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Our Public Employee Problem

Congress declined to provide across-the-board salary increases for federal workers in 2011, 2012, and 2013. As a result, between 2010 and 2015, these workers’ pay grew just 2 percent while private-sector pay grew 10 percent thanks to the recovery. And yet federal employees still came out ahead—by a wide margin—when it came to compensation.

An eye-popping new report [1] from the Congressional Budget Office reveals that on average, including both wages and benefits, federal workers receive compensation about 17 percent higher than comparable private-sector employees. Indeed, aside from those with the very highest degrees, Americans across the educational spectrum earn more if they work for the federal government than otherwise:

Of course, any analysis like this comes with a degree of subjectivity. Retirement benefits, for instance, are paid years after the work done to earn them was completed, and thus the CBO had to estimate these benefits’ “present value.” And because the federal workforce is not directly comparable to the private one—they attract different types of workers and tend to require different skills—the CBO needed to take into account a variety of characteristics, not just education but also “occupation, years of work experience, geographic location (region of the country and urban or rural location), size of employer, veteran status, and certain demographic characteristics (age, sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, immigration status, and citizenship).”

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A different method of computing the “present value” of retirement benefits or a different combination of statistical controls might produce a somewhat different result. And the analysis doesn’t include other, harder-to-quantify benefits of working for the federal government, such as increased job security. But this is the newest evaluation of federal-employee compensation, conducted by the legislature’s official budget authority, and it shows that despite a three-year pause in automatic pay raises, federal workers are still getting paid a lot more than comparable employees in the private sector.

So where does that leave us? Let’s flesh out the CBO’s findings with some very rough back-of-the-envelope math.

Overpaid federal workers certainly can’t be blamed for the entirety of our budget woes. The CBO estimates that the federal government spent a total of $215 billion in 2016 compensating its civilian employees, which is much less than half of the budget deficit in that year. And if these workers were overpaid by 17 percent, they should have been paid $184 billion instead (215 divided by 1.17), a difference of about $30 billion. That is a mere 5 percent of the deficit.

It’s also, however, a considerable transfer of wealth to federal workers from everyone else. CBO reports that the federal government’s 2.2 million civilian employees are about 1.5 percent of the nation’s workforce, implying that this $30 billion burden is divided amongst fewer than 150 million non-federal workers. Those workers, then, are forking over about $200 apiece each year to pad the compensation packages the federal government offers. For our federal workers, meanwhile, that $30 billion means a surplus of more than $13,000 apiece, though as shown in the chart above the bonus varies by education level.

And federal workers are just the tip of the public-employee iceberg. At the state and local level the problems are different but if anything even more troubling.

Federal workers receive higher wages and better benefits than private-sector employees, according to the CBO, leaving little doubt that they are better compensated overall. But at lower levels of government, the picture is blurrier, with most studies showing public employees to receive lower wages but better benefits. This makes any analysis highly dependent on how benefits are valued and whether researchers make an attempt to include more subjective public-sector advantages like job security. Here is one study [2] saying that public workers make 4 percent less than the privately employed. Here is another [3], though limited to California, saying that public employees are overcompensated by up to 30 percent once one makes a full accounting of public-sector benefits.

But whether or not non-federal public employees are overpaid for the work they do, their benefits are designed in a way that is wreaking fiscal havoc on governments nationwide. Where the private sector has largely switched to “defined contribution” pensions, where the employer contributes a specific amount while the employee is working (and future benefits depend on how the retirement fund’s investments perform), the public sector still uses the “defined benefit” model, in which the employer is obligated to provide workers a specific level of support in retirement—and governments have not funded their pensions well enough to provide the levels of support they have promised. Governments have often “assumed” the funds would earn higher returns than was realistic so they could contribute less, or even sent workers bonus checks [4] during spells in which the funds performed well, leaving nothing to smooth out future downturns.

Future generations will have to make up the slack or file for bankruptcy—which under current law is an option for municipalities, as Detroit [5] ably demonstrated in 2013, but not states [6]. A 2014 Pew report [7] put the funding gap for state-run pensions at close to $1 trillion. Closing that gap today would require every man, woman, and child in America to chip in almost $3,000, or state governments to dedicate a full year’s tax revenues [8] to the pension shortfall alone.

