Examiner Editorial: Bad economic times are good for bureaucrats

Something President Barack Obama said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo about foreign policymaking is equally applicable to the domestic scene. That is his reminder that the world must be dealt with as it is, not as we might wish it to be.

This maxim’s similar importance on the home front was highlighted by a USA Today investigative report published last week that found “federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.” In other words, bad times for the rest of us are good times for the federal establishment.

This recession has been such a boom time for the bureaucracy that “federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.”

USA Today especially was struck by the fact that there was only one career federal worker making an annual salary of $170,000 or more at the U.S. Department of Transportation when the current recession began. Today, 18 months later, there are more than 1,600 career employees making that much at the department. We can only hope that none of those added 1,600-plus high-paid workers were responsible for the $2 billion Cash for Clunkers debacle run by the Transportation Department.

Hot Air.com’s Ed Morrissey points out something else that has occurred as the ranks of career government workers in Washington, D.C., has surged: “It’s not as if they’ve been asked to do more with less, either. In the first six months of the year, the federal government was adding 10,000 jobs per month, and over the recession had grown the ranks of bureaucrats by 9.8 percent. The private sector, during that same period, shed 7.3 million jobs.”

Hard times for folks outside the federal establishment are good times for Washington politicians, with their never-ending thirst for finding new ways of grabbing tax dollars to benefit themselves, members of their families, present or former staff members, friends or campaign donors. The $448 billion appropriation bill approved last week by the House contained more than 5,000 earmarks, many of which will ultimately be found to have benefitted mainly the favored few rather than the suffering many.

It’s helpful to keep these realities about Washington bureaucrats and politicians in mind the next time one of them steps forward with another crisis that demands billions more tax dollars to “solve.”

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