The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Drain the Swamp

Like most things that Donald Trump says, his mantra "Drain the Swamp" is notably imprecise. Does he mean that he wants to rid the government of corrupt, overpaid officials, or does he mean that he wants to help the taxpayers in eliminating massive fraud and abuse that pervade most government agencies and federal programs, or does he mean that he wants to downsize the federal government, eliminating many unnecessary positions (by not filling them when they are vacated via resignation or retirement), or does he mean he wants to eliminate entire federal agencies that have outlived their usefulness, are redundant, or simply waste the taxpayers' money? I hope the answer to my very long, multipart question is: YES.

Big Intrusive Government (BIG), the ideological cornerstone of the Democratic party, is the "swamp." It needs to be drained in many ways.

No matter who is in power, BIG grows, increasing the national debt, intruding on our liberties, getting in the way of innovation, and generally acting as a nanny when citizens should rely on themselves, their friends, associates, and family. BIG officials and the politicians that control them give out freebies for votes. And the bureaucracy grows bigger and richer every day.

Norman Leahy reports on the current compensation for federal employees:
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office translates [overall employee compensation] into dollars and cents. While federal employees tend to receive lower salaries than their counterparts in the private sector, they enjoy far more generous benefits. As a result, the CBO reports that federal workers receive “17 percent more in total compensation.”

For the government’s 2.2 million civilian workers, that added up to $215 billion in fiscal year 2016, an average of more than $97,000 per person in wages and benefits. In comparison, a December 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated average compensation for private sector workers: $68,141 per year.

No college degree? No big deal. The CBO reports that federal employees with a high school education or less earn 53 percent more than their private sector peers. Even those federal workers with more education, up to a bachelor’s degree, receive 21 percent more in total compensation.

It is only at the highest education levels – those with graduate degrees – that private sector workers fare better than civil servants. For this group, total private sector compensation is 18 percent higher than it is for federal employees.
But of course, the service we get from our federal employees is so, so good that they deserve better pay, even more job stability, and amazing that us poor slobs in the private sector can only imagine. After all, federal employees are measured carefully on customer service, on productivity, and on the direct benefit they provide to their organization. They work super hard to reduce spending and improve the bottom line for their organization. They never adopt a spend-it-or-lose-it attitude toward budgets. They ... wait ...

All of that happens in the private sector. In the public sector, almost no one cares about budgetary restraint, redundancy, suboptimal performance, incompetence, or anything else that really matters. Instead far too many federal managers worry instead about growing their fiefdom and enhancing their power, while line employees may have the right intent, but recognize that they are immune from any real accountability or discipline.

There is something wrong with this picture and even a half-hearted attempt at "draining the swamp" should be applauded.