At the Democratic National Convention in 2004 Barack H. Obama came to the nation’s attention with his keynote speech about ‘Two Americas’ (Video highlights). In the second half of his speech he talks about only one country, neither white nor black, neither red nor blue. Barack Obama was wrong. America is a country divided many ways: liberals versus conservatives, haves versus have-nots, tea partiers versus occupiers. The list goes on but in the last ten years a new division has come upon the scene.
Let me tell you a new tale of the two Americas. Today in America we are seeing a country divided by people who work for government at all levels and people who work in private industry. (Video) While government jobs have grown by 15%, jobs in the private sector have grown by 1%. Counting government workers is very difficult.
Over a number of decades government not only has increased direct government workers but they have also outsourced many government functions that still cost the taxpayers billions in personnel costs. Paul Light of NYU came up with a total count of Federal workforce in excess of 14,000,000 when you include everyone: civilians, contract workers, the military and postal workers. And that number was from 2006. Since then the workforce has increased dramatically.
We have seen an absolute explosion in salaries at the Federal level. Where we once had only one person at the Transportation Department earning $170,000 per year, we now have almost 1,700. Overall, federal employees making $150,000 or more has doubled in the last two years. Total compensation at the Federal level has increased by 20% in the same time period.
The problem is not just at the Federal level. State and local government workers on the average make 45% more than their counterparts in the private sector. They typically retire at 55 years of age with overly generous pensions. The State of California has over 15,000 government retirees collecting $100,000 or more in annual pensions. Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas and current Presidential candidate, is already collecting $92,000+ in annual pension benefits on top of his salary of $150,000 per year! Meanwhile, nationwide we have a shortfall in pension funding in the neighborhood of $3 trillion.
To show you the division between the government worker haves and the private sector have-nots let’s look at the average total compensation between the two Americas. Government workers have a total average compensation of $119,000 while private sector total average compensation is $69,000. To bring this statistic into real focus, 12 of the nation’s 25 richest communities surround our nation’s capital, including: Loudon county, Fairfax county, Arlington county and Falls Church in Virginia and Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland.
To add insult to injury, many of the Federal workers are in departments that many say shouldn’t even exist, like the Transportation Department, the Commerce Department, the Energy Department, HUD and list goes on and on. Government has tried to be too many things to too many people. In many cases truly the Mommy State.
Richard Billies is founder and purveyor of AllThingsPoliticalToday.com and a frequent contributor to the SNSPost. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Billies.