Let’s start in Washington, where USA Today reports that there are “at least 17,828 federal employees whose annualized salaries totaled $180,000 or more in September 2010.” That’s rather distressing news for taxpayers, but these excerpts from the story provide additional reason for us to be upset.
…their ranks soared from the 805 with annualized salaries of $180,000 or more in 2005. Nearly 90% held “excepted service” jobs, meaning they worked at agencies that set their own qualification requirements and aren’t subject to the appointment, pay and classification regulations that apply to other civil service posts. …Light said he was surprised the federal data showed that 598 SEC lawyers ranked second among the largest employee groups with the top annualized salaries. The financial industry regulator, widely criticized for its failure to detect and stop Ponzi scheme architect Bernard Madoff, “hasn’t been doing its job very well, and yet its lawyers come out on top. That’s a shock, don’t you think?” said Light. Given the national concern with fighting crime, he questioned why federal prosecutors didn’t top SEC lawyers in numbers of highest-salaried attorneys.
Keep in mind, by the way, that the article is examining salaries rather than total compensation. And since bureaucrats generally get benefits that are four times higher than their counterparts in the productive sector of the economy, the gap between the bureaucratic elite and the serfs who pay their salaries is even larger than these figures suggest.
But at least the overpaid federal bureaucrats are mostly doctors and lawyers, so there’s at least some argument for high levels of compensation. If you want to read something truly outrageous, let’s travel to Newport Beach, California, where the city’s lifeguards are bleeding taxpayers in an obscene fashion.
…the city’s full-time lifeguard force has finally come under scrutiny. Next week the city council will decide if cuts are needed to the full-time lifeguard force where last year the top earner received $211,000 in pay and benefits, including a $400 sun protection allowance. In 2010 all but one of the city’s full-time lifeguard staff had annual compensation packages worth over $120,000. Not bad pay for a lifeguard – but what makes these jobs most attractive is the generous retirements. These lifeguards can retire at age 50 with full medical benefits for life. One recently retired lifeguard, age 51, receives a government retirement of over $108,000 per year—for the rest of his life.
The examples in this post are especially egregious, but the key thing to keep in mind that compensation levels for bureaucrats (at all levels of government) are far too high. I’ve posted this video before, but I’ll embed it again for folks who want to see some of the key statistics to prove that the government workforce is too large and paid too much.