Friday, April 30, 2010

Feds Earn Too Much

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Personally, I think if a fed gets paid even one penny, it is too much. Anyway, here is the Washington Examiner:

For decades, public sector unions have peddled the fantasy that government employees were paid less than their counterparts in the private sector. In fact, the pay disparity is the other way around. Government workers, especially at the federal level, make salaries that are scandalously higher than those paid to private sector workers. And let's not forget private sector workers not only have to be sufficiently productive to earn their paychecks, they also must pay the taxes that support the more generous jobs in the public sector.

Data compiled by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals the extent of the pay gap between federal and private workers. As of 2008, the average federal salary was $119,982, compared with $59,909 for the average private sector employee. In other words, the average federal bureaucrat makes twice as much as the average working taxpayer. Add the value of benefits like health care and pensions, and the gap grows even bigger. The average federal employee's benefits add $40,785 to his annual total compensation, whereas the average working taxpayer's benefits increase his total compensation by only $9,881. In other words, federal workers are paid on average salaries that are twice as generous as those in the private sector, and they receive benefits that are four times greater.

The situation is the same when state and local government compensation data is compared with that of the private sector. As the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards notes in the current issue of the Cato Journal, "The public sector pay advantage is most pronounced in benefits. Bureau of Economic Analysis data show that average compensation in the private sector was $59,909 in 2008, including $50,028 in wages and $9,881 in benefits. Average compensation in the public sector was $67,812, including $52,051 in wages and $15,761 in benefits." Those figures likely underestimate the true gap on the benefits side because the typical government employee gets a guaranteed defined benefit pension under very generous terms, while the private sector norm is a 401(K) defined contribution plan that is subject to the ups and downs of the economy.

With the federal deficit and national debt heading into the stratosphere, taxpayers can no longer afford to support such lucrative government compensation. Public sector pay and benefits at all levels should be reduced to make it comparable to the wages and benefits earned by the average working taxpayer. The first politician to propose a five-year plan for this purpose is likely to be cheered mightily by taxpayers.

And if you want some anecdotal evidence, look no further than the comments section of the article. Here is a comment that was "liked" by 20 people:

Jim 19 hours ago in reply to Capt Renault
20 people liked this.
As a retired Fed who did manpower management and organizational structure analysis, I can tell you that Feds are way overpayed compared to thier civilian counterparts. And that has been the case for a long time, at least 20 plus years. I had that argument regularly over the years.

But it is funny, they all believe they are payed poorly. I am now in private industry and when I hear my old compatriots talk about how much they would be making if they moved to private industry, I have to laugh. What is even funnier is when they actually do move and then they remember the days when they didn't have to work as hard and they got payed more. Its a shock to their system.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Troll's Remorse IRL

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Even soldiers are human. I really like this letter, because it shows that even the cogs can wake up and repent. The evil is not in the people, it is in the system. I wonder if the Iraqis will ever be able to forgive the Americans for what they have done?

From Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military

Peace be with you.

To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the “Collateral Murder” Wikileaks video:

We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.

We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.

We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.

We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of "god and country". The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn't have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.

More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.

Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the value of our nation's leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won't lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation's importance pales in comparison to our common humanity.

We have asked our fellow veterans and service-members, as well as civilians both in the United States and abroad, to sign in support of this letter, and to offer their names as a testimony to our common humanity, to distance ourselves from the destructive policies of our nation's leaders, and to extend our hands to you.

With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask. Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.

Solemnly and Sincerely,
Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Anarchist Survey

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There is an Anarchist Survey afoot. I encourage all anarchists to take it.

80% of People Say: No More Government

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So why don't we have a nationwide vote on whether or not to just get rid of government altogether? Ironically, being an anarchist, I myself would abstain from voting even on this issue.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they do not trust the government to do what is right, expressing the highest level of distrust in Washington in half a century, according to a public opinion survey.

Only 22 percent of Americans say they trust the government "just about always" or "most of the time," according to the Pew Research Center survey released on Sunday.

Americans' trust in the federal government has been on a steady decline from a high of 73 percent during the Eisenhower administration in 1958, when the "trust" question was first posed in a national survey, the research center said.

Economic uncertainty, a highly partisan environment and overwhelming discontent with Congress and elected officials were all factors contributing to the current wave of public distrust, the report said.

The long, bitter debate over the healthcare law that President Barack Obama signed last month made negative feeling about government, particularly Congress, even worse, according to the report based on a series of surveys of some 5,000 people.

About 25 percent had a favorable opinion of Congress, the lowest in 25 years of surveying, and less than half (40 percent) said the Obama administration was doing an excellent or good job, Pew said.

Americans were found to be more frustrated than angry, with 56 percent expressing frustration with the federal government, compared with 21 percent who said they were angry.

Forty-three percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents who lean Republican and 57 percent of those who agree with the Tea Party movement said the government presents a major threat to their personal freedom.

That compares with 18 percent of Democrats, 21 percent of independents who lean Democratic and 9 percent of those who disagree with the Tea Party movement.

The main survey of 2,505 adults was conducted March 11-21. Three other surveys of about 1,000 adults each were conducted March 18-21, April 1-5 and April 8-11. The margin of sampling error for the surveys is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

(Reporting by Joanne Allen, Editing by Vicki Allen)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wikileaks and Whistle-blowers

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An informative discussion about Wikileaks.

Wikileaks and Whistle-blowers from Brian Lehrer Live on Vimeo.

My favorite part in the video is at about the 6:00 mark, where the host asks Glenn Greenwald if Wikileaks is a threat to national security. Glenn replies beautifully by saying that government secrecy itself is the true threat to national security.