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November 10, 2010

Fraction of Federal Workers Making $150,000 Rises Tenfold Since 2005
Update: What Could We Do With $40 Billion of "Salary Premium"?

It's merely doubled under Obama, so George Bush bears a lot of blame.

Let's make sure we make government jobs the most attractive jobs around in all ways -- security, benefits, and now salary, too -- to make sure that our best and brightest don't go into careers that increase the nation's wealth, but instead careers that reduce it.

For the Children! In aggregate, we pay federal workers $40 billion per year in "salary premium" -- excess, unnecessary salary (as compared to similarly-situated workers in the private workforce).

So what could that get you?

Instead of paying the salary premium, the federal government could quadruple funding for the space program or quintuple it for higher education. Or it could give almost $1 billion a year in block grants to every state for primary and secondary education. Rather than spending $40 billion on the salary premium, the federal government could more than double federal spending on preserving the environment and our national parks. Maybe the federal government would like to increase funding for general science and basic research by more than five times its current amount. How about diverting these funds toward shoring up Social Security (its current unsecured future obligations have a present value of about $3 trillion) or Medicare?

$40 billion is the approximate size of President Bush's tax cut for this year and some contend that it is responsible for this year's deficit!

Why is the average pay for federal employees so much more relative to these other broad sectors of the federal budget? Many people point to the $3 billion spent in the last election cycle as evidence that our democracy is being bought, and their case has some merit. But in that same period of time about $80 billion was paid out in a salary premium to federal workers.

Is it unfair to ask what is being bought with this money? Is it unfair to point out that 26% of all voters in the 2000 elections came from union households (a number all out of proportion to the 15% of the labor force that is unionized) -- and that one of the only areas of growth in union membership is coming from organizing government workers?

Federal salaries must be frozen until the private sector passes them.

For the children, you understand.

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posted by Ace at 11:42 AM

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