Recent postings on the growing spread between private sector and government sector employment elicited some protest, many who claimed that most government workers could make more in the private sector.
This is true for some. Many of the people who work in top positions for the Treasury or the Fed could make more in private employment. So could many lawyers who decide to work in the Federal legal system?
Some work for the government to get experience to use in the private sector. Many private sector environmental attorneys use their years in the EPA on their resume. Their contacts in the EPA help them solve legal issues for their clients in the private sector. The same is true for many tax lawyers and accountants whose experience working for the IRS improves their value in the private sector. Many of these could have made more in the private sector during their tenure in the government, but their tenure served to increase their pay in the private sector.
The same is true for many elected officials. Tom Daschle made so much money as a lobbyist after losing his Senate seat that Obama had to remove him from consideration for his cabinet. Sam Nunn is making much more as a private sector attorney than he did as a Senator. Would Bill Clinton be making $500,000 for a speech if he didn’t have President of the US on his resume? Would Al Gore be worth $100 million were if not for his political contacts and experience?
Federal employment for many is worth far more for its future value that it is for its current paycheck.
But I contend that the vast majority of the lower level workers could not make as much in the private sector as they make in government. Thirty years ago it may have been different. Today these workers are getting higher pay, better benefits, and far more job security.
There is not ten percent unemployment in the federal system. Many companies have instituted across the board pay cuts, suspension of matching 401k contributions, and reduced hours. I doubt if any federal workers have experience such setbacks.
The growth in government and the growing disparity from the private sector is creating a bureaucratic ruling class. It remains to be seen how long it will last when the private sector can no longer afford to support it or when they morally refuse to support it.