The phrase “shared sacrifice” has been bandied about lately and this book certainly points out that when a politician uses that phrase he is not including himself. For example, during the heighth of the recent recession, my sacrifice was skipping a year of pay increase. And yes, President Obama said he was freezing cost of living adjustments for federal employees. He forgot to mention that “step promotion” raises are mandated by law and were not blocked. The author gives some examples of how this works, quoting from USA Today:
When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.
The author also writes:
Between 2007 and 2009, the number of federal workers making over $150,000 increased by 119 percent, and the number earning more than $170,000 increased by 93 percent.
(Just a side note, not in the book. President Obama was railing against corporate jets as an abuse by corporations. I heard on the radio today that the number of federal government limos in Washington, DC has increased by 73 percent during the Obama years. See:
Murray also writes about other examples of Public Sector abuse. One example he gives is the Pigford discrimination lawsuit settlement. Timothy Pigford and 400 other black farmers sued the USDA for discrimination regarding loan applications for black farmers. I do not doubt that discrimination happened. The farmers won the case and there is a financial settlement but there is a problem. The author quotes a letter from Congressman Steve King to Tom Vilsack:
There is a growing firestorm over allegations of massive fraud in the Pigford settlement…According to sworn testimony by John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers association, there are 18,000 black farmers…To date, there have been over 94,000 claims made.
The author writes that this settlement will run to several billion dollars, most of it for fraudulent claims.
The author’s thesis is that Public Sector is too big and prone to abuse and fraud. And he offers some suggestions for reform:
- Shrink the federal government
- Reform federal pay
- Make contracts public and abolish grants
- Introduce a Single Fair Tax
- Regulatory reform
- End labor union privileges
- Privatize appropriate government functions
I haven’t been a close follower of the Tea Party movement but when I see a story like this one I gotta say “you go!”
I wonder if Alec Baldwin takes advantage of tax loopholes…or does he pay his “fair share” of taxes on the millions he makes…I gotta go.