Patterico's Pontifications


Caddell on Government Employees

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 10:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Former Carter pollster and strategist Pat Caddell on asking taxpayers to sacrifice so government employees can keep their salaries, pensions and benefits:

“How are you going to tell a person who makes $40,000 that they must pay money to make sure that people keep jobs who make $80,000, roughly, and who have defined pensions that they will never see?” Caddell said. “You cannot ask ordinary Americans who have no jobs, whose pensions have been ransacked, and whose pay has been stagnant, to keep rewarding people who don’t face the same kind of conditions and risk.”

“The people who pay for it are suffering,” he said. “The taxpayers are going to explode. This is the big coming issue of our time.”

Caddell also has harsh words for the Obama White House, Andy Stern and the SEIU. I don’t think it’s accurate to say Caddell is a representative Democrat — he strays too much from the Party line — but I think he’s right that taxpayers won’t accept a government employee privileged class.


95 Responses to “Caddell on Government Employees”

  1. No layoffs, good salaries, better pensions, early retirement and full medical. What’s not to like — unless of course you’re paying for them.

    We really need to prevent labor from controlling management. Until that is done, there is no hope.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  2. The public sector is a growth industry under Democrats for the U.S., plus it isn’t likely to export that many of its jobs overseas. What’s not to like?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  3. Here’s a little hook many people don’t realize: If you leave the military for a government job, your “years of service” continue to accumulate. So, 8 years military and another 12 years public sector and you got your 20 in. Retire easy.

    And before anyone says anything, anybody who does 20+ in the military has earned the retirement he or she gets out of the military service.

    John Hitchcock (181b3b)

  4. Voters who are government employees, particularly if they’ve long enjoyed and become quite spoiled by cozy tax-supported perks — eg, government holidays from A to Z, gold-plated pension and health benefits, pass-the-buck, self-entitled, tenure-for-life work ethics, etc! — at least have an excuse for entering the voting booth and kissing up to liberal politicians and liberal policies. What’s the excuse of all the other voters who no less mindlessly and idiotically pull the lever for “Democrat” and ballot measures blessed by the usual suspects on the left?

    Mark (411533)

  5. unless you are an M-day reservist, in which case you get nada until you turn 60….. just another way that the Army makes sure you never forget that you’re a second class Soldier in their eyes.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  6. I think a winning issue for Republican candidates in 2010 is calling for a five-year hiring freeze on all non-defense-related public employees. I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but I would guess that if the average tenure of a public employee is 25 years, then roughly 3% of them retire each year (assuming the current numbers skew strongly to newer hires within the last 10 years). A five-year freeze would therefore lead to a 15-20% drop in their numbers from today. At the very least, the GOP can promise a two-year freeze if they recapture Congress.

    JVW (a62639)

  7. Comment by John Hitchcock — 2/17/2010 @ 11:45 pm

    John H., my mother worked as a typist at an army depot for a few summers when she was a teenager. Thirty-plus years later when she was hired for a state job, they credited her towards her pension and retirement for those summers of work.

    JVW (a62639)


    has an article that puts a little balance into the recent “outrage” about federal workers. When I don’t see the same outrage come out about contracted civilians for Lockheed, Raytheon, and similar big companies – whatever the employee makes (60K and higher) is only half the cost to the taxpayer as the company charges roughly double that to the government. But these are civilian jobs – not the evil fed jobs.

    600,000 (26%) of the federal work force are military vets. Many are like me – they put 25+ years of their life into the military and go into an occupation and they have the skills, security clearance, and education to fill the position. It is interesting to see articles that make us out to be union lackeys who serve no purpose and don’t deserve the pay we get. What price do you put on giving up your prime earning years to serve your country? I won’t be seeing 80K for quite sometime although my peers in the commercial world are making six figures as computer security professionals. Stability and job security trump salary for many of the vets.
    By the way my “gold plated” retirement plan for 20 years of federal service might be 15K a year in today’s dollars. Don’t worry though, since I will be 68 when I begin collecting it the odds are you won’t have to pay too many years…

    The one thing I think the feds should do is to reduce the number of Senior Executive Service (SES is a flag officer equivalent position) positions by about 50%. This has a trickle down impact in forcing positions below them to be downgraded to lower grade positions. For example, one SES level has six colonels working for him but one GS15 has six Lt Cols working for her, etc.. Do that and you would see the six figure salaried government employees drop signficantly.

    If someone believes that freezing the pay of 2.2 federal workers is going to solve the financial problems they are unrealistic.
    Now if you start talking about how every citizen makes a sacrifice of some sort to fix the financial mess our politicians have created it might make sense. Say a five year freeze on cost of living increases for all federal/state entitlement programs, even Medicare, social security, and welfare. Eliminate farm subsidies completely and put a 5 year freeze on any new government contracts. Don’t renact the Bush tax cuts for five years and force all the savings be applied to the deficit.
    Don’t like that idea? What do you think the solution is?

    voiceofreason2 (04ec25)

  9. freezing the pay of 2.2 should read 2.2 million
    renact should be re-enact


    voiceofreason2 (04ec25)

  10. He’s also been fired.

    So much for speaking truth to power.

    jakee308 (a7c45e)

  11. Recently, Willie Brown, former San Francisco Mayor and Speaker of the California Assembly, a prominent liberal Democrat, wrote the following:

    If we as a state want to make a New Year’s resolution, I suggest taking a good look at the California we have created. From our out-of-sync tax system to our out-of-control civil service, it’s time for politicians to begin an honest dialogue about what we’ve become.

    Take the civil service.

    The system was set up so politicians like me couldn’t come in and fire the people (relatives) hired by the guy they beat and replace them with their own friends and relatives.

