01.31.2010 0

Letting the Public Sector Sleep in Peace

  • On: 02/05/2010 10:25:50
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility
  • By Carter Clews

    Newly seated Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has triggered a firestorm by having the audacity to go on ABC’s “This Week” and suggest: “We need to put a freeze on federal hires and federal raises because, as you know, federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts.”

    Public employee union bosses, of course, exploded in anger. Public employees swooned and reached for the smelling salts (as opposed to their usual fare of bon-bons and Sominex). And Barack Obama reportedly performed a séance in hopes of raising Ted Kennedy from the dead.

    But, the fact is: Scott Brown was right – as far as he went. And he should have gone much further. We don’t simply need to put a freeze on federal hires and raises. We need to fire federal employees. The American people, themselves, are clearly prepared to do their part come November. But, it would be a chipper idea to get a head start now by firing about ten percent of the drones and dregs now feeding from the federal trough.

    Everywhere else in America, workers are reporting to work each morning not knowing whether they will have a job by the end of the day. More than ten percent of American workers – if you believe Barack Obama’s Labor Department – are now unemployed. And if you add those who are working part time because they can’t find full time jobs, as well as those who have simply given up looking, the figure is nearly double that.

    But, there is one place where no one worries about losing his or her job, where the very idea of a pay cut is little more than laughable, and where the next pay raise is as certain as the sun rising in the east and Barack Obama spending money. No, it’s not the Enchanted Kingdom. It is, of course, the federal “work” place.

    Scott Brown stirred the coals by citing public employee compensation figures from a study put out by the prestigious Cato Institute. So, let’s look at what that study reported about the U.S. government’s 1.9 million civilian public employees – and then we can decide for ourselves whether the paper pushers have a leg to sleep on.

    According to the Cato study, the average private sector employee in America today makes $59,909 year. For that, he or she makes a product or performs a service for which the average American consumer feels content to shell out his or her hard-earned money. It’s called fair trade. It’s all part of the free enterprise system that has made America the most prosperous and productive nation in the history or the world.

    And then you have the public sector employee. According to the Cato study, the average federal civilian employee makes $119,982 a year. If you said to yourself, “Why, that’s nearly twice as much as the average private sector employee!” you are absolutely correct (and if you went to public school, your math teacher is probably scratching her head and wondering how you figured that there out).

    For that $119,909, the public employee produces … paper. Well, let’s be fair – not just paper; he or she also produces rules, regulations, red tape, baby showers, birthday parties, Christmas (whoops, sorry Holiday) parties, retirement parties (from what, God only knows), party parties, and a wide variety of other social events that would be a major impediment to work, were any actually being done.

    Interestingly enough, federal civilian employees even make $6,000 a year more than federal military employees. So, if you are giving any thought as to whether to fight for your country, or just sleep it off, you might want to go to usajobs.gov rather than marines.mil. Why risk your life with the few and the proud when your own government will pay you more just to get a good day’s sleep?

    And it gets worse. From 2000 to 2008, the pay for federal civilian employees skyrocketed 57%, while the pay for workers in the private sector grew by only 31%. No wonder the average voluntary quit rate for federal employees is only one-third that of private sector workers. The only question is: What is it they’re quitting – stringing together paper clips?

    Let’s face it, the federal government could save billions of dollars a year in direct compensation simply by cutting the federal employee force by just ten percent. It could save hundreds of billions more by then eliminating the regulatory agencies that employ these paper-pushing bureaucrats. And it could start with the thoroughly useless Department of Agriculture, which provides taxpayer-funded bed and board to 100,000 sleepwalking sloths.

    So, here’s the bottom line: Scott Brown is moving in the right direction. Only he and his fellow free marketeers need to move much further and far faster. Because if they don’t, Barack Obama will soon have every American feeding at the public trough. And the last sight you will see are the once fabled Captains of Industry flicking off the lights as they move real jobs offshore and let the public sector sleep in peace.

    Carter Clews is the Executive Editor of ALG News.

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