If Only Everyone Was Above Average, We Wouldn't Have This Problem


We wouldn't need to take all your money if only you made more of it

Blogging over at the Federal Times, "The one-stop news and information service for Federal Managers," Gregg Carlstrom casts skepticism on Reason's current cover story about the "Class War" between the public and private sector, then asks this:

Even if we concede that public sector wages are now significantly higher than private sector wages, we should ask: Is that because government employees are overpaid, or private sector employees are underpaid?

That's certainly one way of looking at it.

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    1. Wow. They really are that stupid.

      The only answer is to drink…or start butchering them en masse.

  1. That’s certainly one way of looking at it.

    Right. Wages are not a function of worker productivity, despite over a hundred years of data showing that correlation. They’re chosen by mean, monocled, mustachioed (and probably libertarian) businessman to screw the hardworking proletariat out of what is rightfully theirs. The ‘public sector’ is merely trying to right this woeful imbalance through higher wages, which are not taken from those private sector workers, but appear through the magic of unicorns and rainbows.

    1. It isn’t magic. It’s the Union of Affiliated Rainbow Harnassers and Unicorn Handlers International. I think Mike Rowe talked about them once.

      1. Yes, I did, because working for the government is certainly a Dirty Job.

    2. It’s a tiresome trope this “the public sector is a parasite on the private sector.” Both sectors rely on each other fundamentally. What would the private sector look like without the public sector’s police, roads, contract enforcement, etc? Somalia beckons…

      1. Given a lack of public roads, and that necessity is the mother of invention, Libertopia would have flying cars.

        Eisenhower killed the future.

        1. Why stop at flying cars? Since mother is the necessity of invention and we can always count on human ingenuity, with the proper incentives, to fix any problem, we surely would all have developed super powers and could fly ourselves…

          1. Yes. Everything the government does is as necessary as roads and police and firefighters. also, no private entity could ever build or maintain roads or fight fires.

            C’mon MNG, this grade D- level trolling. You’re smarter than this.

            1. Ah, but I guess you do agree that those functions are fundamental to the private sector!

              1. Ah, but I guess you do need to read BP’s comment again, MSG!

                1. MNG is always the first to shout “hyperbole!” He’s also always the first to invoke Somalia.
                  What’s up with that?

                  1. MNG is trying to start a war with Somalia?!?

                  2. Er, that’s not coincidence…it’s called throwing it back at ya. My Somalia talk is pretty recent, it’s a reaction to all this crazy invocation of the USSR/N.Korea/Cuba, “TEH SLAVERY” and “TOTALITARIAN” hyperbole…

                    1. @MNG

                      Moron Not Great?

                    2. The problem in Somalia is that there’s a lack of consensus on which guy on the street with the gun shaking me down for fifty bucks is actually the “cop” and not the “criminal.”

                      Until everyone can agree on one gunman, fratricide will ensue and no one will make long-term plans or investments (such as a road or fire department), no matter the social mechanism to make such plans and investments.

                      At a certain point – whether its the cops or the mob – its all just protection money, either way. Look at the drug war in a ghetto for some insights on how that works (without having to go to Somalia).

                  3. @Citizen Nothing

                    Troll playbook, page 86.

          2. You’d better have some coffee. The private sector can’t possibly build roads on its own? Are you really contending that?

            1. You call those “roads”?

              1. There is a thirty-percent property tax on avenues. Only the public sector can make ‘roads’.

            2. I don’t think a purely private system of roads would be workable, no. Private firms do “build” them as funded and directed by the government…

              1. “Private firms do “build” them as funded and directed by the government…”

                How awwwwwwwwwful! You must be some kind of Republican privatizer!

                1. Come on now, let’s be fair. Union goons like public-private partnerships too.

      2. rely on each other

        Your argument, typically, is that there must be either near Socialism or complete Anarchy. The idiot Post Office being a perfect example. Thank Science no one ever thought of a need for a National buggy whip maker.

        Government is supposed to be subservient to the people, not a parasite of them. Your willful failure to appreciate this very basic fact never ceases to amaze.

