Greg Mankiw made a post today, where he claims that the CBO says federal workers are overpaid compared to their private sector counterparts. The problem here is, the CBO never actually says that. What Mankiw links is pretty much a straight up info dump that looks pretty objective to me. I don’t know why Mankiw decided to be intellectually dishonest about it. He has the right to process the information however he wants, from blog posts to printing it out and ollying over it. My issue is him lying about the position of the CBO. I could keep my mouth shut and wait for a blog actually dedicated to being anti-mankiw to post on this, but instead I’m just going to dip a toe in before sprinting back out.
It’s clear that federal employees do get paid more than private sector employees, but what part of this info dump says this means they’re overpaid? I would argue that the private sector is underpaid. Private sector employees get paid by an entity that has profits to look after, first and foremost. Federal agencies have budgets like everyone else, but the bottom line is not the profit. Exploitation isn’t part of the formula to success, results are. This isn’t to say private firms should operate more like federal agencies. I couldn’t realistically ask that of a completely different beast. What the federal government represents to me in this case, is something of a sweet spot in compensation. The wages and benefits of government workers allow better health, longer life expectancy, and an improved education for their children. That’s not overpaid to me, that’s the American dream. I don’t have any data to prove this, but feel free to agree.