Comments about ‘Letter: Federal employees’

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Published: Saturday, Nov. 30 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Mountanman
Hayden, ID

Too many federal employees harm the economy by running up the deficit. How? Their salary and benefits are paid for by taxpayers. Lets say the average federal employee earns $75K per annum and pays 20% federal income taxes. Do the math! The difference must be made up by the private sector. The more private sector employees we have, the better our economy! That's why big government and redistribution will always fail economically.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

To finish my thoughts above, assuming the same salary and tax rates for a private sector employee, it takes 5 private sector workers to financially support one government employee. This is not to say we don't need government workers, but it points out how vital a vibrant private sector economy really is compared to big government! When you consider all the other expenses the government incurs, it demonstrates even more clearly how any and all vibrant economies are paid for by the private sector. It also demonstrates how short sighted any government is that does not enable the private sector instead of destroying it with, dare I say it: entitlements, socialism and redistribution. This is the sad lesson our friends on Europe are learning and the future of America if we don't change!

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

We love to carp about the size of the federal workforce but a few things to keep in mind.

Our federal (non military) workforce is smaller now than it has been for much of the last 40 years. The largest federal workforce (non military) occurred under Reagan.

This letter writer hits on a key point. The federal government is a huge job creator. The DOD is the largest employer in the world.

Think about the impact of the government workforce in Utah alone. 15% of the workforce is from Fed, State or local government agencies.

Be careful what you wish for.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

As the local culture has it, federal workers are "faceless bureaucrats," even though they might be our neighbors and friends and far from being "faceless." They deliver vital services and deserve to be compensated for their efforts. Unlike most professionals in the private sector, they're never going to get rewarded with ESOPs or stock options.

Nate
Pleasant Grove, UT

@Dean Nyffeler

Last year our nation borrowed $680 billion. While this is down from the previous four years, it is still the fifth largest deficit in history. We cannot go on spending and borrowing at this rate and expect to remain solvent. At some point, math takes over.

Credit rating agencies around the world have been downgrading their ratings of the U.S. government. When the S&P did this in 2011, they cited a few reasons, including instability resulting from a deeply divided Congress, disagreement over the level of taxation, and our reluctance to reform entitlement spending, which was seen as a key to achieving long-term stability. Despite this, Congress won't do anything to rein in Medicare, choosing instead to cut across the board.

If I were employed by the federal government, I would probably be looking for another line of work. I'm not saying that their service is not valuable. I'm saying that I don't see how the U.S. can sustain current levels of spending. We have big adjustments to make. And no one wants their livelihoods to be bounced around each time Congress and the president go to the brink arguing about it.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Except for defense, why should Federal Government workers work outside of Washington? The Federal Government has seventeen authorized duties, none of which require a presence outside the District (except defense). All duties not enumerated in the Constitution are left to the States or to the people. The States should be responsible to handle all duties "required" by Washington.

For instance, if the (unathorized) health department requires that swimming pools at a national park (unauthorized) be certified, the State (whose "owns" that land) should certify those pools. The FAA may be a program that needs tight coordination, but air controllers work in control centers outside of Washington. Why are they federal workers? Why are they not Utah Air Controllers who are responsible for aircraft passing through Utah's air space?

No one wants essential services to shut down. Obama's duty is to see that laws are enforced, not to shut down essential services. The funding for every program had been authorized by the House, that branch of government that has primary responsibility to levy taxes on us to fund government programs. Obama's ill-fated ObamaCare, which Obama would not fully enforce, was the ONLY program not funded.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Mike Richards:

You mention air traffic control, and suggest each state should monitor their own airspace, employ their own air traffic controllers - presumably including aircraft safety inspectors, as well - the states should simply coordinate air traffic together, etc. How to reconcile differing views among the states on the role of government and aviation safety?

With no FAA, states would compete with each other for less stringent aircraft safety standards, sort of how they compete to attract business with lower wages.

It's not hard to imagine that Texas would not enforce any safety standards, preferring to let consumers make travel decisions based on safety statistics. "We are truly free in Texas, and that means no safety regulations". In other words, travelers would base their decisions on how many people died in plane crashes.

Some states, being cash strapped, may elect to have no air traffic control at all, and let pilots just look out for other aircraft, including crop dusters, military aircraft, small planes and airliners. Maybe they would defer the issue to the cities.

As a pilot, I can tell you this is a ridiculously bad idea, and would dissemble an aviation system the rest of the world envies.

ECR
Burke, VA

It is interesting to read the comments about this subject and then compare the number of executive branch federal employees (the ones that work for the president) over the recent years. In 1982 there were 2.770M federal workers at the end of the Carter Administration and the beginning of the Reagan administration. by 1985 the number had risen to 3.008M and by 1991 it was 3.048M. The number of executive branch employees was cut during the Clinton Administration to 2.640M and remained essentially the same with a slight increase starting in 2009. Today the number is 2.756M.

