Monday, March 15, 2010

Caveat Lectores on Public vs. Private Sector Wages

Recent media coverage of the “plight” of the tax payer and how the public employees of the country are ravaging the economy with living wages as opposed to private sector employees, whose wages have been reduced lower than dirt, has caused Caveat Lectores to spend some time researching to find out what might be factual.

You see I do not trust Fox News or the other media for that matter when it comes to reporting the facts. I have over 36 years of reading and listening to distorted news that harm employees. Right wing nut republicans, conservative talk show hosts, the news media and tea baggers are stepping into the fray to see what they can do to destroy the future for all employees. Ruining the lives of many employees in private enterprise was not enough for them. Now “let’s lower the standard of living for everyone” seems to be the unspoken mantra. I wonder if there is an agenda for these people to redistribute the wealth of this country further from the middle class. Hmmmmm. Maybe I am just paranoid.

My research made me dizzy with all the treatises available on so many slightly different but intertwined topics having to do with wages. Maybe it was more like nausea. I wanted a study that compared State and Local wages to the Private Sector.

Then… there it was right before me on the computer screen: State and Local Parity: A National Analysis of Public/Private Wage Differentials at the State and Local Levels by Race and Gender. Holy crap!! For once in my research career, I found what I was looking for right on point and in less than two days. Since all employees have race and gender, I felt sure I hit a gold mine, and I did.

Here is some of what I found, quoted not paraphrased:
• Economists generally find that public employees are paid more than comparable private sector employees.
• Research on public/private sector pay differentials at the state level is scarce.
• …Most SLGs pay less than private firms in the same state for similar workers.
• This is especially true for white men and Asians.
• Blacks and Latinos earn more in the public than private sector.
• Public pay premiums for white females are small or non-existent.
• Pay comparability is a long standing principle of public sector compensation. (That Is not what my employer told me in the 70’s and 80’s when we were looking for wage increases)
• … Pay comparability has proved exceedingly elusive to achieve.
• Median salaries for public employees are higher than median salaries in the private sector.
• …Public employees tend to be better educated and have more work experience than private employees.
• Part of the public pay paradox is attributable to the significantly higher pay, relative to white males, received by women and minorities in the public sector.

This paper goes on and on explaining its findings. What I did get from the research is that federal workers do tend to make slightly higher wages than SLG workers and some private sector workers. Women and minorities fare better in similar public sector jobs than in the private sector. This of course adds fuel to the argument that the private sector discriminates more than the public sector. We can address that another day.

What all this means to me is that public sector workers are not causing the downfall of government and the economy with their high wages. However, that has not kept the right wing nuts and tea baggers from demonizing government workers. Yes, times are bad. Yes, tax reform has strangled government as it attempts to provide the services demand by a public that does not wish to pay the bill. Yes, much of the higher paying private sector work has been nearly destroyed by the demise of some unions and sending work overseas that could be done here.

Our insatiable thirst for cheap goods at cheap prices made it impossible for many industries to exist unless they paid third world wages and benefits. When U.S workers balked at third world wages, American businesses showed their loyalty and patriotism by leaving for cheaper pastures. We now use scarce petroleum to ship goods around the world that could be made here or there. Remember, if a worker does not make a living wage, the worker cannot buy even cheap foreign made goods.

Think of all the golden parachutes that were paid to executives after they ran their companies in the ground. Think of all the bonuses that were paid to the investment banking and mortgage banking industry while they ran the economy into the ground. Yeah, I know that is a simplistic approach but so is the mind of a wing nut or tea bagger.

We now have a significant cadre of ignorant and term limited legislators who have no idea of why things were done the way they were in the past nor any care to provide real leadership. These people actually run for government office on the promise they will dismantle government. They just pander to whoever wants to provide a new way to starve the beast into extinction.

I can abide real republicans who just do not give a damn about working people because they are who they are and will never change. I can even abide the way out fringe elements on either side because they fill an important function to give us all some comedic relief.

What I cannot abide is the dumbass public sector worker who will support a politician who is devoted to his/her demise. The real R’s have been brilliant, far more brilliant than the D’s, in dividing and subdividing the population to fits their needs. The same people devoted to wealth at the expense of others have co-opted the lower middle class into voting with them because of all kinds of issues that do not matter to real R’s.

What is left of the middle class has not totally fallen under the spell of the masters of deception to rally around threats to their guns, god, girls, private healthcare plans and whatever else they can make the middle class fearful of losing, but the tea baggers are working on it. The real R’s are worried this radicalization will eventually take hold and they might lose control. The evangelical preachers could be reasoned with but others maybe not.

Enough is enough. I must stop this Rant before my ranting causes me to have a stroke. You get the idea. The question is: what are you going to do about it?

And Oh yes, have a nice Day?


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