    Over the years, however, the civil service system has changed from one that protects jobs to one that runs the show.

    The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.

    But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers.

    Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders. But at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs.

    Either we do something about it at the ballot box, or a judge will do something about in Bankruptcy Court. And if you think I’m kidding, just look at Vallejo.

    If a politician like Brown can write that, you know that the issue has come to a head!

    Bored Lawyer (380bc0)

  12. When I don’t see the same outrage come out about contracted civilians for Lockheed, Raytheon, and similar big companies – whatever the employee makes (60K and higher) is only half the cost to the taxpayer as the company charges roughly double that to the government. But these are civilian jobs – not the evil fed jobs.

    Minor issue here.

    Don’t the same multiplying factors also apply to public employees? Benefits, pension payments, etc.?

    Again, only a minor quibble.

    Hadlowe (061332)

  13. Being in public service and having been in private, I can tell you that the redundancy in public service is heavy. The public sector could shave off quite a bit of fat and require more of it’s employees, especially in administration. Public sector also views profitability as an anathema, which arguably, leads to flabbiness when it comes to operating a tight ship.

    The biggest problem is that public employment views their pay base as free money and not as their money, taxed and taken. They do not regularly remind themselves where the money comes from and the price of higher taxation. They are not careful with MY money.

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  14. If politicians take up this argument they will be unstoppable, as long as their argument is for reasonable civil service compensation & employment, not no civil service compensation & employment.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  15. FWIW, I’m a prior service Gov employee, and I’m making a whopping $49,000, not $80K. I got a $1 an hour raise last year. But taxes went up, and so did the deduction for my health care (yes, I pay part of the bill) went up, and because good ol’ BO dropped the GS pay increase from 2.5 to 1.5%, we aren’t even keeping up with inflation. After my raise, I’m making less this year than last. Because I work with/for the military, my hours are from 0730 to 1730 most days.

    So yeah, it’s a good job, but it’s still a job, and I work my can off like everybody else.

    Contrary to the talking points, we aren’t all fat cats sucking at the goverment teat. I have a three year contract. If I don’t re-up here, I have to look for a job just like everyone else.

    It’s not all roses and silver spoons, folks.

    Steve B (5eacf6)

  16. ““How are you going to tell a person who makes $40,000 that they must pay money to make sure that people keep jobs who make $80,000, roughly, and who have defined pensions that they will never see?” Caddell said. “You cannot ask ordinary Americans who have no jobs, whose pensions have been ransacked, and whose pay has been stagnant, to keep rewarding people who don’t face the same kind of conditions and risk.””

    Oh I thought this was a bout wall street. But then, who on wall street gets 80K?

    imdw (f1cc51)

  17. It is time to Restructure and Reorganize Civil Service Employees at all levels. Federal, State Gov.t. They need to do less overall but more individually.

    If I ran for Congress, I would propose an immediate pay freeze, immediate hiring ban, immediate reduction in headcount at all pay levels by 5%, and increase retirement age by 5 years.

    I would also pass a resolution/law making it illegal to provide Gov.t workers Benefits’ Level in excess of 5% of Private Sector Benchmarks this includes Health, Retirement, Disability, etc.

    The deficits would evaporate.

    HeavenSent (c3c032)

  18. Cadell is the only Democrat I have heard in 15 years who makes any sense to me even if we disagree on many entitlement and FP issues.

    HeavenSent (c3c032)

  19. Don’t the same multiplying factors also apply to public employees? Benefits, pension payments, etc.?

    Again, only a minor quibble.

    Comment by Hadlowe — 2/18/2010 @ 5:01 am

    Part of the reason for the contractors is to cut back on overhead on benefits and pensions because a contract can be renogitiated or discontinued. My point was that each contractor position costs the taxpayer six figures but these are counted as commercial jobs. The number of federal employees with six figure incomes is 3% of the total number of employees. I don’t know for sure but would imagine that in large corporations (not gov contractors) the number of six figure employees may track similarly.
    Eisenhower warned us about letting the defense contractors drive the train in terms of requirements and in overcharging. Unfortunately the congress and senate didn’t heed his advice. We buy big ticket items the military leadership goes on record saying they don’t need but jobs for a congressional district or state trump the advice they offer.

    vor2 (8e6b90)

  20. Having waited in line at more than one Government agency, it’s hard to believe these people receive a paycheck, let alone benefits.

    And of course, if I don’t like it, I can just take my business elsewhere… oops.

    Patrick in Des Moines (3913e7)

  21. Caddell pretty much represents where Jimmy Carter was when Pat was Jimmy’s pollster and helped him get elected in 1976. The fact that Caddell sounds far more like a Republican now than a Democrat shows that, like Ronald Reagan in the 1950s, he didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party (and his ex-boss) left him.

    John (d4490d)

  22. The Dems can keep casting out prominent Casssandras like Caddell, or face the ultimate oblivion later this year. So far, they seem determined to follow the lemmings right off the electoral cliff – fine by me, but I still am amazed that despite all of the ex – Clintonistas on Obama’s team, they have yet to suggest a honest to God triangulation moment for their boss. Which may suggest he really is a pig – headed idealogue or an ignorant and clueless narcissist.

