Author Topic: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system  (Read 9207 times)

CheapskateWife

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Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« on: September 25, 2017, 02:07:50 PM »
Several items of note brought to my attention recently; one, the presidents proposed changes to our retirement system (effective 2018, so no grandfathering current employees):

https://federalnewsradio.com/retirement/2017/05/trumps-proposed-retirement-changes-would-have-major-impacts-on-current-feds-and-retirees/

TLDR version:  You are going to pay more, and they are planning to get rid of COLA...thanks boss!

And then this little doozy...

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ne7zgw/trumps-quiet-campaign-against-government-workers

and this...

http://www.govexec.com/management/2017/09/white-house-demands-training-every-federal-employee-consequences-leaks/141197/

What I glean from all of this is that despite the fact that many of us served several decades (and under previous Repub administrations), we are members of the "deep state" and are of little to no value to our CIC. 

Shall we discuss or just whine?  What can be done about the proposed changes to our retirement system or is it just too late?  Has this already been discussed ad nauseum (sp) and I just missed it?

neverrun

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 02:33:51 PM »
I am of the opinion of it ain't no change until the fat lady sings.  As in proposals to weaken the pension system have been around for a while.  So far as a 2000 fed I haven't had a change since employment.  I'm of the opinion that at some point at a minimum I will have contribute more to the pension.  Every year I don't is a bonus.  But I'm not going to think of the implications and how it will effect my decision to continue in employment until it is law and not just a proposal. 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 02:36:52 PM by neverrun »

Slee_stack

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 02:40:02 PM »
Fed DW mentioned this about a month back.  In the end, its a fairly small negative impact to us, so no whining here.

Folks that are more heavily reliant on their pension probably feel differently though.

Supposedly, the extra pay-in won't affect many existing LT fed employees, but newer ones are indeed screwed there.  I think they've been screwed for a few years now?

Being both a beneficiary and a (tax)payer for these pension benefits, I see both sides of the fence.  I think, in general, I'm in agreement with paring back the federal bennies...slowly.


BTDretire

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 02:58:39 PM »
Do you have any numbers showing how government workers are paid more, have more days off, have better medical benefits while working, have better retirement benefits and have better medical benefits after retirement than non government workers?

I'll present some numbers!
"In 2016 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $88,809, according the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).5 By comparison, the average wage for the nationís 114 million private-sector workers was $59,458. Figure 1 shows that average federal wages grew rapidly for a decade, then slowed during the partial pay freeze, and then have risen again in recent years."

When benefits such as health care and pensions are included, the federal compensation advantage over private workers is even larger, according to the BEA data. In 2016 total federal compensation averaged $127,259 or 80 PERCENT MORE than the private-sector average of $70,764, as shown in Figure 2.

  It so easy to raise taxes on 100 million workers and give it to 2.6 Million Federal workers, but that doesn't make it right.

From: https://www.downsizinggovernment.org/federal-worker-pay
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 03:12:47 PM by BTDretire »

CheapskateWife

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 03:11:27 PM »
Do you have any numbers showing how government workers are paid more, have more days off, have better medical benefits while working, have better retirement benefits and have medical benefits after retirement than non government workers?

I'll present some numbers!
"In 2016 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $88,809, according the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).5 By comparison, the average wage for the nationís 114 million private-sector workers was $59,458. Figure 1 shows that average federal wages grew rapidly for a decade, then slowed during the partial pay freeze, and then have risen again in recent years."


When benefits such as health care and pensions are included, the federal compensation advantage over private workers is even larger, according to the BEA data. In 2016 total federal compensation averaged $127,259 or 80 percent more than the private-sector average of $70,764, as shown in Figure 2.
I'm assuming you presenting this data has a point...

Lets talk about what average means...when we average, we take all data points, and divide them by the number of data points. 

When we are looking at private sector workers, what are you including...could it be that all low-skill, minimum wage workers are included?  The federal government, in comparison, has little use for such jobs, and thus employs very few individuals in that pay range.  That might skew the "average".

Since you didn't provide a link to your data source, I'm having a hard time determining if you are trolling a legitimate conversation, or are simply lashing out at what you perceive to be Federal employees who don't deserve the compensation and benefits they are promised.

Anecdotal to be sure, but I've given up lots of opportunities for tremendous salary gains to hang on to the security and promised benefits my service provides to my family.  What I perceive is that Mr. Trump thinks as little of our service as you appear to.

Eludia

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 03:14:36 PM »
That data is pretty useless as its painting an incredibly broad brush of statistics and compares two very different things. 

Compare Fed jobs to commercial jobs in similar roles and then you might have a meaningful point of comparison. 

BTDretire

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 03:16:21 PM »
I was editing to add the source of data while you were writing.
No troll, I just think most government workers are overpaid compared to the private sector.
 

