Funny how our managed depression is being administered by a large group of people whose jobs are not really impacted by this financial meltdown. They have some of the best health insurance coverage on earth, and they get defined benefit retirement (with healthcare coverage!), with cost of living escalators, if they hit any of the following three criteria:
- At least age 55 with 30 years of service or more.
- At least age 60 with 20 years of service or more.
- At least age 62 with 5 years of service or more.
There are adjustments based on when you were born, but the above summary is pretty accurate. Let’s not even talk about the military. Lots of these “well-benefitted” workers live in and around a city, with escalating real estate prices and soaring rents, where job security is never an issue, and layoffs are not remotely in the cards.
The city is Washington, D.C., and most of the “servants” are protected by our federal Civil Service laws. While a vast majority of Americans are making less (assuming they still even have jobs) in this trashed economy, these folks are benefitting from cheaper loans and bargains from national companies and automakers trying to find a way to stay in business. As the economy contracts, as prices for goods and services fall, our civil servants get more buying power, just as our tax dollars are rising, our deficits soaring. Sure, they don’t have upside; they signed on in a different time. And most of them are incredibly value contributors to our national value proposition. I know; I was born and spent my early years in D.C., and my father, step-father and mother were all federal employees.
But seriously, those of us in the private sector who still have jobs are facing salary cuts and rising benefit costs even as our taxes rise. Imagine what would happen if the average federal civil servant were asked to take even a 10% pay cut?! Screams! Yet no one has suggested that their federal benefits be curtailed along with the pain the rest of America is required to endure. I’d love to retire after five years of work, but we know this was created to cover those who are brought to Washington under a political aegis.
Bottom line: how can people who are completely isolated from economic devastation, whose neighborhood and metropolitan area (okay, the subprime buyers in the DC area suffered the same fate as their brethren across the nation – a high default/foreclosure rate), is barely impacted by all this economic pain have the slightest empathy for the rest of the country which, depending on the region and the local industry, is suffering beyond measure? Even most of the “government contractors” in and around the city, as well as most of the local service and retail businesses in the area, are doing pretty well. This was same the story during The Great Depression.
Would we be getting a different result, a more rapid response, a more sympathetic ear and a more responsible solution if Washington were forced to apply the same economic contractions to their federal workforce imposed by the real world on the rest of America? After all, if federal employees get cost of living increases, shouldn’t they get the same reality adjustments in a downturn, one many actually blame in significant part on government employees not doing their jobs, turning a blind eye to obvious abuses?
I’m Peter Dekom, and sooner or later, a lot more Americans are going to be asking their elected representatives the same question.