It is perhaps inevitable that the government’s hiring and compensation practices will be less efficient than those of the private sector. Hopefully it is not inevitable, though, for public workers to be drastically overcompensated or drive our cities and states into insolvency.

Robert VerBruggen is managing editor of The American Conservative.
Follow @RAVerBruggen [9]

47 Comments (Open | Close)

47 Comments To "Our Public Employee Problem"

#1 Comment By Forbe On April 30, 2017 @ 10:43 pm

Is this difference so stark because real wages have been stagnating for so long now for earners below the median (the category I assume most public sector employees fall into), or have public sector wages followed the same trend?

What would be the fiscal consequences of benchmarking public sector wages to private sector wages I wonder? By which I mean when median private sector wages go down, so do public sector wages and vice versa.

#2 Comment By Lee On May 1, 2017 @ 12:00 am

We’re on our way to insolvency, there is no escape…

#3 Comment By John_M On May 1, 2017 @ 2:03 am

The graph itself states that government jobs underpay at the Ph.D / professional level. I can testify that this is true. At one point I looked at federal positions – and the pay and benefits did not match what I make in the private sector. I do have a Ph.D. and something like 30 years of experience in computer and software security. The low government salaries are so problematic that the government has to hire contracting companies to hire the employees, as the government cannot directly pay industry comparable wages.

#4 Comment By William Burns On May 1, 2017 @ 6:01 am

Private sector workers drastically underpaid, CBO study shows.

#5 Comment By JonF On May 1, 2017 @ 6:19 am

The problem is not that federal workers are “overpaid” (which is only true when you consider the benefits) but that private sector workers are underpaid, especially in regards to benefits.

#6 Comment By Charles R Williams On May 1, 2017 @ 8:58 am

The picture is mixed with non-federal employees. Both with respect to compensation and pension benefits. In 2013 future retirees in Ohio took a cut in pension benefits to keep the system solvent. And now all of us have lost our COLAs. So it is not true that the burden of keeping pension promises is falling entirely on the public. The experience of my family is that medical professionals in OH are paid a little less than in FL and public school teachers in OH are paid a lot more. Unionization of public sector workers makes a big difference here.

#7 Comment By Sean Nuttall On May 1, 2017 @ 9:11 am

Maybe the reason they are ” overpaid” is that private industry has been screwing working people over for so long now that the new norm is to never give your employees a raise. We have record corporate profits, but stagnant wage growth. Instead of now screwing over public employees, lets raise the bar for private employees

#8 Comment By Furbo On May 1, 2017 @ 9:19 am

I’m sure these get great reviews and serve to focus reader angst on conservative’s favorite whipping boys – federal employees. I really like this quote “It’s also, however, a considerable transfer of wealth to federal workers from everyone else.” Last time I checked, EVERYONES paycheck was a ‘transfer of wealth’. Gimme a break. As a conservative, and a Federal Employee (Dept of Army), I’d point out a couple things. 1 – there are FEWER Federal employees on the books today than in the mid 60’s. Really. 2- As a Sr Army Civilian, I supervise (rate) Military Officers who make considerably MORE than I do. 3 – if we want to spend less on Federal Salaries, get the Federal Government to do Less with Less.

#9 Comment By Positivethinker On May 1, 2017 @ 10:15 am

Federal jobs are for those who can’t get hired for their qualifications, but can get hired to meet PC quotas.

#10 Comment By Scott On May 1, 2017 @ 11:11 am

I love how the implication is that Federal workers are paid too much. How about, after years of cutting pension benefits and salary suppression, private sector workers are paid too little.

And don’t forget about rising income and wealth inequality which is directly due to wage and benefit suppression.

#11 Comment By Justin On May 1, 2017 @ 11:29 am

Worked at one company where my salary was below the industry median and the company had been cutting benefits for years. Had one executive at same company say to myself and an auditorium of others that our benefits were too good. But other companies I’ve worked with since then have paid better. So cheapskate companies do affect the results from the CBO report.

#12 Comment By Adriana I Pena On May 1, 2017 @ 11:37 am

It is not that government workers are overpaid. Is that too many workers in the private sector are underpaid.

I volunteered at a homeless shelter, and our guests included people who had a job, but could not afford both lodging and trasnportation, so us, out of the goodness of our heart, made sure that the businesses that employed them, got their workforce to show up on time. In other words, we worked for free for those businesses.