BTDretire

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2017, 03:19:54 PM »
That data is pretty useless as its painting an incredibly broad brush of statistics and compares two very different things. 

Compare Fed jobs to commercial jobs in similar roles and then you might have a meaningful point of comparison.

 OK I'll split the difference, pay them more but, let's not support them at a high income and pay all there medical until the end of there lives.
I'm easy like that :-)

TheAnonOne

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2017, 03:20:56 PM »
I was editing to add the source of data while you were writing.
No troll, I just think most government workers are overpaid compared to the private sector.

At least in software, where I work, that is not even close to my findings. Government contracts are generally at the mid to low end of the range. (Software consulting)

I think if you exclude the mc-workers out of the private side, you would see this graph change drastically.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2017, 03:27:35 PM »
That data is pretty useless as its painting an incredibly broad brush of statistics and compares two very different things. 

Compare Fed jobs to commercial jobs in similar roles and then you might have a meaningful point of comparison.

 OK I'll split the difference, pay them more but, let's not support them at a high income and pay all there medical until the end of there lives.
I'm easy like that :-)
I think perhaps you don't understand...the promise at retirement is access to the FEHB...which is a program that requires the retiree to pay a monthly stipend to receive the insurance.  It is not free.

Additionally, the current FERS pension pays out at 1% per year of service multiplied times your base pay.  For me, it will be about the same as my rather meager SSI. 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 03:33:19 PM by CheapskateWife »

fattest_foot

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2017, 04:02:54 PM »
And then this little doozy...

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ne7zgw/trumps-quiet-campaign-against-government-workers

Not sure why this link was included. Seems like you just wanted more "Trump sucks" links and that fit the bill.

I guess we'll just ignore the 0% increases in 2011, 2012, and 2013? Or the 1% in 2014, 2015, and 2016?

facepalm

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2017, 07:46:22 PM »
Do you have any numbers showing how government workers are paid more, have more days off, have better medical benefits while working, have better retirement benefits and have better medical benefits after retirement than non government workers?
Non-sequitur.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2017, 04:49:07 AM »
The first link in the OP was to a story on Trump's proposed FY 18 budget, which came out back in May.  There's been no real progress on passing a budget since, and we're under a continuing resolution until December.  Is there any information out there to indicate that Congress is seriously considering incorporating Trump's cuts into the actual FY '18 budget?  Or that Republican leadership would be able to get the cuts passed if they are planning to include them?
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Gunny

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2017, 05:26:51 AM »
Do you have any numbers showing how government workers are paid more, have more days off, have better medical benefits while working, have better retirement benefits and have medical benefits after retirement than non government workers?

I'll present some numbers!
"In 2016 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $88,809, according the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).5 By comparison, the average wage for the nationís 114 million private-sector workers was $59,458. Figure 1 shows that average federal wages grew rapidly for a decade, then slowed during the partial pay freeze, and then have risen again in recent years."

When benefits such as health care and pensions are included, the federal compensation advantage over private workers is even larger, according to the BEA data. In 2016 total federal compensation averaged $127,259 or 80 percent more than the private-sector average of $70,764, as shown in Figure 2.
I'm assuming you presenting this data has a point...

Lets talk about what average means...when we average, we take all data points, and divide them by the number of data points. 

When we are looking at private sector workers, what are you including...could it be that all low-skill, minimum wage workers are included?  The federal government, in comparison, has little use for such jobs, and thus employs very few individuals in that pay range.  That might skew the "average".

Since you didn't provide a link to your data source, I'm having a hard time determining if you are trolling a legitimate conversation, or are simply lashing out at what you perceive to be Federal employees who don't deserve the compensation and benefits they are promised.

Anecdotal to be sure, but I've given up lots of opportunities for tremendous salary gains to hang on to the security and promised benefits my service provides to my family.  What I perceive is that Mr. Trump thinks as little of our service as you appear to.

^ +1.  High skilled Feds such as medical researches and physicians, lawyers, and accountants make far less than their civilian counterparts.  And there are high skilled Feds (such as the ones working in my former organization) that have jobs that are of great importance to national security.  They go into harm's way risking life and limb to serve their country.  They earn salaries in the 80-150K range and rightfully so.  However, there are great savings that could be had in the federal budget by cutting 10-20 percent of the work force for non-essential jobs such as administrative and logistical positions.  I saw the waste in these areas in my own organization. It would sicken me to walk the halls and grounds of my organization's HQ and see the coffee drinking, smoking, and general bullshitting going on by those with too much time on their hands while collecting a federal paycheck. But renigging on the promise of pensions and availability to health care, which I and many others paid into, is unfair and wrong.  If these changes are to be made, then grandfather those already under the current system and make it policy for new hires.

