Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A USA TODAY analysis finds that, while private sector workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what those private sector workers earn. What the data show:
•Benefits. Federal workers received average benefits worth $41,791 in 2009. Most of this was the government's contribution to pensions. Employees contributed an additional $10,569.
•Pay. The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.
•Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.
Colleen Kelley argues that, "The data are not useful for a direct public-private pay comparison." She's the self-serving president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), and believes that, "the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs".
Such statements would have been impossible in the days when private-sector Unions really united workers, at a time when government unions were not even allowed. But having colluded in the destruction of unionization in the private sector, the NTEU is now completely complicit in the rapidity of transformation, the frenzy for enjoyment, and the blindness to growing government expense that is crushing the productive part of the economy, to rock any boats in Washington. Just like Municipalities that, despite finding themselves face to face with crushing deficits, will not hear of prudence, of economy, of a calm and respectable existence, the Federal Government prefers to keep up their own useless luxury and continue to hide the real penury of new-fangled financial innovations whence can be derived colossal fortunes, coming into being each morning only to be swallowed up at night.
Passing from adventure to adventure, the Capitol now possesses only the gilded facade of dried up capital: promissory notes now just a broken promise and insincere "sorry". In this period of meagerness and madness, not even Enron, Donald Trump, Bear Stearns, or Lehman's risked their future with greater rashness, nor marched straighter towards every folly and every trick of finance than does the Capitol now, yet Colleen Kelley can say with a straight face that "the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs".
The fortunes being made that are the offspring of those federal jobs, in this "free-for-all mark-it-up" economy, seem to be at their zenith. They blaze in the midst of ever-swelling homeless populations like a colossal bonfire. These appetites, let loose by the Bush tax-cuts for the rich, can be satisfied only with the shamelessness of triumph amid the sounds of crumbling cities, as Detroit disintegrates and Facebook's fortunes spring up in six months: real estate crumbles while the ominous thunderCloud of cyberspace rumbles. Overnight Washington has become a sheer orgy of gold and trophy women. Vice, coming from on high, flows through the gutters, spreads out over ornamental waters, shoots up in the fountains of the public gardens to fall down again upon the roofs in a fine, penetrating mist.
And at night, when you commute to your suburb, it seems as though the Potomac drew along with it, through the sleeping city, the refuse of the town: crumbs fallen from the tables, food enough to feed a city sloughed off into dumpsters, bows of lace decorate crotches, false hair forgotten in cabs along with dollars that have slipped out of brassieres and jockstraps. All that brutality of desire and the immediate satisfaction of an instinct flung into the street bruised and sullied. Then, amid the feverish sleep of the apparently unskilled, uneducated workers of the private sector, and even better than during its breathless quest in broad daylight, you can feel the unsettling of the brain, the golden and voluptuous nightmare of a city madly enamored of cash and flesh.
There, the Treasury, embedded in its center, yawns like a Neo-Classical alcove, large enough to accommodate the amorous exploits with trillions of dollars. Here, in this hothouse atmosphere rife with corruption and dank decay is fortune bloomed and insolently displayed. It spends money madly on pure folly; handfuls of bills flung out the window, the Federal Reserve emptied each evening to its last nickel, filling again every night, no one knows how, and never supplying such large sums as when Hank Paulson pretended to have lost the keys.
Only with such a backdrop can the conditions exist for a burgeoning government that for almost two generations has been steered by avatars of small laissez-faire government, claiming that it needs to get out of the way to let the private sector do its work, yet now claim that that supposedly feckless, know-nothing institution that is increasingly sloughing off its most sacred trusts and important responsibilities onto the private sector, is somehow deserving of its dazzling salaries because that same private sector, the one now responsible for carrying out the governments' responsibilities, is not only poorly educated, but is sorely lacking in skills.
If consistency were indeed the hobgoblins of little minds, Colleen Kelley must need a crane to carry her hypertrophied encephalic grey matter.