Where servants have higher salaries than their masters

Government | Marvin Olasky

Where servants have higher salaries than their masters

Washington, D.C.
AFP/Getty Images/Photo by Mandel Ngan

What if the Downton Abbey servants had higher incomes than the Crawleys?

That’s the looking-glass world of Washington, D.C., where “public servants” on average have pay and benefits much higher than those they serve, their private-sector counterparts. One indication of that: Seven of the 10 most affluent U.S. counties sit in the Virginia and Maryland environs of our nation’s capital. According to a Congressional Budget Office report last year, “Overall, the federal government paid 16 percent more in in total compensation than it would have if average compensation had been comparable with that in the private sector, after counting for certain observable characteristics of workers.”

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The Washington Post every day is doing its job as defender of the One Big Industry that floats its boat, just as Detroit newspapers used to do for the Big Three automakers.

Last September the Post bragged that the “Washington region has emerged from the recession looking even more affluent compared with the rest of the country.”

Yesterday, though, the Post published long articles on the sequester’s potential effects, starting with “White House releases state-by-state breakdown of sequester’s effects.” The fear is palpable: “Democrats expressed worry that they might be forced to accept the cuts if the public outcry is not loud enough in coming weeks.”

The Post detailed how the Washington area would suffer if the sequester goes through—for instance, civilian personnel at the Defense Department might work one day less per week and receive a 20 percent cut in pay. Reminds me of Lamar Alexander’s campaign when he ran for president: “Let’s cut their pay and send them home.”

That meat-ax approach, of course, doesn’t reflect the important contributions many federal employees make—but it is time to bring government compensation in line with what the private sector pays. If the big bad sequester starts on Friday, the rest of the country may gain a little ground on the Washington, D.C., area.

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