Government employees cashing in under Obama

It used to be that working for the federal government was considered doing a "service" to the people. Sure, the pay was not up to standards of the private sector, but this was somewhat offset by a more generous benefit package, including a nice, comfy pension package.

I think a lot of bureaucrats today still consider themselves in "service" to the people. But the idea that they have to sacrifice to work for the government may be an anachronistic notion.

Jim Geraghty of NRO's Campaign Spot points us to this USA Today article by Dennis Cauchon on the growth in salaries of federal workers.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months - and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted . . .

Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

All of these increases have taken place in the last 18 months. And that's not the only shocker:

USA TODAY analyzed the Office of Personnel Management's database that tracks salaries of more than 2 million federal workers. Excluded from OPM's data: the White House, Congress, the Postal Service, intelligence agencies and uniformed military personnel.

The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

Geraghty points out that federal government wages are now 76% higher on average than if you work in the private sector.

Why? Pay increases initiated by Bush, are part of the cause. But the driving force appears to be several rules changes by the Democratic Congress:

•New pay system. Congress created a new National Security Pay Scale for the Defense Department to reward merit, in addition to the across-the-board increases. The merit raises, which started in January 2008, were larger than expected and rewarded high-ranking employees. In October, Congress voted to end the new pay scale by 2012.

• Paycaps eased. Many top civil servants are prohibited from making more than an agency's leader. But if Congress lifts the boss' salary, others get raises, too. When the Federal Aviation Administration chief's salary rose, nearly 1,700 employees' had their salaries lifted above $170,000, too.

I am all for paying someone every penny that they're worth no matter if they work in the public or private sector. But this is a process that is clearly out of control. The Founders never intended government service to enrich the worker. And the difference between average salaries in the public and private sector - figures that don't include the gold plated benefits package that federal workers receive - only adds to the impression that enrichment of bureaucrats thanks to taxpayer dollars is a road that can eventually lead to a two-tiered work force with government workers on top.

That's the way it was in Soviet Russia. What's next? Party loyalty tests?


Hat Tip: Ed Lasky