Data: Government Wages


The relative wages of top-tier presidential appointees are in decline, frets a Brookings Institution study released in March. In 1969, top government officials earned 5.6 times what the average American family took home. By 2000, the $121,600 to $166,700 annual salary taxpayers pay these public servants had fallen to only 2.6 times what the average family earned.

There's no need to write a check to the undersecretary relief fund. Careful readers of the study will discover that low compensation is hardly a problem for our premier bureaucrats. Typically, the appointees are workers already living in Washington, D.C., and the political job approaches or surpasses the highest paying gig they've ever had. And far from being self-sacrificing detours from lucrative careers, the stints—which usually last about two years—are akin to graduate programs that propel people into even higher-paying posts.