Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do You Earn Less or More If You Work in the Public Sector?

Remember our discussion about those lazy public sector workers who make huge amounts of money for doing nothing? And how the poor people who work in the private sector can only sit there and observe with envy the over-entitled lazy brats in the public sector? This table that I discovered at David Ruccio's blog tells us something different. Middle- and higher-wage employees make significantly less in the public sector. This means that people who are better educated and more experienced end up being punished financially for working in the public sector.

So enough already with this myth of lazy, spoiled public school professor who grow stinky rich on the public dime while doing nothing of value.


Pagan Topologist said...

As I commented on another post, I think, I know two people with Ph. D.'s who were offered more than double their public sector salaries to move into the private sector. One took it; the other did not.

wanderlust said...

I'm surprised that this is the perception in the US. In India, it is well understood that the public sector pays a whole lot less than the private sector.

Greenconsciousness said...

This is the thing about lies with stats -- there is so much not said by this simple view. We all know best the interests of our own class and peers --our bias reflect our life experiences.

This is what I say --there are three relevant groups in this question. Government, public sector unions and the taxpayer and a fourth, the consumer.

In WI there is the teacher's union, the property tax payer and the student consumer. Their interests conflict. There will be no peace until the needs of all are considered and equalized.

I think to only sing union songs as if public sector unions and private sector unions are the same thing is too simplistic.

I have written on this subject on my blog. The post is called Civil war v. class war. I wish you would come over and read it Clarissa

Tom Carter said...

The best way to look at this question is to control for education. When comparing total public sector income with total private sector income, it looks like public employees are paid more. However, a much higher percentage of people in the public sector are better educated. When it's broken down by high school or less, bachelor's degrees, and graduate/professional degrees the outcome is much different--public sector employees are generally underpaid.

Greenconsciousness said...

So why do they stay? - Please -who do you think buys this, we are better than you, argument? It translates to Privilege arguing for special treatment.

FD said...

It's the same in the UK - public sector work has traditionally been lower paid than private, but this has been made up for by the feel good factor of serving the public, and job / pension security. In general, people work for say, the NHS, because they believe in the NHS. Job satisfaction is actually a higher motivator than money for many - at least up to a point.

Clarissa said...

Please, people, do me the kindness of not mentioning this overused and empty slogan of "privilege." It's a completely nonexistent concept invented by lazy pseudo-liberals.

Greenconsciousness said...

I am not a lazy pseudo liberal and privilege is real, as you would know if you weren't. But the term has been misused just to shut people up by the left.

You said all that about pseudo because you agree with Tom that those who are well educated are underpaid. Can you think of any reason, other than truth, that might make you identify with that statement?

Clarissa said...

I don't identify with any statement. I just hate the word "privilege" for reasons that I explained many times at length on this blog.

Clarissa said...

On "privilege":

If you can't make an argument without using the word "privilege", then something is wrong with the argument. It's empty, meaningless filler word that people use when they are too lazy to think.

Greenconsciousness said...

I think I have made good reasoned arguments here and on my own blog. I can think and write. Really Clarissa, I too have been irritated by the word. But I know many many people who never had a chance. Crushed people. And had you been born into their circumstance you would be crushed too.

There is privilegeboth of race, gender and class aswell as many other factors most of all nuturance. You can accept that on its face without guilt.

I believe Tom was coming from P arguing for more. It is an insulting position when his "inferiors" are the ones being asked to do with less so he can have more.

I won't argue further. But I will read what you wrote on the subject.

Izgad said...

If people in the public sector believe that they can do better in the private sector let them try. Union workers protesting are really protesting for their right to have the government put a gun to my head and hand them my money. Sorry if I do not have loads of sympathy.

David said...

A formerly useful construct that has been so utterly overused and abused by every two bit commenter on the internet that we would have been better off without it.

But I also think the same thing of other words. If you can't bother to be original in your own thought (instead of quoting every other lemming who already came up with the same idea) then you would be better off finding a unique way of expressing yourself, lest you bore everyone else to death before getting your point across.

My take on the public sector and work in general: I think it is a common delusion of many that public sector workers are lazy and don't earn their wages. However, it is also a common human delusion to view oneself as superior, more intelligent, and more hardworking than similarly intelligent, good, hardworking people. It follows that many who do not work public sector jobs would take their delusions about "I'm hardworking, but other people are lazy" to apply to a category of workers that they see as protected.

Clarissa said...

Greenconsciousness: could you explain in your own words what the word "privilege" means to you?

Izgad: the unions are not asking anybody to introduce more taxes, as far as I know. It's just that many people believe that the taxes you already pay can be used a lot better than they are used right now.

Greenconsciousness said...

Privilege to me means the benefit of having something that others do not which gives you an advantage. Usually people feel they earned their position or power, in this case higher education. But the privilege here is you were not born to people who not only did not value education but who also beat the crap out of you every day. You went to one kind of school and the abused child went to another.

There are many factors to privilege and it is not a blanket. Not all minorities are disadvantaged by class or race and not all women by gender. Class however is a killer when combined with abuse.