Mountanman likes to state the obvious that more jobs in the private sector would be more beneficial to the economy than more federal jobs. This is certainly true. But consider where those "private sector " jobs are coming from. I know of one division in one federal agency that has 4 federal employees who are supported by 14 private sector contractors working in their office. Now let's just consider if those private sector contractors got contracts in the real private sector, what would that mean. There are billions or trillions of private dollars sitting in banks that could be invested in the economy. What are people waiting for?

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

10CC,

One of the authorized duties of Congress is to regulate Interstate Commerce, i.e., Congress can make rules that are binding on all States when Interstate Commerce is involved. Most commercial air traffic is Interstate, not intrastate. Congress has the right set standards, but the States had the duty to implement those standards. The Federal Government is not given authority to enter a State and to perform duties for that State - except defense. Utah already has the people who control air traffic. Utah already has the computers which are connected to the computers in other States that monitor air traffic. There is no need for the air traffic controllers to be empl0yed by the Federal Government. The regulations are legislated by the Federal Government and then the State(s) - if they wish to have Interstate Air Traffic - must comply with those standards.

Think about traffic control. The Highway patrol enforces traffic laws on State and Interstate roads. The County and/or city enforces traffic laws on city and county roads. There is very little duplication. Each police force knows the limits of its authority. The Federal Government pretends that there is no limit to its authority.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Isn't it funny that every single time we have a repub President the number of federal employees and national deficit skyrocket? Whether it's Reagan's tripling of our deficit or Bush's TSA, Department of Homeland Security, and Patriot Act.

Want big government and nanny state? Vote GOP.

Want to shrink government and bring the deficit under control? Vote Democrat.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Mike --

I appreciate it when you attack me for being a "rat" Veteran and working for the DoD,
and then
get on your little soap-box lamenting that our Military is the only Constitutionally authorized program of the Federal Government.

How can you twist and dodge like that?

As for the FAA not being an Authorized Federal Program,
and thinking each and every State should be doing Air Traffic control...

I look at Utah's education spending,
and see nothing by planes falling out of the sky.

Tell you what,
let's see Utah take care of it's own forest fires before we even dream about letting us take care of the Nation's air traffic.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Federal workers are despised by some Americans because they are employed as the frontline against criminals, cheats and other bad guys. It is my opinion that the actions of the people who hate government tells us their true nature.

Some Federal workers are given an elite status because they wear a uniform and are sometimes the frontline against foreign forces. They are the Military.

The reason for the great disparity between the groups is the people they protect and support. Most civilian Federal workers are there to protect and assist ordinary Americans while the military is occupied with protecting and helping American businessmen in their foreign agendas.

Miss Piggie
Phoenix, AZ

Firstly, if the federal retirement fund is losing money (i.e., more outgo than income) then the retirement deduction should be increased. Same with social security.

Secondly, the average federal employee gets paid more than the average non-federal employee. Perhaps there needs to be a pay cut-back.

micawber
Centerville, UT

@Mike Richards:

Some federal workers must live outside Washington, D.C. Federal courts, for example,must be located in the areas they serve.

the old switcharoo
mesa, AZ

The problem is that the t-party is full of dreamers with no action. They want to live on their own in Alaska, living off the land and paying no taxes but they don't have the guts.

If you don't like civilization, hit the road. It's really that simple.

Swiss
Price, Utah

Miss Piggie. I agree with your first point. Soon your second point I cannot agree. As a civil service employee with bachelors degree in geology and an MPA I never earned more than $67,000 even in a supervisory position or after reaching 33 years of federal service. If you compare that to other geologists in the oil and gas industry and you will see that your statement
does not hold in Az or Utah. You need to get to the federal appointees to see where the money is being wasted. Czars and other schedule c appointees who burrow into civil service positions when administrations change at their high salaries is where the money is being spent/ often wasted!

JoeCapitalist2
Orem, UT

Mountainman: Your 5 to 1 ratio of private to public sector jobs is only valid if the average private sector job had the same level of salary and benefits as the average public sector job. Unfortunately, the private sector has many more low skilled (and thus low waged) jobs than does the government so the ratio is probably more like 10 to 1.

Actually, the government is much more likely to overpay a worker than is the private sector. If you earn $100K but only contribute $60K of value in your job, the private sector is unlikely to keep you on for long because the company will likely go out of business if it overpays its workers. The government on the other hand, has no such economic system in place. It can't go out of business just because it overpaid all its workers.

Pay a bunch of people a half billion dollars to set up a web site and they all fail miserably. In the private sector, that whole project would be scrapped because the company went out of business. In the government, you just get a whole bunch more money thrown at it. (And yes liberals, the military overpays for things too.)

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