        1. Post offices are so basic that our Founders explicitly authorized them in our Constitution.

          And its not that I “fail to realize” that government should not be a parasite on the private sector. I think both are parastical on each other, neither could exist without the other.

          1. OK, I could see your point about how the privsec could be a “parasite” on the pubesec (I like that, btw). But certainly not in equal magnitude. And further, in the privsec wage changes are pushed from the top, and in the pubesec they are pulled from the bottom. I work in private industry and I don’t just get to vote myself a pay raise, MSG. That’s the difference.

            1. You don’t get to vote yourself a pay raise in the pubsec either. That decision is made by representatives elected by the people, of which public sector workers are a minority and only one of many interest groups seeking goodies.

              1. Its also the reason politicians have figured out a giant Enron scheme of finance to pay the public sector exorbitantly without actually taxing the private sector at the levels needed to maintain such largess.

                You see the endgame of that scheme in places like California which no longer has the financial health to attract the debt financing needed to continue the game. Politician is now forced to piss someone off, and they are in crisis figuring out who that is going to be (i.e., who has less voters).

                Indeed, CALPERs itself isn’t keen on buying California debt in times of need, even though California is the ultimate employer of all workers and retirees in the fund.

          2. They didnt, however, guarantee the USPS a monopoly. That came later, once real competition existed.

            1. Real competition predicated on the public sectors protection (police) and fostering (building the roads, canals, etc., used).

              1. USPS benefits from those too. So, yes, real competition in mail delivery.

                However, at the time, many of the major intercity roads and canals WERE private, so you are shooting yourself down. I also dont think the American Letter Mail Company was using many canals, but I could be wrong.

                By 1844, the spiraling postal rtes had so irked Spooner that he began an extensive study of the situation. There was no question that rates were much too high. It cost 18 3/4 cents to send a letter from Boston to New York and 25 cents to send on all the way to Washington DC A letter sent from Boston to Albany, NY written on a 1/4-ounce sheet of paper and carried by the Western Railroad, cost 2/3 as much as the freight charge for carrying a barrel of flour the same distance. Spooner’s summation of his study was succinct: high cost and no service.

                The company offered to deliver letters, with no limit on weight at reduced rates. He even ran an ad on the front page of the “New York Daily Tribune” with the following information: “AMERICAN POST OFFICE – The American Letter Mail Company has established post offices in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston, and will deliver letter daily from each city to the others – twice a day between New York and Philadelphia. Postage 6 1/4 cents per each half-ounce, payable in advance always. Stamps 20 for a dollar. Their purpose it to carry letters by the most rapid conveyances, and at the cheapest rates and to extend their operations (as fast as patronage will justify) over the principal routes of the country, so as to give the public the most extensive facilities for correspondence that can be afforded at a uniform rate.

              2. …Provided with taxation funds provided by the private sector and individuals.

                Do you lack any concept of ‘public property?’ You know, its owned by everyone and is not an excludable asset of the government water buffalo.

          3. The word you are looking for is “symbiosis”.

            1. Radically asymmetrical symbiosis. The private sector needs only a few things from the government, but the government takes too much for what is give and imposes things the private sector doesn’t want.

              A deer tick gets food and transportation from you and gives you the gift of Lyme’s Disease in return. See? Totally fair.

              1. Both need each other for their very survival. Without government force to provide for protection of property rights, contract enforcement, etc., private sectors would not exist in any meaningful sense.

                1. Other than the 2 anarchists floating around here, has anyone argued otherwise?

                  Stop burning that straw.

                  As SF points out, asymmetrical symbiosis.

          4. But the PO only got it’s 1st class monopoly in the 1860’s, driving private mail services out of business.

          5. The Founders created the post office because they needed a guaranteed system of communication between the far-flung bits of the new country and in a non-electronic world. Its also why there is a franking privilege for Congressman.

      3. “public sector’s police, roads, contract enforcement, etc?”

        Congratulations. You’re catching on. That’s what the govt is supposed to be doing.

        There something between Obamatopia and anarchy.