    Dmac (799abd)

  23. From my own experience in state government for many years, some of the workers do a sterling job for little pay and the top-heavy layers of management feather their own nests as much as possible. Rules are for some people. The fact is many workers feel entitled and do next to nothing, making more work for those around them with a conscience and work ethic.
    Things really went to hell in a handbasket when the feds forced all sorts of rules on managing the welfare system. I know I really never made anywhere near what many of you do in private employment and I suppose that has changed in recent decades, but no COLA for me since 2002, when prices have risen by at least 26%. Incidentally isn’t it funny how the DOW is around 10,000 now and was the same back in ’99? No accounting in the rise for inflation since then.
    When I did pay for my own Blue Cross before we had all these HMOs, the costs were much lower. Ditto for before the feds got so involved in educations. My first two years at a comm. college cost $15 a credit hour. Of course the private college and Villanova Law were much higher, but still far lower than today.
    So what happens when we get inflation far worse than even the Carter years? Social Security recipients are getting no colas because there is “no” inflation? BS, my withholding has just gone up under Obama (annuities are income-taxed), the HOA has bumped up as have property taxes here in Palm Beach county. And who hasn’t noticed increased costs for fuel and food? I feel bad for people who have to stay warm in winter, even if global warming, cap and trade are the coming increased taxes mantra.
    How many of you have had your IRAs and Roth plans decimated? Oh sure, housing is a great investment. Prices in my own modest townhome development have cratered from high of $285k in 2006 to as low as around $90k…forcing some who are way underwater as far as equity to go into foreclosure. Yes, people should not have taken out loans giving them in excess of 100% of the home cost or home equity loans to buy the latest European luxury aircraft carriers.
    I don’t know which level of government is the worse as far as abuse of the taxpayers. I have seen some of the big shots here in local government quit and get huge pension payouts in 6 and 7 figures and then promptly be rehired by t5he same entity. Sure, teachers in Fla. don’t make so much compared to their brethren up north, but the assclowns in administration seem to do quite ok and one wonders just what the heck many of them actually do to earn their salaries.

    aoibhneas (02d046)

  24. Point taken. Thanks for the response.

    Hadlowe (061332)

  25. It is a mistake to compare military pay and “retirement” with anything in the civilian sector~public or private.

    A military service member doesn’t “retire” at twenty years of service, they are eligible to be transferred to a reserve list where they are paid about half of what they made on active duty as a retainer. They are subject to being called back up to active duty. A member who completes thirty years can retire, at about 75% of their active duty pay and generally not be called back up. (Although it has happened in a few exceptional cases.)

    The point isn’t to make military service financially attractive, the point is to ensure a relatively youthful force of physically fit individuals capable of meeting the physical demands of warfare by encouraging or actually forcing members out of service at a relatively early age.

    “Constructive time,” the practice of crediting a military veteran’s service time for the purpose of determining pay grade or benefits in a public sector job varies in its application, and is practiced not only by the federal government, but by a number of state and local programs who are attempting to recruit military veterans who have developed skills directly applicable to the position they are attempting to fill. (Federal constructive time isn’t necessarily job related, the theory there is that the member is working for the same employer: the federal government.)

    Federal workers in the civilian sector are not eligible to “retire at twenty,” they pretty much follow the same rules as everyone else regarding retirement age~the “constructive time” added to a military veteran’s pay calculation for salary and benefits, including retirement pay when they become eligible at 65, or 62, or 68 or whatever is a recognition of the question that voiceofreason2 asks above, “What price do you put on giving up your prime earning years to serve your country?”

    And defense contractors don’t just “double” the cost of an employee’s salary~those charges reflect the actual cost of the total package as mandated by the government to ensure that all the details of the contract are “open” to being inspected. The idea is to prevent cheating…by the contractor cheating the government or their employees, by the employee cheating the government or their employer, or, for that matter, the government cheating either of them as well. And that “open” cost is generally less than what it would cost the government to develop the same capability internally, which is why its contracted out in the first place.

    All of that aside, there are a lot of government employees at all levels doing jobs that don’t need to be done, that the government has no Constitutional basis for engaging in, and so on that waste vast amounts of money that belong to someone else.

    And we are getting tired of it.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  26. Folks ginning up anger about average salaries are trying to play class warfare games with folks unable to see they are being shown apples and oranges. The private sector numbers include tens of millions of folks making minimum wage. Feds eat and McDonalds but burger flippers are not included in their average salary. A much higher percentage of government workers have at least a bachelors degree. The folks getting upset are used to seeing the moron at the BMV take an hour to give a 2 minute drivers license eye exam. Those are state employees. Federal employees include scientists, FBI agents, and hundreds of other high skill jobs that often include long hours and potential risk. It is stupid to compare them to a group including minimum wage workers. Government workers do have greater job security. That is off-set partially by giving up some freedom (particularly military) and the opportunity loss. If you’re a top notch “X” in civilian world you can work real hard and get to the top making millions. A government worker can work as hard as the other guy but there will always be a cap on potential earnings.

    Having said all that, there is no doubt the government is far too bloated and it is involved in lots of stuff it has no business doing. Every aspect of the government should be examined and if it is not something the federal government is responsible to do it should be phased out. There goes you federal deficit.

    Largebill (1d1579)

  27. I would suggest you all read VDH’s essay today on Greece as the canary in the coal mine. California is going the way of Greece. We have become an expensive theme park. The unemployment rate in the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world, is about 40% because a federal judge has shut off the irrigation water to protect the Delta smelt, a two inch fish. As a result, billions of dollars of farm production is stopped.

    I had two friends from England visiting two years ago. They have been all over the world but not to California. I took them through the Central Valley to show them that California wasn’t just Hollywood and Silicone Valley. I couldn’t do that this year because it is a dust bowl, created by a federal judge and environmentalists.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  28. Well, large bill, I agree with you on one thing. There are no federal workers on minimum wage.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  29. DRJ – Thanks for highlighting the issue. I’m a public employee attorney (as are both you and Patterico, I think) and I’m curious if you are as conflicted as me. Very concerned about the continually growing wages and pensions for government employees while also being one.

    rfy (0f1c61)

  30. I don’t think it really matters whether Public sector or Private sector jobs pay more or less. The point is, in the private sector, when expenses get too far ahead of revenue, the business fails. In the public sector, taxes are raised, more money is printed, deficits increase.

