President Obama has vilified large corporation CEO’s for accepting what he believes are undeserved salaries and benefits.
In attempting to further control and eliminate the autonomy of American private enterprise, Obama has been an advocate of a bill passed in the House of Representatives in July 2009 that would regulate compensation at institutions whose assets exceed 1 billion.
Apparently this desire to curb excessive compensation does not apply to the government and public sector where salaries and benefits continue to explode despite the recession and mind boggling budget deficits.
According to USA Today, there was an increase of 5% in the number of federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more during the first 18 months of the recession. 19% of federal civil servants now receive a six figure income and that does not include overtime pay or bonuses.
This unwarranted compensation epidemic at the taxpayer’s expense has occurred throughout every department within the federal government. Regardless of size, agencies large and small have all received substantial pay raises and increases in benefits. The average federal worker’s pay now stands at $71,206 compared with $40,331 for the private sector.
State and local governments, constantly demanding new revenue through higher taxes and bond initiatives, have participated in the salary raise party as well. In New York City for example, the average government employee compensation currently stands at $107,000 per year, a 63% increase since 2000. In California, where the state has flirted with default, some prison guards are making $300,000 annually with overtime pay.
Nationwide, total compensation for state and local government workers averaged $39.25 per hour, $11.90 more than private business. The gap has increased .59 cents per hour since 2007. In fact, government benefits rose three times more than the those in the private sector with labor costs now accounting for about half of all state and local spending.
Some politicians are beginning to question this earnings gap and explosion of government salaries in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah recently commented, "There's no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous.”
Sen. Chris Lauzen, an Illinois State Senator, believes government salaries and benefits are punitive to taxpayers who earn substantially less. "People will become angrier and angrier when they learn the difference between their pay and benefits and what we give to public employees."
In light of the 2010 federal budget deficit that will once again exceed 1 trillion dollars, it is unconscionable for the public sector to give itself any raises, let alone those that grossly surpass the private sector that is experiencing wage deflation in many cases.
Yet, why would the rules the government wishes to impose on everyone else apply to themselves? Wouldn’t everyone agree that government employees are some of the most productive workers in our society who deserve these raises while the rest of the country is mired in a recession?
As long as individuals who advocate these policies continue to be elected in every level of government, expect the bureaucrat pay party to carry on while deficits grow, taxes rise and more civil servant millionaires emerge.