      4. Roads, Somalia…


        1. Has Somalia been added to the drinking game? Because it should.

          1. Well, I’ll add any socialist totalitarianism to the House Liberals drinking game. Whenever some libertarian throws out “with the government passing X the USSR/Cuba/N. Korea is nigh!” me and the rest of the House liberals will take a shot…

            1. House Liberals drinking game.

              How lonely. And the idea of you and Choad sitting around slamming shots is enough to make my want to rub lye in my eyes.

              1. Especially when you consider what’s Choney’s doing to the glasses when MNG’s out of the room.

              2. Er, there’s quite a bit more liberals than libertarians in this here world bub…

                1. That’s why everything’s fucked up all the time on a global basis.

            2. @MNG

              How does the House Liberals drinking game work? Bunch of liberals sitting around waiting for someone to buy them drinks and then complaining about a short pour?

          2. What’s funny is that Somalia is better off now than it was under its former government. If you read the wikipedia article, there’s plenty of evidence of this. Sure, it’s not all popsicles and blowjobs, but it’s gone from the bottom to above the middle in many aspects.

            Also, check this out:


        2. That was my call up at #1. I suggest grog . . . in honor of the Somali pirates.

      5. Oh come on, MNG, you know better. Yes, there are some legitimate functions of government. That does not in any way defeat the argument that as things are now, the public sector is something of a parasite on the private sector. You may not agree completely, but there is something between Somalia and what we are dealing with now.

        1. “Something of a parasite”? WHOLLY a parasite. Just to be clear 🙂

        2. “Something of a parasite”? WHOLLY a parasite. Just to be clear 🙂

        3. “Something of a parasite”? WHOLLY a parasite. Just to be clear 🙂

          1. The squirrels have gone Borg.

      6. STFU government cock-sucking troll.

        Do you put signs out saying ‘line up here to get your cock sucked, government employees. You all do such a wonderful job my lips just must service you.’?

        1. Rah rah Mr. Gill…

          1. Dude, when I tell you that you are a cock-sucking piece of shit who should go fuck yourself, I put my name on it.

            Not that I mind taking credit for the other, apt comment.

      7. Of course, there are no privately constructed roads, are there?

    3. Baked Penguin @ 8:02 —


  2. Clearly we should mandate private salaries being 125% of public sector salaries. Problem solved.

  3. It’s awfully nice of the Federal Times to provide employment for people as catastrophically retarded as Carlstrom.

    1. It’s awfully nice of the Federal Times to provide employment for people as catastrophically retarded…

      I used to work for a city government, and I’d say a good half of the people who worked there had personality disorders/were borderline retarded. It was like the public schools had a pipeline of their special ed students flowing straight into city government.

      Not to mention the tremendous fat asses who would hijack the microwave for ten minutes at a time heating up their 2 lean cuisines for lunch.

      Most public sector employees should get minimum wage and no more.

      1. I realize fatness should not be a determinate of wage scale, but I see it more as a metaphor for their stupefying laziness.

        1. You ever read the Onion? Awesome old story in the archives about President Clinton passing the “Americans with no Abilities Act.” Excellent segway with what you’re saying here, right down to a fat chick beaming at Bubba as he signs something. Search for it, its worth it.

  4. over/underpaid = “In a world where I decided everyone’s salary…”

    God, the arrogance in even thinking like that just blows my mind

    1. It’s practically blasphemy, questioning current market results!

      1. No, it is arrogant idiocy. How could any person or even group of people know how much “everyone’s salary” should be? If they are all chosen by vote they get magic powers? And I assume you collectivize them also? All plumbers deserve X even though Joe produces twice or half as much?

        1. Gilly, if you don’t like equal outcomes maybe you should move to Somalia! Which totally isn’t a tiresome trope!

        2. What a false dilemma. You need not posit some cosmic rate that workers “deserve” to think there are things that you could change that would positively alter their ability to bargain for better than they are getting now.

          1. I cant think of anything that would allow better bargaining that isnt anti-freedom.

            I mean, minimum wage laws allow for “better bargaining” for teens working at McDs. That doesnt make it a good idea. Freer bargaining, not better bargaining, is the goal.