    There are no checks in place (like the free market) to reign in government spending. Nor any incentives to keep costs down. In fact, the very opposite is true.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  31. A quick test would be Caltrans. The department is off work two Fridays each month. Nobody notices.

    Now the City of L.A. is shuffling employees to Airport, DWP and Port of L.A. to hide them out. It is one big coffee break for these departments.

    TimesDisliker (39096c)

  32. Patrick of Des Moines,

    The problem in Iowa is Pat Murphy and the Des Moines Register pusing the Democrat Union Cult agenda over the interests of the public for decades.

    As for Speaker for Life, Willie Brown, he helped create and feed the mess from his yearly new Cadillac limosines paid for by the CA Taxpayers.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  33. Rfy – DRJ is not a publicly employed attorney.

    JD (10904f)

  34. The special commission to reign in the deficit, headed by two former public employees, is now a go.

    I’m sure Caddell is the first guy they will call.

    Matador (176445)

  35. Attacking government employees like this is playing the same game as the Democrats, stirring up economic and class resentment feelings. How can we complain about the Democrats demonizing bankers and capitalists, if we demonize the federal workers or whomever?

    Plus, as voiceofreason2 and others have noted, it alienates plenty of people who work in government and are themselves conservative, or at least moderate. The issue isn’t that government employees make too much (some do, some don’t just like in the private sector), it’s that there are too many of them… because government has intruded into our daily lives too much.

    If we want to really turn things around, we need to stay focused tightly on the core problem… there’s too much government in too many places. Don’t try to scapegoat the government employees, many of whom are decent, hard-working folks. They are constrained by all sorts of rules which the general public doesn’t always understand. It is generally these rules which make government so inefficient (and don’t we want government to be generally inefficient, in some ways), not the employees themselves.

    PatHMV (c0c73a)

  36. Inconveniently, of course, it is these same government employees (fine people, I’m sure) who are the ones to knock on our door and demand an inspection (OSHA). Or make the little handicapped boy take off his potentially explosive leg braces and then walk, unsupported, through the magnetometer (TSA). Or threaten us with fines and imprisonment if we fail to figure out the proper way to file our taxes, acknowleging that following the advice given by the IRS itself is no guarantee that you are in compliance.

    Yeah, I get it that some gov’t. employees are great folks. But as they multiply like rabbits and “eat out our substance” they aren’t going to get any more popular.

    Gesundheit (cfa313)

  37. Sadly, if the governments cannot see the problem and fix it (lower costs) then there aren’t any good options left. Go broke? Keep feeding it until it collapses?

    We can harp all we want about getting the right people in there to do the right job, but we’re quickly running out of time. I think the attitude at the higher levels is to get out of it what you can now, because the bus is heading for the cliffs and the brakes don’t work (and the driver has both feet on the accelerator).

    Corwin (ea9428)

  38. I’ve been a public sector attorney and in private practice, and the two just don’t compare. At my former public employer, they scheduled meetings on everything, and if you added up the salaries of everyone attending the meetings, you had meetings that cost thousands of dollars an hour. The pinnacle of inefficiency came when they scheduled a meeting to talk about meetings.

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  39. “I had two friends from England visiting two years ago. They have been all over the world but not to California. I took them through the Central Valley to show them that California wasn’t just Hollywood and Silicone Valley. I couldn’t do that this year because it is a dust bowl, created by a federal judge and environmentalists.”

    Imagine what that place would look like without government intervention messing with the irrigation.

    imdw (c80ec1)

  40. We do not have to imagine.

    JD (0f9c01)

  41. Imagine if those farmers hadn’t paid their taxes for 100 years, troll.

    My son is a state firefighter so I sympathize to some degree but he makes less, a lot less, than the city and county firefighters. His income depends on overtime. I wonder if his pension will still exist when he needs it. That’s 20 years in the future but I expect default before then.

    My small city of 100,000 has 150 city employees and, I am told, 100 of them have incomes over $100,000 per year. A small clique of city politicians built a city hall that cost $25 million and a city library that cost about $20 million. They have given subsidies to a shopping mall and a failing three story shopping structure plus two car dealerships.

    I think the city is teetering but the local pols are oblivious. We had one city council member who used to go through the city check register finding strange little sweetheart deals. She was hated and finally got sick of the abuse and did not run for re-election after two terms. The voters just recalled the mayor and the deputy sheriff’s union gave him $105,000 to fight the recall. I wonder why ? It was the most expensive election in city history.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  42. I should add that the local school district superintendent has been indicted for corruption, along with his assistant. That was 2007 and I don’t see if they have gone to trial yet.

    Great little spot we’ve down here behind the Orange Curtain.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  43. Mike K…when you factor in the hours spent, I kind of think the lower “E” grades in the service are at, or below, min-wage; but as to civilian “GS” workers, absolutely right.

    PCD…Don’t know about that Cadillac for Willie.
    Last I heard, his State-paid lease car was a Jag XJ-S, though I’m sure he also rated a large sedan as Speaker, and those were usually Lincoln Town-Cars.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2215b9)

  44. John Hitchcock, if I may. I am one of those government employees only at the county level. I have nearly 4 years of USAF service, but it will not automatically be added to my county time…I have to purchase it at the price of about 5000.00 per year. Some places may add it gratis, but not where I work.

    Just a minor correction.