So, if private sector wages went up, and business stopped trying to cut labor costs by dumping part of the costs on the rest of us, there would be no such complaints of government workers being overpaid.

#13 Comment By E. J. On May 1, 2017 @ 11:59 am

If it makes you feel any better, local government employees can be dramatically underpaid: in my town, some starting at a library job that requires a master’s degree can initially be paid under $25,000.

#14 Comment By Rabiner On May 1, 2017 @ 12:14 pm

Govt enployees are paid fine. There is disparity at the lower end since why would goverment hiring people full time at a salary that requires them to apply for section 8, food stamps, medicaid and other programs? Makes no sense to do that.

#15 Comment By grumpy realist On May 1, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

And of course it has to be that “federal employees are overpaid” and can’t be “private sector employees are grossly underpaid.”

It also can’t be “let’s pay federal employees a decent wage so that they don’t have to resort to demanding bribery to carry out their tasks, like what happens in a lot of Third-world countries.”

And what do you think is going to happen if you decide to cut the salaries of people in places like the USPTO? Do you think that’s going to entice more qualified people to sign up to carry out patent and trademark examinations? How long do you want to have to wait before a patent gets examined and issued? How long do you think companies want to have to sit around and twiddle their thumbs waiting for their IP to get issued?

Mr. Verbruggen seems to be “penny-wise and pound foolish.”

#16 Comment By March Hare On May 1, 2017 @ 1:04 pm

Gee, I read that bar chart with a different headline in mind:

“Federal Government workers have not yet been screwed out of retirement benefits to the same extent that the rest of the workforce has”

And it is a bit disquieting that you barely acknowledge that the actual salary for highly trained people (who largely make up the “pointy headed bureaucrats” that populists love to hate) is lower than in the private sector.

My personal experience is in line with this. I have an MS, several professional honors, and took a modest pay cut when I moved from the private sector to the public sector 25 years ago. Why? Because I was starting a family and I valued the security and better retirement benefits. Both parties benefited from this. I honored my end of the deal, and in another couple years, I expect my employer to honor theirs.

#17 Comment By jcastarz On May 1, 2017 @ 1:56 pm

It’s not that the federal service has gotten any more lucrative over the years, so much as the rest of the country has economically collapsed around the fed employees, and now they’re the few left standing. By far the bigger concern is how to raise the rest of the country’s wage and benefit standards again – and in MHO, that’s what this article really needed to address.

#18 Comment By FL Transplant On May 1, 2017 @ 3:38 pm

1. I don’t doubt that in many parts of the country obtaining a federal job is sweet, sweet gig. A HS grad in rural TN who can get on with the USPS is going to do much better financially than the person who sat next to them in fifth period who signs on to work at the local Walmart.

2. A significant difference between the federal government and the private sector is that within the federal government jobs that require degrees are paid accordingly–there isn’t any version of the college grad working as a barista, food server, or stocking retail shelves and being pad for that job.

3. I skimmed the report, hunting for the details in the methodology. Did it include part-time work–many in the private sector are part-time employees, with limited if any benefits and a reduced salary. Did it include small, family businesses, which tend to pay poorly when compared to large multinational/international companies (comparing someone’s salary who’s working as the admin support and back office functions for a 30 person small business to someone performing financial management, HR, or IT for Caterpillar would give vastly different salaries)? Couldn’t find the verbiage describing the details in the report. (Did notice the report seems to ignore the USPS other than a footnote in one chart, which was surprising given the numbers of people it employs.)

#19 Comment By Jack Harllee On May 1, 2017 @ 4:04 pm

Cutting Federal compensation by 15%, would make it equal to private sector compensation. The law of supply and demand says that the average quality of the Federal workforce would decline. Is that desirable? Or do normal economic laws for some reason not apply?

#20 Comment By Jon S On May 1, 2017 @ 5:10 pm

It appears that a lot of posters here are taking a more nuanced approach to this type of discussion. 20 years ago, an article like this would have received a rousing round of “huzzahs!”.

I’d suggest a longer term view of this. How has federal vs private sector compensation grown over the last 30 years relative to inflation? Has one grown too much? Has private sector pay stagnated? Has this differential always been with us?

If federal pay were to be cut, would the average Joe’s life improve? Would he get a tax cut? Or would Mr. Richy Rich get a big cut and stuff the money in a mattress in the Cayman’s?