            1. Only in your mad anti-human universe. I realize you’d find an island of starving people with no minimum wage preferable to one with a minimum wage and little starvation, but that’s because of your inhumane moral moral philosophy where man serves the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath serving man…

              1. Fuck off Slaver!

              2. An island of starving people will be fed by charity. Which isnt a government role. Notice the large sums of PRIVATE money going to Haiti.

  5. “Private workers are just underpaid because they haven’t been getting raises while public workers have been getting nice ones.”

    Does that ‘solve’ the problem or merely restate it?

  6. You have to wonder if he even considered that if the companies employing the underpaid didn’t had to pay for the overpaid they would probably be able to pay the underpaid more.

  7. But the idea of any worker being underpaid is unpossible for libertarians because what people should be paid is what they can get.

    1. This is true in the private sector. In the public sector, where there arent market forces affecting wages, not so much. Its the whole reason central planning doesnt work, no price mechanism.

      1. Right and since few public sector employees produce anything of value, it’s hard to determine what their work is really worth any ways.

        1. Thats not true. Its very easy. The value is precisely jack shit.

      2. Not so, their labor is worth whatever it takes to pull them out of the private sector. For lazy, borderline retarded headcases that the private sector wouldn’t employ in the first place, this is roughly zero, but that doesn’t apply to all government workers.

  8. If they could be paid more they would be because they are rational self–interested actors with as much information as they value and they would simply move to where they could get more because labor like all resources gets properly allocated to where it is most efficiently used blah blah blah.

    1. Oh, Sage, tell me the magic formula that determines how much a worker “should” get paid.

      1. WUT

        That wasn’t me.

  9. Like any bargain, the price for labor is a function of many things. Some of them, like need, information, etc., can be altered to help workers strike better bargains.

    1. Altered by whom? By how much? Why that that amount and not more?

  10. “The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people” (KM)

    That was just too easy…

  11. MNG – your statement at 8:48 is true – however, it also implies that as you get a larger and larger group, anomalies will even out.

    And it’s not what Carlstrom said. The idea that private workers in general are being underpaid because public workers are making more than them is ludicrous.

    1. Well, first of all, it’s goofy to compare the “average private sector worker” to the “average public sector worker.” Apples and organges, you know…

      But even were to compare apples to apples, if we found the public sector worker to have higher wages, it could have to do with any of the factors I mention being different. Even apart from unions governments as employers have certain restrictions on them that may allow employees to bargain better.

      1. No, the difference is that one of the bargainers has no price mechanism to encourage wage pushback.

        1. Danny Glover did an episode of Captain Planet.

          1. Wrong &*#@^)& thread.

          2. Wow…I had no idea Whoopi Goldberg and Levar Burton were in Captain Planet either.

  12. You’re out of your element, MNG.

    1. I am the walrus?

    2. Sometimes during my lunch break I check these boards for interesting commentary. Lately MNG seems to have his shit-stamp all over the place. How does he find the time.. public sector, or union employee??

  13. Brilliant. That’s why we need a $100.00/hr minimum wage. Then, we can set up all sorts of efficient GSE’s: Fannie Appliances, Freddie Cellular, Fannie Clinics, Freddie Pre-approved Auto, etc. This way we can control prices; what better mechanism is there than government to increase our standard of living.This can easily be implemented from Washington. Just look at Medicare, Medicaid, digital converter boxes, and cash-for-clunkers.

    The idea that 300 plus million people in this country can self-regulate without explicit guidance from Congress and a President is foolish. We need more governement, more laws, a larger tax code, and as much regulation as possible. This way we can all prosper.


  14. A minimum wage of $100 a hour will fix everything.

    1. All we need is an executive order. Boom – problem solved. Or, we could just print a bunch of money and mail it out to compensate for low wages. Hank 2012.

      1. Wiemar Republic… here we come!

    2. You obviously are a soulless devil.

      It should be $10,000 an hour for everyone. Then Obama-tard can pay everyone in Zimbabaland dollars.