    Andy (b63f79)

  45. _________________________________

    Oh I thought this was a bout wall street. But then, who on wall street gets 80K? Comment by imdw

    A good segue to an illustration of how the current occupant of the White House truly is the worst of both worlds:, Bill Kristol, 2-10-10:

    [Liberal NY Times columnist] Paul Krugman is, I think, right to be amazed by Obama’s embrace of the $17 million bonus given to JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon and the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

    If Obama’s idea of moving to the middle politically is to embrace Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks, he’s crazy. Usually Republicans are the party of Big Business and Democrats of Big Government, and the public’s hostility to both more or less evens the politics out. But if Obama now becomes the spokesman for Big Government intrusiveness and the apologist for Big Business irresponsibility all at once–good luck with that.

    And look at the tone-deafness of Obama’s comments about the bonuses:

    “President Barack Obama said he doesn’t ‘begrudge’ the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay. The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that while $17 million is ‘an extraordinary amount of money’ for Main Street, ‘there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I’m shocked by that as well.’

    ‘I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,’ Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday….

    First of all, as Krugman points out, “irresponsible behavior by baseball players hasn’t brought the world economy to the brink of collapse.” Nor has the federal government spent billions (trillions?) bailing out baseball owners after they signed foolish contracts. Nor does it guarantee baseball owners’–or players’–future solvency.

    And second, doesn’t Obama realize how creepy this statement is? “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen.”

    This confirms the suspicion that we now live in a world of crony capitalism, where if Obama knows and thinks well of you, then you don’t get criticized–but if you’re some guy who hasn’t spent a lot of time cozying up to government leaders, then you could easily be the object of demagogic assault by politicians.

    Mark (411533)

  46. Comment by Mark — 2/18/2010 @ 10:10 am

    Only the trolls will be surprised by the contents of this post.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2215b9)

  47. Surely Jamie Dimon is a huge RethugliKKKan.

    JD (61528e)

  48. 43, AD, go back to the 94-96 time period. Willie was giving rides to Doris Allen in A NEW CADILLAC WITH CA STATE PLATES as part of his campaign to subvert the new GOP majority in the Assembly. Willie’s current aide, who’s name escapes me, had to be recalled because he voted for Brown rather than Curt Pringel as Speaker, then Brown bought off Doris Allen who was speaker with her vote and all the Democrats’ votes. She made Brown Speaker Emeratus with all the real power in the assembly.

    I remember working on that recall to get that drunk, Allen, out of office. She was the only sitting Speaker to ever be recalled.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  49. 47, JD, I renounce and denounce you for using that Liberal Cultist epitath.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  50. “My small city of 100,000 has 150 city employees and, I am told, 100 of them have incomes over $100,000 per year. A small clique of city politicians built a city hall that cost $25 million and a city library that cost about $20 million. They have given subsidies to a shopping mall and a failing three story shopping structure plus two car dealerships.”

    Not every city is lucky enough to live under the fiscal stewardship of sarah palin.

    imdw (c8163e)

  51. #50 What city would that be…?

    pam (47a9e3)

  52. #50, even for you, wouldn’t your time be better spent eating ice cream? Do you ever find yourself wondering how little value you contribute?

    Corwin (ea9428)

  53. 50, No, and looks like the city you cited is run by Liberal Cultists like yourself, imd-dumbass.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  54. 50, even for you, wouldn’t your time be better spent eating ice cream?

    It would better served by ingesting the ice cream up it’s backside. Might clear out all of the nasty obstructions, you know.

    Dmac (799abd)

  55. Dmac – A Ben & Jerry’s colonic, of sorts?

    JD (3399c0)

  56. Re: #50

    — *rimshot* “Thank you, thank you, folks! I’ll be here all week. And please remember to tip your waitress here at The Non Sequitur Ad Hominem Attack Room.”

    Icy Texan (e323e4)

  57. Dmac – A Ben & Jerry’s colonic, of sorts?

    Yep – I think the flavor called “Chunky Monkey” might do the trick. Either that, or 4 pounds of castor oil.

    Dmac (799abd)

  58. Let me see if I can put this in perspective: After 24 years, 3 months, 11 days in uniform, a BA and an MS degree, commercial pilot’s license, certification by Defense Acquisition University as a level-III program manager, I became a Government Service Employee. I now manage a program (that I helped develop) for the DoD that saves over $30m a year in actual costs.

    I work with some of the most talented and dedicated professionals I have ever met, all dedicated to turning out the best pilot we can. All Government Service or (gasp!) contractors.

    Because my small staff of 3 (with similar background, specialized education and training) and I work for the government, we are fat, wasteful pigs sucking at the government teat?

    Tell me when you no longer want well-trained soldiers. We’ll all just go home and live on our fat retirement paychecks, supported by our gold-plated health plans.

    Tired of the shotgun-blast populist bull$h!t.

    Virtual Insanity (d9db9c)

  59. Not every city is lucky enough to live under the fiscal stewardship of sarah palin.

    Comment by imdw

    Is that supposed to mean something or did you have a seizure while sitting at your mother’s keyboard ?

    Mike K (2cf494)

  60. It has no expertise to offer of its own, so it can only mock.

    Bradley J. Fikes (e67df3)

  61. This seems less of a class-warfare kind of thing and more of a normal Americans are losing jobs left and right in Barcky’s horrible economy, while government work expands with ever-increasing guaranteed benefits.

    JD (2228b9)

  62. JD–

    “ever-increasing guaranteed benefits?”

    I was moved under a pay-for-performance plan, and rewarded reasonably well for demonstrable performance. Now, that system will be dismantled. I will get 1/2 the raises others who did not perform as well while under that program will get, until “parity” is re-established.

    The opportunity to incentivize government employees to perform well was just killed by Obama, and it’s remedy turned into a disincentive.

    I also carried my health care coverage over from active duty. And I pay for it now, along with dental care. I invest heavily in a Thrift Savings Plan, because I don’t think my Federal Employee Retirement System payouts will be enough.