#21 Comment By Just Dropping By On May 1, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

Many good points raised by other commenters, but grumpy realist has the one I find most compelling — there’s a real public interest in terms of anti-corruption effects in compensating government employees at an at least marginally higher rate than what individuals of similar experience, education, etc. would earn in the private sector. It’s something that people seem to forget from their American history classes: the widespread public bribery, graft, etc. that was a huge problem in the 19th Century wasn’t just tamped down by stricter enforcement of anti-corruption laws, it was also accompanied by efforts to make compensation for public employees better so that there was less incentive for unlawful conduct.

#22 Comment By Ken On May 1, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

All the time the private sector has been cutting jobs, eliminating pension plans, reducing or eliminating benefits, the public sector has been fat, dumb and happy to raise add jobs, increase pension plans and enrich benefits. It is way past time to rightsize the publis sector jobs. Just as the private sector has eliminated pension plans and forced 401-k plans on everyone, why has the public sector not followed site. Way past time for the public sector to feel the pain and get a dose of reality.

#23 Comment By Ben Slone On May 1, 2017 @ 7:18 pm

Overpaid? HAHAHAHAHA
Every federal worker I know works a s**t job 60 hours a week for peanuts compared to what an equal version of themselves in the private sector makes. No one chooses federal service for the money. Delusional.

#24 Comment By Douglas Griffith On May 1, 2017 @ 8:10 pm

Where’s the article about CEO’s being overpaid?
I taught for 39 years, all-underpaid, to earn a modest
pension–and TAC wants to point the finger at ME?
Thought you wanted to be “populist”, but apparently
you’re just corporate shills.

#25 Comment By Intelliwriter On May 1, 2017 @ 8:13 pm

Instead of trying to figure out a way to eliminate federal workers’ benefits and lower their pay, we should be thinking about how to raise everyone else. I doubt any federal employee is becoming a multi-millionaire on his salary and pension. The rise of modern, flexible unions could be the answer.

#26 Comment By Just Another Bystander On May 1, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

Maybe instead of complaining about federal employees’ salaries and benefits, private sector workers should ask their own bosses why they aren’t getting better benefits.

#27 Comment By MM On May 2, 2017 @ 12:43 am

Apples to oranges comparison:

– Of the 2.7 million executive branch civilian employees, a full half live on the West Coast, in New England, in Illinois, and around D.C., which is hardly representative of the U.S. private sector workforce, totaling 150 million in all 50 states.
– Public sector union contracts were largely negotiated in good fiscal times and last for decades, and unlike the private sector the cost to the “bottom line” is always passed along to taxpayers, who never have a direct seat at the negotiating table. Federal government unions function essentially as a nationwide closed shop, and “management” (elected officials) can essentially be replaced every 2-6 years.
– Total compensation in the private sector has largely kept pace with productivity, which grew slower after 1980 as compared to the 1950s through 1970s. If government compensation was pegged to productivity, however that would be measured, federal workers would not have the observed premium over comparable private sector workers. One might question why performance bonuses and generous retirement packages are handed after employees at agencies such as the IRS are found to have engaged in political targeting, destruction of subpoenaed documents, false statements and/or pleading the 5th before Congress, etc.

For these and other reason, I respectfully dissent from the general consensus…

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 2, 2017 @ 1:41 am

Yet to mention civil service unions.

Maybe I missed something, but I am unclear what the standard is for determining what constitutes an appropriate wage in either sector.

#29 Comment By MrsDK On May 2, 2017 @ 6:11 am

As a federal employee whose family almost went into foreclosure due to reassignment in 2008 — and whose family is still in financial recovery mode, all these years later — I am so incredibly heartened by these comments.

I work in the national security sector, and we can’t hire the engineers and computer scientists we need. We can’t pay them even close to what they will earn in the private sector. Many of my colleagues-workers go to work for contractors and double their salary. I wish TAC would focus in on the real problems — in the private sector, the concentration of wealth in CEOs — in the defense realm, the amount of wealth transfer to contractors.

#30 Comment By Deacon Nicholas On May 2, 2017 @ 9:36 am

Whether one works in federal service or not, and whether one is actually paid fairly or not, the real issue is simply that people need to live within their means. They must do that, or it will not end well.