  15. Not to be outdone by Pat Robertson, leftist actor jumps in today with more offensive idiocy about Haiti.…..with_gaia/

    1. Holy fucking shit that it stupid. I mean, wow!

      But, on the other hand, a fan of global warming said it so it must be an observation made with only the most rigorous scientific principles behind it. They aren’t stinky poo-poo heads like skeptics who don’t accept everything a guy in a white lab coat tells them.

      1. When Danny Glover says it, it’s true, because it’s been peer reviewed, by Ed Begley Jr and other properly-credentialed Hollywood actors. Peer reviewed, that’s the key here.

    2. And you know, Pat Robertson and Danny Glover’s role and positions in the right and left are so similar that this is very comparable!

      1. True, since Glover, as an “activist” has far more of a role, it really isnt comparable.

        1. Danny Glover has far more of a role in the left than Pat Robertson in the right? Yeah robc, for example the governor of Virginia went to college at Danny Glover’s university and has his own television show and came in second in the Democratic Party Iowa primary…

          Whoops, it’s the reverse of that!

          1. Private universities arent part of the government. TV shows not on PBS arent part of the government. Being a losing presidential candidate who has never been elected to office is a very tenuous connection to government.

            A lobbyist (which is what an activist is) is connected. Robertson does some lobbying stuff too, so its a close call. Realistically, I call it a wash.

      2. Pat Robertson is verboten everywhere outside a certain type of evangelicals. Glover in contrast is respected and liked by nearly everyone on the left. Further, I bet you dollars to doughnuts I could go to a cocktail party of liberals and say the Haitian earthquake was caused by global warming. But there is nowhere outside of the craziest of evangelicals that claiming that Haitians are being punished by the devil would go unchallenged.

        Glover’s unhinged kind of beliefs are kind of the stock and trade of many leftists and certainly is at worst looked at as an eccentricity among the left. I guarantee you no one outside the Right will say a word about this or bother to contradict Glover.

        1. So the statement by MSG was incorrect, but not in the way he intended.

        2. Yup.

          If I ever hear a Leftist mention Robertson and Haiti, I will mention that Glover said worse. If they don’t know what I’m talking about, I will loudly call them ignorant and walk away.

          1. We will just assume, as usual, you are a fool to think such comparison equivalent, for reasons discussed by Dave below and myself above…

            1. Leftists can do whatever they want (see: Stalin, Mao for evidence) and you and your ilk will still praise them.

              Talking about a country legend (yes, some people in Haiti believe it) from 200 years ago and blaming that is slightly less stupid than blaming climate change or God being mad at Copenhagen.

        3. Disagree. Pat Robertson has his own channel, a law school that got 150 people into the executive branch under Bush, and he can leg press 2000 pounds, which makes him the world’s strongest man. Danny Glover can’t compete with that.

          1. Danny Glover was in Lethal Weapon.

            He is easily more influencial.

    3. The clip was cut off, but I never heard him say “The earthquake was caused by global warming”. (He did say, “We’re all in danger from climate change.”) He said something like, “We went to the conference in Copenhagen, and now this happens.” I think he was referring to how our involvement in international affairs has changed, or should change, with the Obama administration. I took “now this happens” to mean, we now have the chance to do an invasion for humanitarian reasons (as opposed to how Glover views the Iraq invasion), not “now this happens due to climate change”.

      1. Listened to the whole clip…

        Glover talks about global warming putting island nations in the Caribbean in danger. Then he says exactly what the blogger on the link reported:

        “When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?”

        You’re right. He doesn’t say AGW caused earthquakes. He says something far, far more insane: That the earthquake was retaliation (by whom?) for the failure to reach a political agreement in Copenhagen.

        Bat. Shit. In. Sane.

  16. You don’t have to mandate the result (a minimum wage). There are many things that might effect the bargaining process one could alter that would indirectly effect the results.

  17. Wiemar Republic… here we come!

    I’ve always thought that burning fistfuls of cash to keep warm would be just the thing to make me feel really rich. Hooray!

  18. So Mel Gibson is a raving anti-Semite with a Jesus Complex and Danny Glover thinks global warming causes earthquakes.

    How’s Joe Pesci and Renee Russo doing? Are Jet Li and Chris Rock OK? Or did you have to be in all four Lethal Weapon movies to go batshit insane?