    The only benefit? It’s difficult (not at all impossible) to fire me. Based on what you see of my resume in 58 above, do you think I could do better in the private sector?

    I do. But I choose to do this instead.

    Virtual Insanity (d93c26)

  63. And you are to be commended, VI. You are a tiny fraction of the 2,000,000+ referenced.

    JD (3399c0)

  64. Virtual Insanity: Tired of the shotgun-blast populist bull$h!t.

    As Willie Brown acknowledged, “the deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.” Now, even in a time of huge economic upheaval and private sector distress, the number of highly paid public sector employees is exploding:

    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.

    Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

    The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. 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.

    The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech. The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules.

    “There’s no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous,” says Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a first-term lawmaker who is on the House’s federal workforce subcommittee.

    Maybe you aren’t one of those people. Maybe you’re one of the highly trained, valuable and underpaid employees — and we thank you for your hard work and for your military service. But that doesn’t change the fact that, for now, public sector employees do not share the economic uncertainty that many American taxpayers face.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  65. DRJ, it’s still a populism-based attack that tries to capitalize on negative emotions like envy and anger focused at the symptom of the problem (government workers) rather than the actual problem, which is government which is just too big and does too much.

    Complain about the SEIU’s political activities, if you want, as they are aimed at further increasing the size of government and maintaining job security for its members. But a huge number of the actual government employees are basically decent folks, trying to do a good job in often difficult political circumstances.

    As a practical matter, the populist approach results in counter-productive, simplistic “reforms” like across-the-board freezes which usually mean the deadweight sticks around, while positions that really need to get filled don’t get filled. It cuts down on upper level administrators who, were they high quality employees and adequately empowered, would be able to actually save much more money than they are paid, by implementing efficiency measures and such.

    Once the populist button is pushed, all the stirred-up folks here is “that government employee makes more than me? Damn him to hell!”

    PatHMV (003aa1)

  66. Saw Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson on Fox News, and their take on balancing the budget seems to concentrate on more taxes and cutbacks at SS and Medicare…
    Same old, same old!

    It seems that the Govt Establishment needs to elect a new people.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2215b9)

  67. Comment by PCD — 2/18/2010 @ 10:38 am

    Just remembered:
    When the lease ran out on that Jag, Willie upgraded to a Ferrari Testarosa.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2215b9)

  68. PatHMV,

    I don’t view Americans as overly emotional and incapable of logic. If that makes me a populist, I’ll wear the label with pride.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  69. DRJ,
    Part of the reason that is not in the stories about the raises is due to the NSPS (pay for performance system). Good idea in principle but as it has turned out the top earners were getting 10% increases in pay during the few years it has been in effect. So when you take someone who is asst director or above (GS14 & higher) who game the payouts for bonuses that is why you see the increases everyone likes to point out. That is why the number of 100K salaries have gone way up (If you were making 91K as a GS14 you made the list if you got a 10% performance bonus).
    Obama has mandated that the NSPS be scrapped and we go back to the old union friendly style where step increases (1 or 2% raise) occur at the one year point the first 3 years, every two years after that for six years and then every three years for the last 3 steps in the 10 step pay band. After that there are no more raises other than COLA unless you apply and get accepted for a different job in a different pay grade.
    Down in regular person land a 3 -5% bonus (half cash and half salary increase) were the norm for performers rated outstanding, average got 3 percent or less and poor ratings received nothing.

    As for facing uncertainty if there is a ham handed chop of the federal workforce there will certainly be a lot of uncertainty with many federal workers but I’m not sure what exactly that accomplishes. I Just went through a reorg where Lackland picked up Cyber Command and I had to make a choice to follow the job and lose my wife’s salary or apply for different jobs. In my case I got lucky and was hired here at Barksdale and didn’t have to move. Some colleagues were not so lucky. But at least they had the option to follow it where a mass firing won’t offer that opportunity.

    What you don’t read about is how Obama plans to expand the numbers of government to another 600,000 people to replace many of the DoD contractors. Translation is a lot of people currently contracted with the DoD making very nice money will have to choose to take an enormous pay cut to follow the job to a mid-level (GS11 or 12) spot or find another job somewhere else.

    To rein things in smartly would require a plan along the following lines:
    (1) cut the number of SES by 50% and redesignate the grade requirements for levels of responsibility one step lower. This causes a trickle down effect where federal workers may see promotion opportunities reduced rather drastically but they are not being fired and put on the dole
    (2) Do away with DHS, TSA, and Dept of Education. The workers can fill openings in other agencies as people retire out. You would need five years to phase them out with attrition to have minimal impact on the workers

    I’d have to say I’m with virtual insanity about the populist outrage. One story on USA Today and the torches get lit by the mob as they storm the castle. But they never stop to examine the root cause, let alone a realistic solution.
    Hell, fire all the feds while you are at it but then you have to face the impact on local communities who no longer have people living and working there, buying services and products from small business owners, etc.

    voiceofreason2 (0eacb8)

  70. Now, even in a time of huge economic upheaval and private sector distress, the number of highly paid public sector employees is exploding:

    That doesn’t even deal with the Platinum-cushy retirement plans that various government employees on the local, state and federal level receive or will be receiving. Plans that allow an employee to retire rather early in life and receive a monthly check for an amount almost as much as what he or she was generating when still an active worker. Overly generous pension plans and the funds needed to support them — from the wallets of the taxpayers — are a huge ticking time bomb.

    Mark (411533)

  71. vor2,

    Your argument is that we shouldn’t subject the public sector to the “ham-handed chop” and financial uncertainty that the private sector faces daily and has in fact experienced in over the past 2 years. It would be nice if everyone could “rein in things smartly” when there is financial hardship, but I submit it can’t be done with something as big as the American government or the market as a whole.

