Slim, Trim, Care-Free, Tax-Free Feds

Ever wonder why the average federal worker is so slim, and in such good shape? And with all that disposable income which they never dispose of?

Me neither.

To tell the truth I hadn’t noticed, even here in the midst of DC where one is constantly surrounded by government workers, who don’t give the appearance of hidden wealth or being undernourished. But it must be true because…

Word on the street is that civil servants don’t eat much, live in parks or under bridges (instead of houses) and either walk, bike or jog to work.


In addition to consuming little, as in not eating or owning cars or paying rent or a mortgage, federal workers apparently don’t pay taxes, according to their detractors. This will come as a shock to millions of feds who will probable review their pay statements to see what all those deductions really are?

I did not know that!

But that’s what some people, who really should know better, think and are saying. We appear to be in the middle of an unusually severe bash-the-bureaucrat season. Some politicians and portions of the media are painting feds as being overpaid, underworked, time-servers.

Recent articles and studies have made the point that government workers make more than their counterparts in industry, that are overpaid, that they cling to their jobs, and that their fringe benefits package is overly generous and a drain on those of us in the private sector who are consumers and taxpayers.

Consider this tip from a Florida-based federal retiree. He said he was watching tv last week “…and I heard another ‘expert’ on CNBC say that anytime the federal government hires a new employee, that increases the debt, but when the private sector hires someone, they create a consumer and tax payer. And the MC of the show agreed. I was flabbergasted! Should the federal government just hire contractors? ” Marc

Interesting point. All of the feds I know are consumers. And they grumble about taxes like the rest of us, so I presume they are paying taxes too.

If they aren’t consumers, who is responsible for the horrible rush hour traffic (second only to LA) in the Washington area? Are all those people who drive into Ft. Meade, who park at the Pentagon and who lunch in Chinatown, at the Federal Triangle or in Arlington private sector workers? Or contractors? Or are some of the folks on the road—like lots in the DC area—civil servants who are consumers AND taxpayers too?

On the subject of overpaid feds, consider this comment:

  • I wonder if anyone has looked at salaries for federal doctors and lawyers, and compared them to the outside world. I don’t know about doctors (though I assume most DC-area physicians make good money) but I’ve recently had a number of conversations with lawyers and the remuneration they receive in private industry that I’m being told about is absolutely staggering. No way Uncle Sam is paying those amounts of money!” T. J. Falls Church, VA

LEOs, ATC & Firefighters

There are special, often complicated, retirement rules for federal law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers and firefighters. And making the most of that benefit package is the theme of today’s For Your Benefit radio show at 10 am EDT.

Tax expert Bob Leins and benefits expert Bob Braunstein will talk about mandatory retirement, premium pay as part of the high-3 retirement computation and other facets of the special system for feds in high-risk, high-burnout rate jobs.

If you have any questions you can call in, or e-mail them to me and I’ll pass them on to the two Bobs. To listen, click here.

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Vyomika Jairam

Chuck at the USBR dropped us a note to tell us about the Sutter Buttes near Yuba City (north of Sacramento CA). They’re called the world’s smallest mountain range. The core of an old volcano, it is only about 10 miles long by 10 miles wide. Thanks Chuck!

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Dorobek Must Reads
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