L.A.S.

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2017, 06:51:30 AM »
I was editing to add the source of data while you were writing.
No troll, I just think most government workers are overpaid compared to the private sector.

In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.

Cutting pay and benefits in the government does not result in the same level of government services at a better price.  It causes the more qualified people to go to the private sector  -- because they can --  leaving the remainder as Federal employees.

Perhaps the next time you perceive government incompetence, you should ask yourself this: How would the situation be improved if the quality of the Federal employees involved were reduced?

Hargrove

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2017, 06:59:38 AM »
Lol @ comparing public and private sectors in a race to the bottom.

Public used to be low pay and solid benefits IF you stuck around.

Private has cut so much incentive for the workers, public looks great all around, and instead of being upset with private for sucking, people are upset with public for being "too good."

Just ridiculous.

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2017, 07:36:45 AM »
Quote
^ +1.  High skilled Feds such as medical researches and physicians, lawyers, and accountants make far less than their civilian counterparts.  And there are high skilled Feds (such as the ones working in my former organization) that have jobs that are of great importance to national security.  They go into harm's way risking life and limb to serve their country.  They earn salaries in the 80-150K range and rightfully so.  However, there are great savings that could be had in the federal budget by cutting 10-20 percent of the work force for non-essential jobs such as administrative and logistical positions.  I saw the waste in these areas in my own organization. It would sicken me to walk the halls and grounds of my organization's HQ and see the coffee drinking, smoking, and general bullshitting going on by those with too much time on their hands while collecting a federal paycheck. But renigging on the promise of pensions and availability to health care, which I and many others paid into, is unfair and wrong.  If these changes are to be made, then grandfather those already under the current system and make it policy for new hires.

I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat and my observations and those of some of the managers were that 75% of the people could be let go with no loss in productivity.  The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment.  My pay, btw, is much higher in the private sector now, but so is my work output and my value.  At the government, I had only 3 real days of work a month.  The rest of the time was spent going to meetings or fooling around on the computer.  Any of my attempts to make anything run more efficiently - such as automating our testing - were attacked with indifference and "lack of funding" though they always seem to have funding to hire more people.  The government always wants to hire more people just to have them sit in an office somewhere.  The lady in the cubicle next to me ran cat adoptions all day out of her government cubicle.  Others spent the day hiding from their real jobs.  One guy day-traded all day.  Another ran an online gambling ring.  So many of the employees weren't even born in this country making me wonder why we couldn't at least find bureaucrats with English skills.  Cutting the government workforce or benefits won't harm its efficiency at all - quite the contrary.  Fear of losing their jobs will cause actual productivity just like it does in the private sector.  The truth is that all of the good people in the government have already left for the private sector which rewards good work while the government does not.  Most bureaucrats feel threatened by good workers tipping the apple cart.  There is a 'waste/fraud/abuse' hotline to call, but should I have called it on the entire installation?         

The behavior of government employees was unbelievably puerile and entitled.  They were constantly complaining about threats to job security though there were none since they couldn't be fired. I suspect this is because they all knew they did nothing for a living and couldn't make it a minute in the private sector.  They also whined about their benefits which, as posted above, are far higher than the private sector counting their pensions and medical care.  I paid almost nothing for the delivery of my first son.  My subsequent children cost me about $7k out of pocket. 

The OP is an example of this entitlement mentality.  Her benefits are far, far higher than she'd get in the private sector already but it's not enough and UHHHHHH, she has to work for another Republican.  About 90% of bureaucrats vote Democrat.  Wonder why?

Several years after I left, I ran into another guy at my same company who used to work where I did.  He left about the same time after about the same amount of time there.  He assessment of the situation is identical to mine. 

CheapskateWife

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2017, 07:50:51 AM »
Quote
^ +1.  High skilled Feds such as medical researches and physicians, lawyers, and accountants make far less than their civilian counterparts.  And there are high skilled Feds (such as the ones working in my former organization) that have jobs that are of great importance to national security.  They go into harm's way risking life and limb to serve their country.  They earn salaries in the 80-150K range and rightfully so.  However, there are great savings that could be had in the federal budget by cutting 10-20 percent of the work force for non-essential jobs such as administrative and logistical positions.  I saw the waste in these areas in my own organization. It would sicken me to walk the halls and grounds of my organization's HQ and see the coffee drinking, smoking, and general bullshitting going on by those with too much time on their hands while collecting a federal paycheck. But renigging on the promise of pensions and availability to health care, which I and many others paid into, is unfair and wrong.  If these changes are to be made, then grandfather those already under the current system and make it policy for new hires.

