The debate over how to cut the costs of federal spending continues to roll along at a fever pitch in this year’s presidential debate. The plans for any of the candidates cost money, whether you want to implement ObamaCare or if you want to pay the up-front costs of Paul Ryan’s Social Security and Medicare reforms and move those systems into the 21st century. In light of all this, is it really fair that government employees pull down an average six-figure income? I don’t think so.
According the Cato Institute, the average federal employee makes $119,000 in annual salary & benefits. Even allowing the higher cost of living around the Beltway that’s an obscene figure, given that government work is not harder or more productive than the private sector—the average in this same area being $60,000. And in saying government work is “not harder or more productive” I think I’m being extremely kind.
This is all a direct consequence of the power that comes from the unionization of government employees and why even those of us who are sympathetic to private sector unions have to draw the line when it comes to the public sector. A labor union in private industry has to work with management to ensure the company can continue to exist. A government union need only apply enough pressure for tax dollars to keep themselves afloat.
Thus you end up with the vicious circle of government unions backing left-wing politicians, who in turn repay the union through rising salaries—even if that means taking money from worthy causes, be it active spending or debt reduction.
It’s a sad irony that the political Left today has the protection of $100,000-plus employees as its priority above all priorities, while private sector counterparts are laid off and their jobs shipped overseas. Somewhere, the original labor leaders of the early 20th century are weeping.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com