Skip to comments.Ben Stein: Bureaucrats are Great, so Lay Off
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 ...
As a former state employee, I agree that they’re not all bad. But I certainly saw a bunch!!!
read my tagline
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stein, ha. The faux conservative who contributed $2,300 to Franken’s campaign.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CBS news, yawn. Oh, the poor babies with taxpayer-paid salaries and benefits.
Don't know anyone who confuses a CIA field officer or a fire fighter with a bureaucrat.
Don't you mean:
3% of my "high three" years multiplied by years of service?
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”.
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.
What do you produce, create or make?
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.
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.
And still collect their pension for "doing the least amount of damage".
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.
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!
“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.
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.
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.)
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
We're both right - and wrong. It's actually 1% (not 3%) of your high three years, multiplied by years of service.
“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.
Just because I say Stein’s point of view is idiotic doesn’t mean outstanding Federal employees are uncommon.
“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.
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.
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.
1% seems pretty low.
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!"
Yeah, it does, but that's what the FERS website says:
California: 40 years at age 63 = 100%. (pg 19)
“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!
When you crank in the cops and firemen (public sector workers) that’s going to balloon the sick days taken.