    1. Oh, fuck. I forgot about Gary Busey.

    2. Wouldn’t you have had to be batshit insane to be in all 4 in the first place?

  19. if topic == government services
    mention Somalia
    elseif topic == global warming
    mention Piltdown Man
    create obvious sockpuppet

    1. elseif topic==posted by Moynihan
      mention Gaza

    2. Hey, that looks like the ClimateGate code!

    3. Brilliant work – I like it!

    4. Segmentation fault.

    5. elseif topic == private companies replacing government services
      mention made up example of private company not doing something as well as government

  20. Overpaid, underpaid, … I’m the guy with the gun.

  21. Family incomes are rising, because women entered the workplace in large numbers, but individual incomes have barely grown at all.

    It’s ponies all the way down.

    1. We took labor that was going to raise children and moved into other areas that paid more taxes to fund the government. So, kids rather than being raised by their mothers, go to a state regulated institution pretty much from birth. But remember, big government is for the children.

      1. The price is higher divorce, discontent, depression, anxiety, obesity(TV=parents), falling morality, etc.

  22. Oh, fuck. I forgot about Gary Busey.

    “Bird season’s over, butt-horn!”

  23. Oh, fuck. I forgot about Gary Busey

    And for that, I’m going to rip out your endocrine system.

    1. Doesn’t work anyway. Haha!

  24. I’ve figured it out: Libertarians have had their heads baked by Global Warming. Keith Olberman is a God, Danny Glover is Jesus, and you are all little Red-State Devils. How about another Cosmopolitan now.

      1. Troll squared

  25. MNG,
    Your theory of public and private sector symbiosis isn’t bad, but I don’t buy it. ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ are labels created BY the presence of government. Without it, all wouldn’t be private, it would simply be what it is, with no need for a label. So to say that public and private need each other is to assume that government is necessary and legitimate in the first place.

  26. The overpaid/underpaid thing is not really that complex.

    Look at companies like Whole Foods or Ben and Jerry’s. They have policies that help to define the value of workers.

    If you think your contributions to your company are worth 300 or 400 times that of the lowest paid worker, you need to put down the crack pipe.

    Whole Foods figures 14 times.
    Ben and Jerry’s used, iirc, something like 9 times.

    1. NM, do you really think the C-Suite at Whole Foods is taking home no more than $203,000 a year (14 x minimum wage)? Ben & Jerry’s CFO, CEO, etc. earn no more, all in, than $130,500 per year?

      I’ll betcha $50, right here and now, that they make a hell of a lot more than that.

    2. Those numbers are both low in many cases.

      If you are figuring out efficiencies (whether as corporate CEO or cashier) that apply to every store in the chain, then you likely deserve more than 10x the lowest paid person. Your value to the company is worth more than that.

    3. If you think your contributions to your company are worth 300 or 400 times that of the lowest paid worker, you need to put down the crack pipe.

      I agree. Top talent in key high level positions is worth way way more than 400x a cashier or janitor.

  27. In the private sector, income is determined by voluntary agreement, in the public sector, the government’s income is determined by arbitrary process and taxpayers are extorted into paying for stuff they actually do not wish to pay for.

    Yes, the government is largely parasitic. It cannot go out of business for failure to provide value to voluntary customers.

  28. I assume MNG has one of those overpaid government jobs.

    1. According to MNG’s math, he is underpaid and underappreciated.

  29. Where’s Nick G. and his English Ph.D. when we need him/it?

    Someone said “segway” — that’s “segue.”

    This is the only neutral post in the thread. A Switzerland moment. How relaxing.

  30. If you think your contributions to your company are worth 300 or 400 times that of the lowest paid worker, you need to put down the crack pipe.

    I agree. Top talent in key high level positions is worth way way more than 400x a cashier or janitor.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    They ought to be, but it is very hard to measure.

    That difficulty is what makes stock-option based incentive schemes for the management tiers so attractive. But then you have to think carefully about how you are structuring the incentives, lest you encourage a “6 months out is ‘long term'” attitude.

  31. but it is very hard to measure

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