Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Are government workers overpaid? Maybe they are, at least their pension plans are way outside the bounds of reality. But I still have to wonder, besides pensions, are government workers overcompensated? Or, is it more accurate to say that private workers are undercompensated?

When I was a kid most tradespeople, hell, most skilled blue collar workers, could live a decent middle class lifestyle on one income. My parents did and so did the families of a large number of my friends. But now, after 40 years of inflation, competition with slave labor and lack of regulation from foreign countries and wages that have declined in real terms, a blue collar guy can't do that anymore.

A government worker, on the other hand, just might be able to because his wages have in part kept up with inflation.

So is that government guy overpaid? Or is he being paid a wage more in line with economic reality? One that hasn't been depressed by the greed and manipulation that is part and parcel of our hyper-competitive, winner take all, debt based capitalism?

And if he's not overcompensated then I have to wonder why it is that so many, apart from the pension crap, think he is? Or do they? I wonder how many of my conservative brothers and sisters have thought this one through? Is it possible that capitalism, at least as it's understood in today's economy, really isn't the best way? I'm not saying Marxism is good. It's not. In fact, I'd argue that it's intrinsically evil, something that you can't say about capitalism.

Still, there's something really wrong with our system. Capitalism, left to it's own devices, will always result in the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few. And as wealth accumulates so does power. Over time the majority of the people end up as wage slaves carrying crushing debt, owning no property and left to beg at the feet of the wealthy for jobs, loans to rent houses (mortgages) and little or no real ability to change much of that. The best most of us can hope for is to work all our lives to pay off our mortgage so that we can live at least a couple years on property of our own, which in reality still isn't ours. Just don't pay the real estate tax and see what happens.

Sure, some few break out and make a success of themselves and gain some level of independence but even they, the small business owners, are still chasing dollars to service debt in one form or another. Because unless a person is independently wealthy (free) they will at some point borrow money to grow their business. And generally that debt isn't dependent on the success or failure of the business. It isn't an investment by a third party willing to take a risk. It's a noose around your throat supplied by a friendly banker, all smiles and handshakes. Your business succeeds and you share the profit. It fails and the bank still profits- you take the loss.

Pretty much the same way the banks have worked us over in the public sector, too. They make themselves too big to fail, or at least they sell that lie to the public, so they can privatize their gains and socialize their loses. They always win, we always take the risk.

And now the people with the wealth and the power have been busy selling a new meme, the one that is meant to convince us that it's right and proper to take an ever decreasing wage for the same work while the price of everything we buy goes up. And they're doing it by stirring up jealousy and resentment towards government employees. Really, isn't this the same game the Marxists always play with their eat the rich crap. Looks to me like in the end there's very little difference between the strategy of the left and the right. Which makes me wonder just how different their end goals are, too.

While there are some very legitimate questions to ask about government employee compensation there's no reason for us to get all pitch forky on 'em.

We're being played by the same people that are stripping us of our own freedom and we're too blinded by ideology to see it.


  1. SOME government employees are grossly underpaid, usually the ones with the hardest jobs. MANY are overpaid, especially those with the cushy jobs. Sounds kinda like the private sector, doesn't it?

    1. Just like the private sector and that's my point. Apart from the pensions most of the guys I know that have government jobs don't really make all that much money. The guys at the top? Well, that's an entirely different story. It sure seems to me that many in the Republican party are playing the same class warfare game with this issue that the Democrats do with the rich. Which just makes me even more certain that Republican/Democrat - Capitalist/Communist are all just different sides of the same coin.

  2. I've been too busy to read this until now. Not much to disagree with here. I DO think the way teachers are paid is a bit crazy though. I used to date a girl out in House Springs that only made 20k teaching high school. That was about 15-years ago. I still doubt that the salary out there is much beyond 25k. But we have grade school teachers here in Belleville making well over 50k. Honestly, I don't think any grade school teacher is worth more than 40k in this economy, especially considering they'll have the entire summer off plus a ton of holidays that you and I will never get paid for. And if they do teach summer school they'll get compensated for it above and beyond that 40k. They also get a lot of paid trips for various purposes. Teachers along with cops tend to have ridiculous pensions and early retirement plans that are too good to pass up.

    Something else that bothers me is how high on the hog folks live these days. Every other house is a mansion compared to the houses people had when I was growing up. Everywhere you look there are nothing but expensive houses in new-ish subdivisions. Where do you even go to buy an inexpensive NEW house anymore? And the building codes make it very difficult to build a cheap house now. When I was a kid in East St. Louis, if a neighbor wanted to build a couple of rooms onto his house, the other neighbors would get together and help him do it. Things like wiring and air vents were simple back then. There were no regulations to speak of, and everybody just did the best they could. My dad built his own house when he was 14 years old. He had an aunt who knew a good bit about building, and she sat in a chair in the yard and told him what to do. Houses were so uncomplicated in those days with shingle siding and tarred roofs that anybody could build a house. They weren't fancy, but they really weren't too bad either. Fire hazards maybe, but it was worth the risk. Now you aren't allowed to take risks. And poor people are forced to rent for life. My neighbor rents and only makes about 22K per year. He has a hard job and is a few years older than me. He can't physically work a second job. The poor guy's worn out. He'll never own a home.

    What I wouldn't give to live in the days of Daniel Boone when you could just pick out a few acres of land and commence to building a house and farming. Life might not have been easy, but at least everyone had an equal chance. The Industrial Revolution killed that original American Dream. Fat cats are dream killers.

    1. You know, maybe I've just been reading way too much Belloc and Chesterton lately but I agree with you on the industrial revolution. But I'd throw usury and unrestrained Capitalism in there, too.

      The older I get the more of a Distributist I become. Return the power to the common man by returning him to the land - the land that he owns and works for his own benefit. Break up huge government, huge corporations and huge banks. Subsidiarity is the key. Let us live or lives in our local communities dealing with our neighbors in their small shops and on their small farms. Create local currencies or forms of exchange. Make the biggest government you ever have to deal with the one in your county.

      I'm just finishing "Crisis of Civilization" by Hillaire Belloc. He puts forth some really interesting solutions to today's problems, particularly since he put them forth in 1931. If you haven't read it I'd highly recommend it.

      And I still need to comment back on your blog. Somehow or another things just got busy around here and I haven't been doing much computin' of late. I only posted on mine because this whole issue of government employee pay and the way it's being manipulated by the right just hit me wrong.

  3. "Which just makes me even more certain that Republican/Democrat - Capitalist/Communist are all just different sides of the same coin."
    “in hell there is democracy and in Heaven there is a Kingdom.” ~Saint John of Kronstadt

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  5. One salary would still be sufficient if every family did not need two cars, more if there is a teen. One television is sufficient. Does every child over 10 really need a cell phone or iphone with an internet plan? Is continual eating out, fast food, and expensive processed food really what we need?

    I am not in any way suggesting that women stay home. But, both parents could work, both could do chores, kids could get a job, and there would be sufficient money for families that did not try to keep up with everyone else.

  6. I am principal of a government run school. We are a year around program and yet my wages are far less than my public school counterparts. I do have good health and retirement, but they have better dental and vision. I haven't had a cost of living increase for three years prior. This year we got a cost of living, but the social security change actually caused our salaries to go down. I have a hard time seeing where government workers are getting paid so much better.