#31 Comment By ADC Wonk On May 2, 2017 @ 9:50 am

Hah! You want to know why the Fed’s computer systems aren’t top notch? It’s right in the graph: the top crack computer scientists can make tons more money going private sector.

Folks talk about the threats to society when the gap between rich and poor get too large. The Feds clearly has less of a gap between the low-wage and high-wage employers. This is supposed to be a bad thing?

As FL Transplant said: I don’t doubt that in many parts of the country obtaining a federal job is sweet, sweet gig. A HS grad in rural TN who can get on with the USPS is going to do much better financially than the person who sat next to them in fifth period who signs on to work at the local Walmart.

Again: this is supposed to be a bad thing?

Somebody else above mentioned the following idea: many Wal-Mart employees (even those who are full-time) on are public assistance (e.g., food stamps). So, essentially, the feds — or our tax money — is subsidizing (supplementing) their income. Why in the world should the Feds pay a salary that is so low that they’d qualify for food-stamps?

In any event, regardless of the words in the article, I applaud the full-disclosure by printing the graph.

#32 Comment By MM On May 2, 2017 @ 11:54 am

“So, essentially, the feds — or our tax money — is subsidizing (supplementing) their income.”

I’m neither a Walmart shopper nor shareholder, but last time I checked the corporation paid about $4 billion in taxes, at a 30% effective tax rate. Which is significantly higher than the average U.S. company, so from where I sit Walmart is paying for those public benefits its employees (how many exactly?) are receiving, not you or me.

But even if Walmart paid zero in taxes, the top 20% of income earners would be doing the subsidizing. After all, that quintile is the only one in the income distribution that’s actually a net federal taxpayer anyway…

#33 Comment By here and there On May 2, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

If you can’t work a full-time job without public assistance then why is that job even offered? Maybe we need to redefine ‘full-time’ and ‘job’ because clearly they’re not what they purport to be.

#34 Comment By PA Moderate On May 2, 2017 @ 12:56 pm

I wish TAC would focus in on the real problems — in the private sector, the concentration of wealth in CEOs — in the defense realm, the amount of wealth transfer to contractors.

It’s not just CEOs but also investors as well. For example, recently American Airlines gave its employees raises, at least in part because other airlines are paying their employees more. Wall Street punished AAL for it. Citi analyst Kevin Crissey wrote “This is frustrating. Labor is being paid first again. Shareholders get leftovers.”

The prevailing attitude, which probably has its roots in “trickle-down” nonsense, is that non-executives should never get raises, even if labor markets dictate that they should. This attitude isn’t good for the economy.

#35 Comment By There and Then On May 2, 2017 @ 2:07 pm

This article is an excellent example of how our current corporate-controlled media and government have shifted the discussion over the last few decades. The real argument is not why government employees are paid too much, but why private sector employees are paid too little. While corporate profits surge and corporate executives receive huge salaries and bonuses, real income for the middle class has plummeted. The last battle will be the reduction of government worker pay, pensions, and benefits, thus allowing the wealth to be transferred to the 1% via tax reduction. The author is a good corporate soldier in this battle.

#36 Comment By ADC Wonk On May 2, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

here and there says:

If you can’t work a full-time job without public assistance then why is that job even offered? Maybe we need to redefine ‘full-time’ and ‘job’ because clearly they’re not what they purport to be.

Or let minimum wage keep up with inflation? Or at least somewhere near it?

#37 Comment By Geoff Guth On May 2, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

What William Burns said.

The problem is not that so-called “fat cat” bureaucrats in public service are overpaid. The problem is that the capitalist class, with the active collusion of politicians and media shills, has raped the private sector work force for decades.

Not content with the devastation they have visited upon working- and middle-class families in the private realm, they are now turning the attention to the public sector too (viz. Scott Walker) in an effort to ensure that the economic benefits of society continue to flow only to those at the very top.

This article is a classic example of the sort of class warfare that has been waged on workers for decades. Divide and conquer. Pit one group of workers against another. Exploit any potential fault line in worker solidarity.

Here it is pitting public employees against private. But it could just as well be black against white, rural vs. urban, immigrant vs. native, Christian vs. Muslim. The point is that a divided working and middle class is much more easily exploitable.

The real enemy is who it has always been: the wealthy ruling capitalist class. And, of course, in the article we have a perfect example of one facet of how they operate, through the retention of lackeys and boys to carry out the work of justifying their monumental greed.

