Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Pay Cuts For Government Employees

Don't ask if you deserve the pay-cut caused by the budget squeeze.

Ask if you deserved to be paid as much as you were getting in the first place.

Unless you run the risk of being "killed in the line of duty", I'm gonna guess not.


  1. Harvey,
    I say this in all fairness, not just because I AM a govt employee. This is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard you say.

    1. Granted that many government employees are paid way too much. Mismanagement of the payroll is not the way to equalize that imbalance.

    2. The larger problem is that there are too many government employees. Sequestering only "fires" each employee 12% of the time, so that no manager will have to make any hard choices about firing anyone 100% of the time. So, again, by mismanagement, we make exactly the wrong choice for greater future health of the system.

    3. The larger problem still is that many of those people are needed to perform all those things that Congress tell them to do. Congress does that because hypothetically, they are listening to the American people. If American people would stop asking their government to do stuff, we could get by on a lot less government employees.

    4. The hazardous nature of a job does not in itself prove that the job is needed or valuable. Soldiers are generally thought to be "putting their lives on the line", But wars are a choice made by politicians. If the politicians did not choose to put our troops all over the world in various harmful places, then their jobs would be relatively safe too.

    5. The real solution is strip power from the government. But since that is not possible, I suppose a mismanaged cut in spending is the best we can hope for. Yes, it sucks to be singled out by the government for what amounts to a special tax increase on my income. But I have always thought so when it happened to other people too so i feel I am on safe ground complaining when it happens to me.

    6. No doubt, I get paid way more than i am worth. But I didn't make these rules. I competed for the job I have, played by the rules, and at every turn try to give good value back. It is government mismanagement that prevents me from being worth what I am paid.

    7. I am a salaried Employee. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that I will get the full salary that my employer agreed to pay me. They agreed to pay me that in exchange for me selling my services to them instead of someone else. I have kept my part of the bargain. It is a conservative principle to pay your employees what you owe them.

  2. On overpaid government employees, I was thinking more along the lines of this scene from "The Fountainhead":

    PETER KEATING: I can’t understand why I slipped like that ... from the top ... without any reason at all ...”

    ELLSWORTH TOOHEY: Well, Peter, that could be terrifying to contemplate. The inexplicable is always terrifying. But it wouldn’t be so frightening if you stopped to ask yourself whether there’s ever been any reason why you should have been at the top....

  3. "I am a salaried Employee. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that I will get the full salary that my employer agreed to pay me."

    Well, if you stop doing your job, you deserve to get a cut in pay or canned. When is the last time you ever heard of this happening to any government employee?

    Sorry. When all Government employees have to demonstrate their value to their boss (ME, the TAXPAYER) every single day of their life, just like I have to demonstrate my value to MY boss every single day of MY life, then we will be on something like an equal footing. Until then, Fuckem all, the long and the short and the tall.

  4. I don't believe there is such a thing as an equal footing for anyone, so I never claimed there should be one here. And I fully accept the idea of getting my compensation cut if I am under-performing. But you are not my boss. And in the sense that the taxpayers are the bosses of all the civil service, they are so only collectively. Thus, you are personally the boss of only a hundred millionth part of me. My real life boss signed an official government record swearing that I deserve my pay. He does that every year. If you wish to argue that he is a moron you will need to find an opponent elsewhere.

  5. My ex works for the State of Wisconsin. When Scott Walker made her pay a little more for that Cadillac health insurance she gets, she would not stop screaming bloody murder.

    However, from years of her complaints & horror stories (not to mention actually meeting her co-workers), I'm quite convinced the lot of them (including her) would've been fired for incompetence or unreliability years ago in the private sector.

    So yeah, I'm biased, but only because I've been hearing for years how crappy government workers are, and how it's easier to cure herpes than to fire one of them, no matter how much they deserve it.

  6. "But you are not my boss"

    yes, actually, I am. And I am your bos's boss too. Despite years and years of indoctrination to the contrary, each "Civil servant" is and should always be beholden to the taxpayers who pay his or her bills. The disconnect from this simple fact is the root of the problem. I never, ever, ever lose sight of the fact that every one of my customers is my boss, and I spend all my time doing everything I can to make sure that each and every one of them is happy with the work that I do. I do this because they are not a collective, nor are human beings a collective. And no matter what you have been trained to think, the end user of your product is your boss, and if you don't know that instinctively, you can never do a private sector job. I am the end user of every product of our government, and I am frankly pissed. The problem is, all my employees have surrounded themselves with layers of protection preventing them from being fired for their incompetence, which is, in a word, epic.

  7. Nothing new there. The problem then is all those other bosses who are just fine with things the way they are and want more things done for them and to them by government employees at every level. Since most of the bosses are happy (you can't please everyone) nothing is going to change. Do you really use up a lot of time trying to make that one customer happy that is just never going to understand what you do for him and wants you to charge half as much and get it done in half the time?

    Me neither.

    The truth is that customers for large businesses (like your governments) want diametrically opposing things. If you do not believe that you should have to register your guns then it doesn't matter how cheerful and efficient the gun registration clerk is.

    My "boss", like it or not, is Obama, and his bosses, the voters, handed him a big thumbs up just a few months ago. The congress also has a lot to say about what I do and how big my department is to do it. Most of them got re-elected too, demonstrating that their customers are happy.

    The "boss" has the power to hire, fire, and pay. you by yourself have none of those powers. Customers and bosses are not the same thing. Nor are they interchangeable.

  8. Do you really use up a lot of time trying to make that one customer happy that is just never going to understand what you do for him and wants you to charge half as much and get it done in half the time?

    Yes. That's what a professional does.

    "Customers and bosses are not the same thing."

    That is the absolute height of ignorance.

    Just because as a taxpayer I don't have the ability to hire and fire, does not mean that's not the way it should be. if that's the way it was, there would eb a damned sight fewer issues.

    Anything else ignorant you'd like to have cleared up for you? Just because you choose to believe this nonsense does not make it true.