Before we get so comfortable about saying some people deserve to be paid more because of their higher education I think a deeper look at the subject of who is able to obtain higher education is warranted. And we need to look deeper at the harm to the individual who has to pay more from their wages to provide the benefits related to that acquired education.

When I went to law school from the lower "class", I noticed with shock that the entire class was filled with the sons and daughters of lawyers and judges. There were a handful of affirmative action kids for diversity. The sons and daughters understood the system better in their first year than I do now. One hand washed the other among their parents. Class gives you the privilege of knowing.

There is an excellent book that explains this in real life terms. It is called "Limbo" by Alfred Lubrano.

Anonymous said...

In the US Army, it was routine for officers (which requires at least a four-year-degree) to get out and make double to quadruple what they were making in the Army. My own commander did that.

And even middle-to-senior NCOs would get out, and go to private-sector jobs where they'd be doing the very same job as they'd done in the Army for around double the wages.

I am sure that low-level public sector workers make more than low-level private sector workers. This is a very good thing, in my opinion -- low-level works are grossly, horribly underpaid for the amount of utility they provide in the US.

Though I do not do the same job I did in the Army, I work much less in the private sector than I did in the Army, and I make about six times more than I did in the service. Not a typo. Six times more.


Clarissa said...

Greenconsciousness: you have confused me completely. It is a traditional practice in every workplace to pay more to people who have education and/or work experience. Are you saying that employers should question potential candidates as to whether they had been abused and raise their salaries in case they say they were? Are you saying that people should not receive higher salaries in return for going to grad school for 7 years? You do realize that this makes no sense whatsoever, right?

Child abuse is horrible but the existence of child abuse has nothing whatsoever to do with the problem that's being discussed here right now. Public workers do not have a lesser chance of having been abused as children.

Greenconsciousness said...


you have to read this to be unconfused:

I do not care what a grad student makes in the private sector. But the states have become the largest employers. When salaries are coming from taxpayers, the source is unsustainable. The public unions have become oppressors just like the banks. Have you seen how many people are employed by the state? --the university et al,, the hospital, the state Dept's, the teachers, the cops the fire and EMT, the judges and clerks, the legislators aides, the correction officers and on and on.
Unsustainable. Many salaries come exclusively from residential property taxes. Have you heard what home owners are going through in the private sector?

Clarissa said...

I have read your post and unfortunately it did not convince me of anything. When I read about the "privilege of the unions" I had to stop reading because that is meaningless to me. I work for a state university, and I'm not in any union. Where exactly does my "privelege" lie? That I killed myself working my entire youth away while other people partied and had fun? Nothing was ever handed to me by anything or anybody. So I refuse to feel apologetic to people who believed the myth that buying real estate in the US is not a total waste of money. If you can't afford the crazy and wasteful luxury of owning a house, then don't own a house.

Greenconsciousness: are you a Tea Partier? Why not just confess it directly and we will all know what we are dealing with here. I remember your rants about how bad horrible immigrants procreate like rabbits and consume all resources. Now you complain about the fact that police precincts and firefighters are not privatized yet. The unions and the banks are oppressors. Do tell, do you keep the picture of Sarah Palin on your nightstand?

Greenconsciousness said...

Clarissa the personal attack is pathetic. And always done by the left when they run out of ideas. I am a feminist - a radical feminist. I worked as an Alinsky organizer in my youth in NOW and at various smaller organizations. I started the first battered woman's shelter in WI and thereafter worked with rape victims.I did employment class actions. I organized neighborhoods into protective associations. I taught abuse and assault prevention at the girls and boys club. I had a butcher abortion and then was an underground abortion counselor. I have worked with the poor all my life and been the victim also.I am an animal rights vegan and a thoughtful environmentalist. I am against illegal immigration in all its forms because it hurts the poor and helps the corporations. Additionally overpopulation hurts the environment.And unchecked immigration allows people to overpopulate at the behest of their religious overlords. Absolutely. I don't fall into party lines.

I am not something you can stuff into your neat little political boxes. Because I am reality based and do not see things as the thought masters dictate. This has a price. Are you a fascist oppressor intent on serving your own selfish economic interests at the expense of whose ever backs you have to step on ? I thought you were brighter than the norm or at least objective but here in your name calling is the SOS. You think you know it all and really have nothing more to learning life. We will see how long you get to ignore those you use to make your income.

Greenconsciousness said...

You should have kept reading --because I point the way out of the trap in that post -- the public sector unions working with the property tax payers to restructure the economic system.

I suppose you were too busy condemning me to grasp a thought too big for the boxes in your mind. I will put your picture right up there with palin's - you have a lot in common.

Clarissa said...

Yes, I have been discovered for the nasty fascist oppressor that I am. :-)

You never know where posting an innocent little graph might lead.

Greenconsciousness said...

Down the rabit hole for sure, Peace

Pagan Topologist said...

Izgad, the things you enjoy, many of them, would not exist without taxes having been collected. The internet, computers of any kind, in fact, highways, and safe air travel, are the first examples that come to mind. Equating taxes with theft is just silly. My father always told me to pay taxes and not try to minimize them beyond the obvious deductions. He said it was the honorable thing to do, and I agree with him. This is not a case of 'like father, like son' as there are many MANY areas where I still strongly disagree with his beliefs. But not this one.