JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2010/03/if-you-want-more-of-something-subsidize.html (9 comments)

jsid-1267797037-770  Jeff the Baptist at Fri, 05 Mar 2010 13:50:38 +0000

Sorry, but I don't buy it.  My job on the list as overpaid, but if I left today and started working for a contractor tomorrow, I'd get significant salary bump.  My guess is that a lot of these have to do with a years of experience mismatch between the federal and private workforces or other uncontrolled external factors.

jsid-1267810567-933  geekwitha45 at Fri, 05 Mar 2010 17:36:08 +0000

The other fascinating question is around productivity:

What is it, exactly, that government workers *produce*?  OK, the county road crew, I get that.  They create value by making roads.

What about the zillion "Government department of ensuring compliance with some other deparment's formulation of regulations?"

How is the value of that ever even quantified, never mind cost justified?


The other productivity point I'd like to make is around government *contractors*, something in the software world I've seen the inside of.  (I considered the practices to be so shameful I refused participation)

In all honesty, private industry, which expect to extract value for the dollars it spends, would never tolerate, for even a single minute, the sort of ponderous, unproductive nonsense that government contractors get away with. From what I've seen, it looks like they actually *plan* to *fail* to deliver the goods, so as to have a depth of experience in the mess that they have an unnassailable advantage in obtaining the remedial "fix the screwup" contract.

jsid-1267813542-559  Britt at Fri, 05 Mar 2010 18:25:42 +0000 in reply to jsid-1267810567-933

Well duh geek, if it weren't for the benevolent government, we'd be lying about in our own filth, eating rancid meat and treating our illnesses with snake oil while breathing in pure factory smoke. Because no one had pure food or effective drugs or clean air before the government provided those things. My teachers told me so in school. You can't count on a chaotic market to insure that people's desires are met. It's not as if the profit motive provides an incentive for people to meet the needs and wants of other people in a timely and efficent manner.

Without the Bureaur of Diktat and the Bureau of Ensuring that Diktats are Followed, it would be anarchy, pure anarchy I tell you. Dark portents! Blood in the streets! Dogs and cats living together!

jsid-1267823070-67  Unix-Jedi at Fri, 05 Mar 2010 21:04:33 +0000

 My guess is that a lot of these have to do with a years of experience mismatch between the federal and private workforces or other uncontrolled external factors.

Annual COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment).

It adds up over a 20 year period. You might hire people "cheaply", but if you give them a 3-4% raise, every year, regardless of merit, at some point, they'll have caught up with the median and possible exceeded it.  In some cases, by a good portion.

jsid-1267844678-794  Tiderian at Sat, 06 Mar 2010 03:04:39 +0000

Jeff - I'm with you. When I worked for the .gov, I can't even count how many folks I worked with that left because private sector was so much greener. We had guys quit and make nearly double their salary, and I hear that story a lot among people in other agencies.

Now that I'm in private business, I can assure you that slacking and ineptitude aren't exclusive to government work. I work with some grade-A idiots and money-wasters at one of the biggest financial houses in the US, and yet they stay in the top 5 yearly. Where are these perfect market forces that supposedly wring out all inefficiencies in business and fire all the slackers? I can assure you they aren't in effect at this place!   :)

jsid-1267889069-0  6Kings at Sat, 06 Mar 2010 15:24:29 +0000

"When I worked for the .gov, I can't even count how many folks I worked with that left because private sector was so much greener. We had guys quit and make nearly double their salary, and I hear that story a lot among people in other agencies."

And I have seen programmer jobs in private double by going to government.  I almost applied once because even as a manager I wasn't making what the government was offering PLUS I would have received massive benefits.   

Not only that, the government could have hired an outside consultant to do the job for much less if they didn't have so many hurdles to actually work with them.  Have to have x clearance, have to be on the GSA schedule, have to comply with blah blah blah.  Contractors and vendors who climb these high barriers to entry are on the gravy train and charge accordingly.

Government work is the most inefficient segment of society.

jsid-1267940975-569  Linoge at Sun, 07 Mar 2010 05:49:35 +0000

I am afraid I am going to have to stump for the opposition as well...  In my time in the Navy, I had three electricians leave the Service only to be paid between 1.25 and 2 times better out in the civilian sector.  Granted, they are a very narrow subset of the military side of the government, when this article and graph are addressing the government as a whole, but still - you do not want to know the pay differences between civilian linehandlers and Navy Boatswain's Mates... 

jsid-1267949550-320  thebastidge at Sun, 07 Mar 2010 08:12:30 +0000

Linoge- do you count absolutely 100% free medical care (regardless of quality, because people with HMOs bitch about quality of care too) in that comparison as well? Do you count tax-free housing allowances? Tax-free BAS or DFAC meals? How many civilian jobs pay re-location? Some do, but not for an admin personnel, for example. Training? How many civilian jobs take dipshit kids (like myself) off the street, spend 3-18 months of completely unproductive salary and benefits while providing highly specialized training that rival a 2 year college degree in 6 months of time, and only then start extracting productive work out of them? How many jobs give you a promotion and permanent retirement if you become disabled on duty, even if you've only been with the company for less than 2 years and have never performed productive work? I know a couple guys that got promoted from E3 to E5 and retired for medical reasons while still in AF tech school..

I don't personally know what a civilian line handler or a boatswain's mate does- but how many companies will take you from 0-60 in knowledge? I suspect the civ job pays better because they hire only experienced people and thus have a higher margin without the higher training costs. From an individual perspective, however: you gotta get trained somewhere, so I consider a 4-6 year enlistment simply paying your dues rather than paying tuition.

jsid-1268106513-297  Linoge at Tue, 09 Mar 2010 03:48:33 +0000 in reply to jsid-1267949550-320

We actually did take all of the elements into consideration when comparing their respective pay amounts, Bastidge - after all, these were EM1s and EMCs who were separating/retiring from the military, and I would trust that they were capable of performing basic mathematical functions. 

JOs like me... well... you never know. 

As for training and whatnot, we were not exactly talking about that, were we?  We were talking about one pay scale against another payscale, and which was greater, and which was smaller - in my experience, the military payscale for EMs and BMs was smaller (in some cases, significantly smaller) than comparable civilian jobs, even taking into account military benefits.  And, as I mentioned, my experience is with a very narrow subset of a very narrow field of government employees, but that is all I have to base my opinion on. 

And, in case you are operating under the mistaken assumption that I am bad-mouthing the military, I am not.  I am simply following the groundrules as set out by the graph Kevin mentioned, and expressing how my personal experiences differed from the conclusion.  You are, of course, welcome to express your own personal experiences as well. 

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