Why I'm not attending any pity parties for furloughed federal workers
Call me a hard-hearted, mean-spirited conservative if you will, but I am not bleeding from the heart over the plight of most of the furloughed federal workers. While I am certain that some of them have not bothered to accumulate savings, and thus are running out of money with which to pay important bills, the rest of us in the private sector have had to live with the possibility of our incomes being cut off for our entire careers. Moreover, federal employees, especially in the lower ranges of the income scale, make out like bandits compared to the rest of us with the same skills and responsibilities.
Kristin Tate elaborates in The Hill:
Federal workers receive pay that is 17 percent higher than private sector employees on average performing comparable work. That is on top of putting in 12 percent fewer hours. Furthermore, a Princeton University study found that when "taking differences in employee characteristics into account," federal workers actually earn 34 percent more than comparable private sector workers.
They receive "cadillac" federal employees health benefits, 75 percent of which is subsidized. These plans includes medical plus vision and dental benefits. On top of that, federal retirees are eligible for covered health benefits at 57 years old, a rare luxury in the private sector. They also have generous pension plans and Social Security benefits. Such payments are three times higher than private sector 401(k) and Social Security benefits.
It is also worth noting that federal workers face a 0.2 percent chance of getting fired in a given year. That is more than 45 times lower than their private sector counterparts. In some cases, it takes the effort from four different agencies to fire federal employees, and the process often takes years, even in simple cases. This shield protects public employees who are cited for malfeasance or incompetence. Meanwhile, a Brookings Institution study found that 65 percent of federal employees think job security is more important than helping the public, while only 30 percent think their organization does a good job disciplining poor performers.
Moreover, the entire media narrative that essential employees are "working without pay" is a lie. They are guaranteed to be paid after the shutdown, so they are working for deferred compensation. And those non-essential employees are getting a paid vacation! The need to finance a few weeks (or, depending on Democrats, months) of income every few years, secure in the knowledge that the income will be paid on a delayed basis, is a tradeoff that I would gladly make in return for guarantees of a job paying much higher than in the private sector, and with gold-plated perks.
If I am going to feel sorry for people furloughed, I will save my pity for the coal miners thrown out of work by President Obama's plan to bankrupt coal mines, or for General Motors workers at Lordstown, where the factory will be closed, among many other private-sector workers who are exposed to risks that federal workers can blissfully ignore. Or even more, for workers in the "gig economy" where they get no secure paycheck.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky