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Ben Stein: Bureaucrats are Great, so Lay Off
CBS ^ | March 28, 2010 | Ben Stein

Posted on 03/29/2010 9:55:51 AM PDT by Poundstone

There is a basic assumption among many of us conservatives that bothers me. Basically, the assumption is that if a person is a government employee, then he or she is lazy and shiftless, a parasite just eating up tax dollars without doing anything.

"Bureaucrats" is what the sneering expression usually is.

To put it mildly, this is unfair and not even in the ballpark of what's true.

(Excerpt) Read more at cbsnews.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: employees; government
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As a federal employee, I say "Right on, Ben Stein!"
1 posted on 03/29/2010 9:55:51 AM PDT by Poundstone
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To: Poundstone

As a former state employee, I agree that they’re not all bad. But I certainly saw a bunch!!!


2 posted on 03/29/2010 9:57:47 AM PDT by Twotone (Marte Et Clypeo)
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To: Poundstone

read my tagline


3 posted on 03/29/2010 9:59:24 AM PDT by Jagman (End income inequality: cut gov worker pay!)
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To: Poundstone

Well, he is right about federal employes in general. The problem is that there are too many of them. Virtually every office is stuffed with too many employees.


4 posted on 03/29/2010 9:59:50 AM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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To: Poundstone
the assumption is that if a person is a government employee, then he or she is lazy and shiftless

The issue is not so much government employees, as it is unionized government employees, or in fact unionized employees of any sort. Unions take away the incentive to work because they make it impossible to fire unproductive employees.

5 posted on 03/29/2010 10:00:07 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Mitt Romney: He's from Harvard, and he's here to help.)
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To: Twotone

The minute they started pulling down 150k salaries and retiring at 55 with 100% pensions, they became parasites.
They are driving the rest of us broke with their power to tax and spend.


6 posted on 03/29/2010 10:00:36 AM PDT by Oldexpat
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To: Poundstone

If Ben is saying that government employees have the same output as private enterprises, he is nuts. It is not about the people, it is about the system and the systematic incentives to perform at optimum levels of efficiency. Government simply does not have the capability to operate as efficiently over time as a private organization built on profit generation.


7 posted on 03/29/2010 10:01:44 AM PDT by ilgipper
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To: Poundstone

I’ve worked for the Federal government most of my adult life - first as an Army officer, then as a Federal law enforcement officer, and now in the civil service.

I also worked in the private sector for a few years, so I’ve got experience in both sides.

There’s just as many lazy people in the private sector as in the government.

The difference is private sector workers get fired from one job and then simply move to another private sector job. They never leave the private sector or start their own businesses. It’s harder (but certainly not impossible) to fire a lazy government worker. Typically, they just get transferred to where they can do the least amount of damage.


8 posted on 03/29/2010 10:02:06 AM PDT by Terabitten ("Don't retreat. RELOAD!!" -Sarah Palin)
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To: Poundstone
As a fed I agree to a great extent though sadly there are those who feed the stereotype as well...
9 posted on 03/29/2010 10:02:07 AM PDT by ejonesie22 (Palin bashers on freerepublic, like a fart in Church...)
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To: Jagman

Stein, ha. The faux conservative who contributed $2,300 to Franken’s campaign.


10 posted on 03/29/2010 10:02:09 AM PDT by TheLawyerFormerlyKnownAsAl
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To: Poundstone

Oh, since you’re a fed, you look the other way, huh?

It must be terribly hard on you, what with the media and the party in control CONSTANTLY demonizing you? And the lifelong beneifits have got to be a grind too.

And learn to excerpt, liberal.


11 posted on 03/29/2010 10:02:23 AM PDT by subterfuge (BUILD MORE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS NOW!!!)
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To: Poundstone
As a taxpayer who has dealt with too many government employees enforcing stupid rules I say "BS".

No doubt there a some good people working in the government but I find government all too often the preferred employer of activist liberal socialist control freaks who delight in saying "I'm only doing my job " as they hassle hard-working American citizens while ignoring the illegals and real terrorists who will fight back.

12 posted on 03/29/2010 10:02:41 AM PDT by hoosierham (Waddaya mean Freedom isn't free ?;will you take a credit card?)
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To: Poundstone

From personal experience, I can tell you nobody wastes money and talent as well as government does.

There are good people in government. Most of them can’t do good work for one reason or another. Bureaucracy rules are usually it, or funding to their particular area only covers people, not equipment.

But government has become its own stumbling block. It’s just a leviathan and it needs to be pared down. Processes and procedures are not optimized and people wind up being very inefficient and doing “work” for the sake of doing work. Can’t do real work, have too much busywork to do.

And people get conditioned to think this is just how things are in government, and they get used to it as how ‘normal’ government operates.


13 posted on 03/29/2010 10:02:45 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: Oldexpat
The minute they started pulling down 150k salaries and retiring at 55 with 100% pensions, they became parasites.

I'm a government employee, could you please point me to where I might find one of those pensions?

I can retire at 62 just like anyone else, and my "pension" consists of a 401(k) and 3% of my "high three" years.

14 posted on 03/29/2010 10:03:48 AM PDT by Terabitten ("Don't retreat. RELOAD!!" -Sarah Palin)
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To: Poundstone

Curious statement.

I would never consider a FIREMAN a “Bureaucrat”

I would never consider a POLICEMAN a “Bureaucrat”

I would never consider a PROSECUTOR or PRISON GUARD a “Bureaucrat”

I would never consider a DOCTOR or a NURSE at a VA hospital a “Bureaucrat”

Keep trying Ben.

And learn to not get confused on your words in the future.


15 posted on 03/29/2010 10:03:53 AM PDT by Pikachu_Dad
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To: Poundstone

CBS news, yawn. Oh, the poor babies with taxpayer-paid salaries and benefits.


16 posted on 03/29/2010 10:04:03 AM PDT by darkangel82 (I don't have a superiority complex, I'm just better than you.)
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To: Poundstone
Apparently Ben has never had to deal with the fine folks at the GSA on a regular basis.

Don't know anyone who confuses a CIA field officer or a fire fighter with a bureaucrat.

17 posted on 03/29/2010 10:06:08 AM PDT by conservonator (Former government employee - USMC)
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To: Terabitten
and 3% of my "high three" years.

Don't you mean:

3% of my "high three" years multiplied by years of service?

18 posted on 03/29/2010 10:06:34 AM PDT by ColdWater ("The theory of evolution really has no bearing on what I'm trying to accomplish with FR anyway. ")
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To: Terabitten

I believe the reference is being made to CA state employees. Many county and local govt’s as well. CA is going broke because of these retirement “plans”.


19 posted on 03/29/2010 10:08:02 AM PDT by SZonian (We began as a REPUBLIC, a nation of laws. We became a DEMOCRACY, majority rules. Next step is?)
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To: Oldexpat
Sure woulda' liked one of those 100% pensions ~ but they don't offer them in the federal government. Most you could get was 80% of high 3, and usually that means 75% Max, and usually less.

I do believe you are confounding the term "full pension" with "100%".

A "full pension" is the one the law provides for the number of years worked, the basis upon which the payment is computed, and other factors such as separate contributions (something available to federal employees ~ just pay in more and you get out something doggone close to T-bill interest rates ~ this, btw, used to be the federal pension system. Wasn't until Roosevelt that the federal government even had something like a recognizable retirement system for its workers.)

State and local government pensions have no relationship whatsoever with the federal government system.

20 posted on 03/29/2010 10:08:31 AM PDT by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: Poundstone

What do you produce, create or make?


21 posted on 03/29/2010 10:09:50 AM PDT by listenhillary (Capitalism = billions raised from poverty, Socialism = billions reduced to starvation)
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To: Terabitten

Damn straight!

Private sector jobs (with the exception of large corporations with unions) tend to weed out the losers and governmental organizations either ignore the losers or shove them off on some other department.


22 posted on 03/29/2010 10:10:24 AM PDT by Mr. Jazzy ("I AM JIM THOMPSON and moderates make me PUKE!!!")
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To: Poundstone

Someone slip Stein some Kool-aid?

As an ex-federal employee I can sort of agree with Stein, but regardless there are at least 100% more govt employees than the workloading can justify. This means lots of spare time and untasked workers. However if you are talking about rank-and-file employees his comments are acceptable. But he doesn’t address the critical problem with govt “managers”. Govt agencies have become so corrupted that one can say with little doubt that the managerial types are to a man stupid and incompetent with the highest grades, the SESes, being the most corrupt and incompetent of the bunch. Replace govt managers with cardboard cutouts and the situation would automatically improve as the workers wouldn’t be interfered with by morons constantly.

Another issue is internal offices like “quality control” or “program management” or “configurartion management” which are just pointless do nothing areas that serve absolutely no purpose except to provide good paying jobs for people who couldn’t serve french fries.


23 posted on 03/29/2010 10:11:00 AM PDT by Seruzawa (If you agree with the French raise your hand - If you are French raise both hands.)
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To: Terabitten
Typically, they just get transferred to where they can do the least amount of damage.

And still collect their pension for "doing the least amount of damage".

24 posted on 03/29/2010 10:11:25 AM PDT by listenhillary (Capitalism = billions raised from poverty, Socialism = billions reduced to starvation)
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To: Poundstone

While I agree he’s right to not paint all Fed employees with the same brush, there is without a doubt validity to the statement that the government is bloated.

Too many people doing absolutely nothing.


25 posted on 03/29/2010 10:13:19 AM PDT by woweeitsme
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To: Oldexpat
“The minute they started pulling down 150k salaries and retiring at 55 with 100% pensions, they became parasites.”

Can you tell me what government jobs are getting that kind of pay? (100% pensions????)

The only ones I can think of are the ELECTED officials and their direct appointees!

26 posted on 03/29/2010 10:13:35 AM PDT by ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY (It's the spending, Stupid!)
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To: muawiyah

“State and local government pensions have no relationship whatsoever with the federal government system. “

They do have one thing in common. They won’t be paid in the manner that you expect, as they are not affordable to the productive taxpayer.


27 posted on 03/29/2010 10:14:26 AM PDT by RFEngineer
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To: Poundstone; All

Uh, right.

The fact is, the size of the bureaucracy is ridiculous. The monster needs to be shrunk.

I have a dear relative who used to be a bureaucrat. She was, like you I am sure, one who wisely used the taxpayer’s dollars.

But she agrees: the waste and fraud were rampant.

We can’t say EVERY SINGLE fed employee is a leech. But too many are—and enough that we need to cut back on their numbers.


28 posted on 03/29/2010 10:17:06 AM PDT by Recovering_Democrat
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To: RobbyS

As Margaret Thatcher asked when she assumed the Prime Ministership, “What is that we are doing with 566,000 that we can’t do with 500,000?”

(And even she couldn’t get rid of the NHS.)


29 posted on 03/29/2010 10:17:57 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Oldexpat

“The minute they started pulling down 150k salaries and retiring at 55 with 100% pensions, they became parasites.
They are driving the rest of us broke with their power to tax and spend.”

This. End of thread.


30 posted on 03/29/2010 10:18:46 AM PDT by Anti-Kenyan
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To: Pikachu_Dad

“And learn to not get confused on your words in the future”

Mr Stein was referring to some examples of government workers, who are maligned by the term “bureaucrat.”


31 posted on 03/29/2010 10:18:55 AM PDT by ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY (It's the spending, Stupid!)
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To: RFEngineer
Alas, the federal pensions are essentially "paid for" by the employees as a group. The law actually requires agencies to "budget" and then "transfer" funds in a requisite amount to OPM for investment what amount to t-bills to cover later retirees.

The state and local systems are mostly promises.

It's not just that the federales can print money to cover the problem, it is also the case that they pay up front.

It's Congress, not the employees in the federal government, who spend your tax dollars like drunken sailers.

If the federal government as a whole were required to be as conscientious with all of its financial responsibilities as OPM is required to be with employee retirement funds the US government would be running surpluses.

32 posted on 03/29/2010 10:19:07 AM PDT by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: Poundstone
I worked as a civilian federal employee with the DOD back about 10 years as a contract auditor. I can honestly say there are some very dedicated employees that actually earn their pay and even take work home in the evening. However, there are also quite a few people that are there just to do the minimum work they can get by with, and collect a paycheck. These were joking referred to at “gaters” as in, “They serve their eight and hit the gate.” The difference between government and the private sector is that the “gaters” would quickly be show the door in the private sector. However, it is dang near impossible to get rid of a government employee once they complete their probationary period. So if an employee manages to keep their nose clean for a year, they are pretty much guaranteed a lift time job with the federal government.
33 posted on 03/29/2010 10:19:27 AM PDT by apillar
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To: Seruzawa

“there are at least 100% more govt employees than the workloading can justify.”

Exactly. Regardless of whether bureaucrats are “lazy and shiftless” the key is that they don’t face the performance incentives more common in the private sector. The same is true of those working for non-profit organizations. There’s ample empirical studies that compare performance of for-profit companies to their government counterparts and the former generally are more efficient—i.e., can deliver the same service at a lower cost (even after accounting for the profits made and taxes paid!). That’s because incentives matter. If they didn’t there wouldn’t be dime’s worth of difference between government agencies and for-profit firms.


34 posted on 03/29/2010 10:25:05 AM PDT by DrC
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To: Poundstone

I could not find any recent comparable numbers for the US but these seem to tell a tale:

“Staff working in the private sector took an average of 6.4 days off last year, down from 7.2 days the previous year, while absence rates among public workers only fell marginally, from 9.8 to 9.7 days.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5863545/Private-sector-workers-taking-fewer-sick-days.html

And there was another blow for public sector workers when it was revealed the average civil servant takes 11 sick days a year — almost double the rate of absence in the private sector.

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/sick-leave-in-public-service-is-twice-the-rate-of-private-sector-1922474.html


35 posted on 03/29/2010 10:29:27 AM PDT by bjc (Check the data!!)
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To: The_Reader_David

The NHS was installed after the British people had been regimented for war for more than six years. Hard to realize how hard life was for them in 1946-47. Indeed, they were suffering more than the German people who had just “lost” the war, except that they still had their “own”government. Even Thatcher could not break their dependency on the State, and she was in the end rejected even by her own party.


36 posted on 03/29/2010 10:33:58 AM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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To: Poundstone

The ones that I used to supervise were mostly lazy and stuck in molasses. Deadlines were constantly being shifted downstream. One or two diligent ones picked up the slack to make the place barely function.


37 posted on 03/29/2010 10:34:57 AM PDT by qwertypie
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To: DrC

It is also the case in public education, where, BTW, there is is one non-teaching supervisor for every ten classroom teacher. That is as high a ration as the number of officers to enlisted in the military, even though all teachers are college graduates.


38 posted on 03/29/2010 10:37:07 AM PDT by RobbyS (Pray with the suffering souls.)
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To: ColdWater
3% of my "high three" years multiplied by years of service?

We're both right - and wrong. It's actually 1% (not 3%) of your high three years, multiplied by years of service.

39 posted on 03/29/2010 10:37:58 AM PDT by Terabitten ("Don't retreat. RELOAD!!" -Sarah Palin)
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To: Thane_Banquo

“The issue is not so much government employees, as it is unionized government employees, or in fact unionized employees of any sort. Unions take away the incentive to work because they make it impossible to fire unproductive employees. “

Partly. But my beef is with bureaucracies more than bureaucrats. No matter who staffs them, there is a relentless urge to expand turf and increase size. They are constantly looking for more things to do. As their mandate is usually to “help” me with more “useful” regulations and other interferences in my life, the relentless expansion of their turf both increases my taxes to pay for all the new helpful people they have to employ and the time I have to spend dealing with all their “useful” interference.

That’s why it doesn’t matter if the bureaucrats are “good” or “bad.” A bureaucracy has a dynamic all its own that is pernicious regardless who staffs it.

And that’s why cutting an agency’s budget does nothing. It just expands later. One has to eliminate the agency altogether so there is noone cheering to make it bigger and do more things to “help” ModelBreaker every year.


40 posted on 03/29/2010 10:40:37 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: Poundstone

Just because I say Stein’s point of view is idiotic doesn’t mean outstanding Federal employees are uncommon.


41 posted on 03/29/2010 10:45:24 AM PDT by Gene Eric (Your Hope has been redistributed. Here's your Change.)
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To: muawiyah

“The law actually requires agencies to “budget” and then “transfer” funds in a requisite amount to OPM for investment what amount to t-bills to cover later retirees.”

Sounds like you’ve got your very own Al Gore style “Lock box”....

It gives me no joy to observe that most government benefits are not going to be paid out as expected - it likely includes military retirement benefits, and Social Security, and others.....

I’m just saying that regardless of how little or how much you do as a government employee - you’re going to get equally hosed like everyone else expecting a government benefit over the long-term.

In that way you are just like state and municipal employees, who are very likely to be in the same situation as you.


42 posted on 03/29/2010 10:46:26 AM PDT by RFEngineer
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To: woweeitsme

Doing nothing or nothing productive. Most government employees (excluding the military) are engaged in activities that are unconstitutional. Even if they were efficient - and they are not and I don’t want them to be - they should be fired.


43 posted on 03/29/2010 10:56:04 AM PDT by achilles2000 (Shouting "fire" in a burning building is doing everyone a favor...whether they like it or not)
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To: Poundstone

IF they weren’t protected by unions and were more accountable for performance there would be a lot fewer inept, incompetent bureaucrats.

Meanwhile- there are plenty of outstanding federal, state and county employees- otherwise it would all be much, much worse.


44 posted on 03/29/2010 11:01:17 AM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat veteran)
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To: Terabitten

1% seems pretty low.


45 posted on 03/29/2010 11:05:16 AM PDT by ColdWater ("The theory of evolution really has no bearing on what I'm trying to accomplish with FR anyway. ")
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To: Poundstone
So, why is it every time I see a government employee driving down the road just before quitting time that they're traveling at 15 mph?

I once worked with a bunch of government folks who had a little saying that they thought was rather comical ... "Don't just do something, stand there!"

46 posted on 03/29/2010 11:19:21 AM PDT by The Duke
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To: ColdWater
1% seems pretty low.

Yeah, it does, but that's what the FERS website says:

Understanding Your FERS Retirement

47 posted on 03/29/2010 11:23:50 AM PDT by Terabitten ("Don't retreat. RELOAD!!" -Sarah Palin)
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To: Terabitten

California: 40 years at age 63 = 100%. (pg 19)

http://www.calstatela.edu/univ/hrm/docs/CalPERS_55.pdf


48 posted on 03/29/2010 11:36:38 AM PDT by ColdWater ("The theory of evolution really has no bearing on what I'm trying to accomplish with FR anyway. ")
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To: muawiyah

“the federal pensions are essentially “paid for” by the employees as a group. The law actually requires agencies to “budget” and then “transfer” funds in a requisite amount to OPM for investment what amount to t-bills to cover later retirees. The state and local systems are mostly promises.”

Thanks, muawiyah. Great information!


49 posted on 03/29/2010 11:41:30 AM PDT by Poundstone
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To: bjc

When you crank in the cops and firemen (public sector workers) that’s going to balloon the sick days taken.


50 posted on 03/29/2010 12:10:04 PM PDT by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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