    To an extent, I’m still willing to experiment but haven’t we done that for years if not decades? The end result is a society that keeps adding benefits and debts but puts off the financial day of reckoning. I believe the only way to fix things at this point is through admittedly harsh solutions like term limits and across-the-board cuts to entitlements and government payrolls.

    There’s going to be pain. It’s time the public sector shared the pain so everyone has an incentive to fix the problems we face instead of kicking them down the road.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  72. DRJ,
    I’ve said before that to fix the problems with the debt, etc. it is going to require everyone to make sacrifices. If you are going to freeze the federal sector and nothing else the problem is not solved. And I think the figures are badly misleading; you are taking the national average for salary and comparing it to the average pay for civil service workers – most with degrees, security clearances and unique skills not found in the private sector.
    My questions to people at large would be:
    Are you willing to wait an extra two years before Social Security eligibility?
    Are you willing to see cuts in Medicare and/or have them indexed based on income?
    Are you willing to freeze unemployment benefits?
    Are you willing to see your taxes not lowered if along with the entitlement spending cuts and freezes the taxes go toward deficit reduction?
    Are you willing to defund the federal highway system and let it go to a toll based concept controlled by each state.

    Until someone successfully convinces the majority of citizens that a shared sacrifice to fix our financial issues nothing will happen. Freeze the government workers, cut their pay and when it doesn’t solve the problem the next suggestion is that since the average salary is 40K no one should make more or less and will be taxed accordingly. Somehow I don’t think you would call that populism.

    I described how the federal issue could be addressed. But what you haven’t made clear is what kind of pain you wish to inflict on the federal workforce and what exactly it will solve.

    voiceofreason2 (0eacb8)

  73. We need to reduce the federal workforce across-the-board, freeze salaries and benefits, and make blanket cuts to all entitlements and departments until we can balance the budget. The alternative is to raise taxes so those reductions, freezes, and cuts won’t be necessary or won’t be as drastic — but we’re already taxed at high rates and more taxes won’t create the jobs that will save our economy from getting worse.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  74. The problem with your solution is that it will never happen. It can make all the sense in the world but if it was possible to implement, it would have already been done. My point is that everyone needs to feel the pain equally, or as equal as we can make it so we can prevent more Cornhusker Kickbacks and Louisiana Purchases from tainting the solution.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  75. “It’s time the public sector shared the pain so everyone has an incentive to fix the problems we face….”

    –I like term limits.

    –I like cuts of unearned entitlements.

    –I think we can, and should (and have been up ’til lately) outsource much of what is done by the government. That requires additional contract oversight folks. They have to be government. Obama’s INsourcing now…those are the 600,000 jobs VOR2 is talking about.

    Where I work, the military folks rotate on a 2-year basis. You just get them to a level of understanding the systems and processes, and through all their training, and they’re gone. The stability and knowledge comes from the GS employees: They are flight instructors, training developers, air traffic controllers, contract managers, etc.

    Who do we fire first?

    This is where it gets tough. The problem, I think, is less the government employees than their political masters. No government agency is made up; they grow out of the legislative process. GS employees can’t fix the economic problems we face. Even a Senior Executive Service (SES) couldn’t…that takes congress and the White House. Yet, I see the torches and gardening implements coming up the street now.

    Admittedly, my view is from inside DoD, as is VOR2’s from what he says.

    Virtual Insanity (d93c26)

  76. DRJ,
    Do you think that alone will balance the budget?
    If not, what sacrifices are you willing to make?

    voiceofreason2 (0eacb8)

  77. VOR2,

    We cut until we balance the budget.

    What sacrifices will I make? You mean beyond starting my own business and working at it everyday, with minimal holidays and no vacations for over 20 years? Or having to make my own way in the world without any income guarantees, public assistance, and disability aid to my disabled child? Or knowing that the federal retirement fund I’ve paid into my entire adult life will likely disappear before I reach retirement age, so I will either have to continue working until I die or until I earn enough funds for my retirement and for the lifetime care of my disabled child?

    DRJ (6a8003)

  78. With apologies to The Bard:

    Hath not a Government Employee eyes? Hath he not hands, organs,
    dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
    the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
    to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
    warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
    as a private sector employee is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
    If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
    do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
    If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.

    Virtual Insanity (d93c26)

  79. DRJ,

    Cutting the entire federal work force won’t balance the budget. It will make airways unsafe, allow infrastructure to crumble, and other things that make the country safe.

    voiceofreason2 (0eacb8)

  80. Comment by Virtual Insanity — 2/18/2010 @ 9:20 pm


    voiceofreason2 (0eacb8)

  81. VOR2,

    I think we’ve come to an impasse because we have differing views of the fiscal problems America faces. I concede I have no special insight that lets me see into the future but I believe our problems are serious enough that government and entitlements must be significantly downsized. I also think maintaining the status quo to avoid compromising existing government services is similar to trying to save the Titanic by reorganizing the deck chairs.

    But I hope you’re right because, in all likelihood, the next couple of years will involve massive reorganizing of deck chairs.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  82. don’t worry DRJ, the rising water will do that for us….

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  83. Comment by DRJ — 2/18/2010 @ 11:57 pm

    Where we agree is that government spending and entitlements are the problem and that the number of feds has grown to an unmanageable level.
    Where we seem to disagree is that you don’t agree that all entitlements need to be changed, to include social security and medicare and that just by addressing the federal pay we can solve the existing mess. We also disagree about cutting taxes at this point – to me it would be foolish to cut them if there is no comprehensive plan to stop federal growth and to start entitlement reform put in place.

