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RE: Put it in perspective

Touché. Honestly, I didn’t even consider most of the bureaucrats floating around DC and the state capitols when I wrote that.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released data this month showing that the average compensation for the 1.8 million federal civilian workers in 2005 was $106,579 — exactly twice the average compensation paid in the U.S. private sector: $53,289. If you consider wages without benefits, the average federal civilian worker earned $71,114, 62 percent more than the average private-sector worker, who made $43,917.

But in the 4th Infantry Division of the 20,000 or so employees, I know of only ten individuals that are making better than [[www.dod.mil/dfas/militarypay/newinformation/WebPayTableVersion2006updated.pdf 6 figures]], and its probably safe to assume that Colonels and Generals in the Army can earn a similar amount of money in the private sector. (Whether or not they earn it, however, is another story.) Even a Major hanging on for his 20 years isn’t seeing more than $73,000 a year (and he has given 20 years to his service.) But I’m having trouble figuring out who’s making all the money to bring the average level of compensation above $71,000. Because it ain’t Soldiers, it ain’t cops, and it ain’t teachers.

But yeah, you’re right, there’s an awful lot of bureaucrats out there, and most of them make far more money than they’re worth. I’ll be the first to say that a lot of the folks in Washington are the drains on the federal budget cited in that study, but I stand by the fact that the police, enlisted Soldiers and teachers are underpaid.

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Not high-end GSs. Everybody. Look at total compensation, not salary. Salary is virtually meaningless.

I will use me in the Army vs. me in the private sector as an example in the crude chart below:

Benefit/ Value in the Army/ Value in the private sector

Health Care/ $0/ $190 a mo. plus copays, usally about $250 a month
Cost of Living Allowance/ $600-800/ $0
Housing Allowance/ $600-1500/ $0
BAS/ $150-200/ $0

Taking just these components of "compensation," we’re looking at a $1600-2650 differential. Over a year that’s $19,200-31,800. And none of those dollar values were unique to me as an officer. And oh, by the way, none of it is taxable.

Joe E-1 could get the bottom end of any of those benefits. $35K in compensation for a high school diploma and no experience is not a bad living.

The "underpaid soldiers" myth is one of the biggest lies ever propagated. It was true when my grandpa was in WWII but it was not true when I was an E-1 in 1994. It is not true now, either.

The only soldiers struggling to make ends meet are those who have kids too young. And people who have kids too young in the civilian world don’t get extra BAH.

As an aside, I have some Army friends collecting WIC: one is an O-3E and the other an E-6. Just for fun, calculate the value of free milk, formula, and bread every month.

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