Is this class warfare? You had better believe it. But it ain’t the workers who are waging it.

#38 Comment By MM On May 2, 2017 @ 6:26 pm

Take home pay does not = total compensation. That hasn’t been the case since the 1960s. This is a distinction totally lacking from most all discussions of U.S. income:

[10]

Total compensation, which includes non-cash employer-sponsored benefits, has not plummeted, though it did level off during the Great Recession, and there is a productivity gap. But to suggest that entire income groups have fallen into bottomless poverty is not supported by the facts.

#39 Comment By Kevin On May 2, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

” Of the 2.7 million executive branch civilian employees, a full half live on the West Coast, in New England, in Illinois, and around D.C., which is hardly representative of the U.S. private sector workforce, totaling 150 million in all 50 states.”

In other words, the federal workforce tends to live in more expensive areas, and therefore ought to be paid bit above national average.

“Total compensation in the private sector has largely kept pace with productivity, which grew slower after 1980 as compared to the 1950s through 1970”

No it didn’t.
[11]

“One might question why performance bonuses and generous retirement packages are handed after employees at agencies such as the IRS are found to have engaged in political targeting, destruction of subpoenaed documents, false statements and/or pleading the 5th before Congress, etc.”

Leaving aside your dubious contentions (the idea that people should be penalized for using constitutional rights is charming..), the idea that because a handful of senior IRS functionaries misbehaved, we ought to take a cleaver to millions of public employees is .. interesting.

#40 Comment By Tom Brennan On May 2, 2017 @ 10:23 pm

John Mauldin has just been doing a 6-part series on the looming problems of public pension underfunding:
[12]

Pertaining directly to state and local workers, eg he says this:
“Repeat Sheehan’s last line and burn it into your brain: “An underfunded pension plan can only pay claims with dollars that exist.” No one gets anything if the money isn’t there, and in a disturbing number of places it isn’t.”

#41 Comment By EngineerScotty On May 3, 2017 @ 12:58 am

It is heartening to see, on a conservative blog no less, large numbers of commenters attacking the central argument of this article: that government employees are overpaid and should be brought down to size.

What we need instead is tax policy that claws back from the wealthy what they have been taking from the rest of us.

#42 Comment By Jake V On May 3, 2017 @ 8:17 am

I have a cousin and her husband who both work for the federal government in Washington, DC. They are both in their early 50s. He was given a great promotion but could not do the job. They didn’t fire him but instead took away his window office and stopped giving him work to do. From now until he retires he will likely not be asked to do anything. He is a GS-15 and makes $135,000/year. His wife is also a GS-15. She coordinates office moves (doing things like assigning people to cubicles). For this their combined income is $270,000/year. Great for them. But not for the taxpayer.

#43 Comment By MM On May 3, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

Given the contempt on display with regard to the wealthy in the private sector, who incidentally pay all net federal taxes, I’d be remiss in failing to pointing out that the overclass is well-represented in the federal government, where about 25% of all workers earn over $100,000 per year:

[13]

I’ll also point out that most federal workers are only required to pay less than 1% of their earnings into the federal retirement system, whereas most all private sector workers have 6% taken from their paychecks for Social Security every month.

So if the argument is that the wealthy don’t pay “enough”, however that’s measured, then not only are federal workers paid too much, they also aren’t taxed enough…

#44 Comment By MM On May 3, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

Kevin: “No it didn’t.”

I was referring to labor productivity growing faster before 1980 (or rather the mid-1970s), a fact which is confirmed by the BLS and not in dispute:

[14]

“The idea that people should be penalized for using constitutional rights is charming.”

I was unaware that destruction of subpoenaed documents, false statements before Congress, and viewpoint discrimination by a government agency were constitutionally protected! Pleading the 5th is a natural response to unlawful behavior, I admit, but that’s a novel defense of government malfeasance…

#45 Comment By TR On May 3, 2017 @ 9:52 pm

Dear God, a populist revolt in the pages of TAC. How refreshing! I doubt if the managing editor is paying attention, however.

#46 Comment By Houston5 On May 4, 2017 @ 10:21 am

To MM: New federal workers in the last thirty years have been paying social security.

#47 Comment By MM On May 4, 2017 @ 12:33 pm

Thanks Houston5, I was unaware. I may have been thinking of local and state government employees.

By chance how much of their gross income do they have to pay into SS?