    We could get in a never ending debate about who feels they have sacrificed the most which is kind of pointless. You are proud of what you have accomplished as am I about the path I chose. There are many federal workers making much less than you who have special needs children and the same concerns about their future.
    And I think you realize that to change social security and medicare so they stay solvent or to keep taxes at current levels for a few years would impact me just as much as it would you.

    Whether you think it is fair or not the economic problems facing the country are going to require a little sacrifice from everyone if we are to get through the mess we are in.

    voiceofreason2 (0eacb8)

  84. I’m sacrificing by refusing to buy into veeoharetwo’s line of bee-ess.

    Not falling for the “so sorry that we overspent YOUR money; please send us more — we promise to fix things with it if you do,” sales pitch.

    Icy Texan (016cc7)

  85. All Fed. spending should be cut by 25% – across the board, no exceptions. Let the chips fall where they may.

    Might this mean lower safety standards, weaker defense, and lower unemployment benefits? Yep. Deal with it. If the drastic cuts fix much of the deficit in 5 or 10 years, then we can start to refund as needed. If it takes longer, tough.

    We keep talking about using a scalpel to the budget, and pardon the pun, but that ain’t going to cut it.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  86. Icy,

    That’s the crux of what VOR2 and I are saying.

    We’re government employees. We don’t determine how much money is spent on what; we receive the requirements from the politicians and execute them the best we can. We’re the front line trying to make sure the taxpayers get what they’re paying for. We’re taxpayers, too. In DoD, especially, the vast majority of us are former military and generally conservative.

    We’ve even taken an oath similar to the one I took as a soldier, “…to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies….”

    Not saying there can’t be cuts. There absolutely can. But we’re not the enemy.

    We’re Eye-gor, not Dr. Fronkensteen.

    Virtual Insanity (d93c26)

  87. Corwin,

    Wouldn’t it be better to not spend as much (oh, say, stimulus funds) up front, first? Let’s stop that spending and put it back in the “bank.”

    After that, we can focus our energies on cutting government programs and entities that don’t work, don’t accomplish their mission. Education, Energy, where else?

    Virtual Insanity (d93c26)

  88. If you are conservative and in a taxpayer funded position, you need to walk the walk.

    Case in point: Teachers in the conservative area of Williamsport, PA, get that their not-so-affluent taxpayers can’t keep up with the rest of PA, have been working under capped salary for several years, while their healthcare contribution has increased steadily. The are not happy about it, of course, but realize they have good and secure jobs with well-above the median HH income, and at least the probability of a secure retirement.

    These public servants are affiliated with one of the most powerful state education associations in the nation, and could play hardball, but they aren’t about spitting in the public’s face. They know that the money is just not there, and that they can either accept what their employer can afford to pay, or find another way to make a living. They don’t feel they are entitled, and truly appreciate that public service is a choice that has its limitations.

    Contrast this to the Saucon Valley School District in southeastern (liberal) PA where, in the middle of the recent economic crisis, they went on strike because they were insulted with an offer of 3.75% average annual raise and an increase in their family healthcare premium to around $50 a month.

    As long as the former is the exception and the latter the rule, it will be hard for the good guys in the public ranks.

    Matador (176445)

  89. If you are conservative and in a taxpayer funded position, you need to walk the walk.

    Does your definition apply to SS and Medicare recipients?

    vor2 (c9795e)

  90. #87, I’m all for that too. And that would be a good start. But we will need much more. Everyone has benefitted one way or another by Fed spending – whether directly or indirectly. So we all can take the hit together when the budget is slashed deeply.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  91. vor2:

    Where we seem to disagree is that you don’t agree that all entitlements need to be changed, to include social security and medicare and that just by addressing the federal pay we can solve the existing mess.

    I don’t know why you say this. I have consistently said we need to cut everything.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  92. Not saying there can’t be cuts. There absolutely can. But we’re not the enemy.

    We’re Eye-gor, not Dr. Fronkensteen.

    This isn’t personal to me. It’s you and vor2 who have personalized the discussion by acting like I’m demonizing you and asking what I will sacrifice.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  93. “…and asking what I will sacrifice.”

    oooo, can I pick. :-) I have any offering, ok, I’ll limit it to offering the job of a near-god-like person.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  94. DRJ,

    I guess what I am not following is what you mean by cutting. If you mean freezing all entitlement spending at current levels for a fixed number of years (including Cost of Living raises)and adjusting the long term management of those programs (i.e. social security eligibility age raised 2 years) we agree. Ditto freezing the pay and number of fed positions with plan to cut back the number through elimination of departments and attrition over a set period of about 5 years.
    If you mean cut as in reduce salaries and benefits from current levels (such as the health plan piece that would immediately reduce medicare(caid?) benefits) then we don’t agree.

    vor2 (c9795e)

  95. VOICEOFREASON2 – thank you for speaking my mind. I too agree that the federal government has grown way to large, has too many branches, etc… and employees. I have just been hired, from a contractor, to a government position.

    However – I did 30 years in the Navy and now work doing the same, with security clearance and decades of experience, college degree, schools, etc… so, lets not bad mouth the veteran who gets hired into the government doing the same thing or a simlilar job he/she may have done in the service — that — has no counterpart in the civilian world, per se. Some do, some dont.

    And finally, I do get decent pay, but was essentially blackmailed into taking the gov job, since they said would not fund the contract any longer, so I took a huge pay cut.

    Bitter? Not really. But I am disappointed to be shafted in some respects. So, anyway, being a good soldierboy, I will quit whining about it and be grateful I have a job when so many do not.

    Bottom line: I would like to see government shrink to almost nothing…. And would vote for it too!

    MCPO VET (b5a35a)

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