Government Pays Big, Because You Deserve It

Tony Katz

12/28/2011 3:53:00 PM - Tony Katz
As reported by USA Today, via The Transom, all types of federal employees - from scientists to custodial staff - have had huge increases in pay over the past five years. As expected, this has made working for the government the "right" decision for recent college graduates:

A 20- to 24-year-old auto mechanic started at an average of $46,427 this year, up from $36,750 five years ago. The government hires about 400 full-time auto mechanics a year....A 30- to 34-year-old lawyer started at an average of $101,045 this year, up from $79,177 five years ago. The government hires about 2,500 lawyers a year. And a mechanical engineer, age 25 to 29, started at $63,675, up from $51,746 in 2006. The government hires about 600 mechanical engineers a year.

On a percentage basis, the average starting wage for a government lawyer is up 27% over five years. A government mechanic? Up 26%. Mechanical engineer? Up 23%. USA Today gives a very interesting rational for the massive increases in government pay; it's how the job is now classified: (emphasis mine)

The government is classifying more new hires — secretaries, mail clerks, chaplains, laundry workers, electrical engineers and wildlife biologists — as taking more demanding versions of their jobs and deserving more pay.

It is illogical and immoral to assume that a laundry worker or a mail clerk has taken a more "demanding version" of a job in the public sector than those in the private sector. It is illogical because if one believes in equal work for equal pay, then an open market should create a prevailing wage for that job. Certainly, there may be outliers, but the mid-line should have consistency. It is immoral to think that because someone works for the government, that their job will be more demanding. It is immoral to say that because of this lie, that the worker deserves more pay. No one deserves more pay; they either earn more, or they create more value...value that someone will pay for.

Situations like this remind me of my father, who for the majority of my years on planet Earth has been asking a very simple question that focuses on the inevitableness of the big government thesis. He asks the following:

A society has 100 people in it. 50 people work at the hospital, and 50 people are patients in the hospital. Who pays the electric bill in the second week?

My father has asked this question at family gatherings, at talks over coffee and cake, at wedding receptions and at all manner of business meetings where the conversation wandered. People of the political "right" are stunned by its simplicity, and understand near immediately his point. People of the political "left" are simply stunned. They stare at my father as if he was missing his nose; a sense of incredulity and sheer hatred. Then they dismiss him, telling him he is ridiculous.

They never have an answer for the question; that if a society is either being paid by government or taking of government services, and no one is creating the wealth that is required to run those services, then that society is doomed (they can't pay the electric bill in the second week!)

What is truly ridiculous is the federal government engaging the conversation that their employees are more deserving than private sector employees. What is ridiculous is the leftist mind-set that government can satisfy the needs of man by giving man all of their needs, and the willful ignorance of those who believe in government supremacy; that through government all is possible, and that government jobs create value.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government employs over 2 million people, and is the largest employer in the US. Though mass retirement was expected before the economic downturn, the majority of government workers are holding on to their jobs, with the quit rate falling 29% since 2007. As reported, "Workers are 13 times more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off from the federal government." The amount of people making over $100,000 per year has advanced from 12% in 2006 to 22% in 2011.

Margaret Thatcher famously quipped that Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money. Said another way, it works until you have to pay the electric bill. Which is, to say, it doesn't.