I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat
Thank you for your selfless service...
The OP is an example of this entitlement mentality.  Her benefits are far, far higher than she'd get in the private sector already but it's not enough and UHHHHHH, she has to work for another Republican.  About 90% of bureaucrats vote Democrat.  Wonder why?
Wow, way to take my question out of context...I could frankly care less what the political affiliation of my CIC is (I'm a libertarian leaning independent voter), the real issue is that as an employee, my employer is making it pretty clear that:
1) my work is of little value.
2) that the benefit I was originally offered is being reduced, thus making it less attractive to continue to serve.

Granted, I will give you that my benefits are far higher than I would get in the private sector, but the low pay more than makes up for it. 

Back to the original question, has anyone out there spent any time reaching out to their representatives on this matter?  What kind of response did you get?

Yankuba

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2017, 08:23:44 AM »
"The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment."

That may have been true in the past, but it's no longer the case. I have been at my federal agency since 2001 and while it was an employer of last resort back then, the world has transformed as well as our workforce. We now get hundreds of applications per opening, which allows us to hire superstars. There is a 0% chance that I would have my job if I graduated college in 2005 or 2008 instead of 2001 - I would have been passed over for someone much better.

As far as salaries - the attorneys that leave my agency regularly double their salaries in the private sector and it's not unheard of for the elite performers to earn $500k to $1 mil. Thus, it is incorrect that they are paid too much when they work for the government as the private sector pays them multiples more their first day out of the government.

DoubleDown

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2017, 08:27:36 AM »
I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat... The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment.

How insulting.

And so untrue as a broad, ridiculous over-generalization. Your assessment as government workers being the "bottom of the labor pool" and "washouts from the private sector" is demonstrably false in addition to being insulting. I am just one example, having given up a lucrative and successful career in private industry to join government at half my pay. My private sector boss asked what he could do to make me stay, but I was determined to "make a difference" and left to work for the government.

Too bad your impressive 18-month stint at a single job was filled with so many losers (according to you). In my 19-year career as a Fed working with people from many federal government intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies, I encountered so many bright, productive, and talented people. My own Agency recruited only the best and brightest of applicants -- people with the highest GPA's from the most prestigious universities, people with the best credentials from private industry and the military. We accepted less than 0.5% of the qualified applicants who applied -- but sure, those top 0.5% we took from places like Harvard and Yale must have all been washouts and losers. There are losers anywhere you go, and I encountered just as many in my years working in private industry, along with the innumerable government contractors (i.e, private company workers) I came across daily.
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BTDretire

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2017, 08:50:34 AM »
How Generous Are Federal Employee Pensions?
http://www.aei.org/publication/how-generous-are-federal-employee-pensions/

"Federal...for a total retirement income of $57,834. In addition, the federal employee would have whatever income his own TSP contributions generated.

The private sector worker would have a Social Security benefit of around $21,656, plus an annuity payment drawn from his employerís 401(k) contributions of around $4,175 per year. The total retirement income would be around $25,832, plus whatever he received through his own 401(k) contributions. To make things simple, $25,832/$57,834 = around 45 percent, so the private sector worker clearly is receiving far less.".

  http://www.aei.org/publication/how-generous-are-federal-employee-pensions/

L.A.S.

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2017, 09:54:51 AM »
How Generous Are Federal Employee Pensions?
http://www.aei.org/publication/how-generous-are-federal-employee-pensions/

"Federal...for a total retirement income of $57,834. In addition, the federal employee would have whatever income his own TSP contributions generated.

The private sector worker would have a Social Security benefit of around $21,656, plus an annuity payment drawn from his employerís 401(k) contributions of around $4,175 per year. The total retirement income would be around $25,832, plus whatever he received through his own 401(k) contributions. To make things simple, $25,832/$57,834 = around 45 percent, so the private sector worker clearly is receiving far less.".

  http://www.aei.org/publication/how-generous-are-federal-employee-pensions/

Again only because you choose to compare apples to oranges. 

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2017, 10:14:54 AM »
I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat... The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment.

How insulting.

And so untrue as a broad, ridiculous over-generalization. Your assessment as government workers being the "bottom of the labor pool" and "washouts from the private sector" is demonstrably false in addition to being insulting. I am just one example, having given up a lucrative and successful career in private industry to join government at half my pay. My private sector boss asked what he could do to make me stay, but I was determined to "make a difference" and left to work for the government.

Too bad your impressive 18-month stint at a single job was filled with so many losers (according to you). In my 19-year career as a Fed working with people from many federal government intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies, I encountered so many bright, productive, and talented people. My own Agency recruited only the best and brightest of applicants -- people with the highest GPA's from the most prestigious universities, people with the best credentials from private industry and the military. We accepted less than 0.5% of the qualified applicants who applied -- but sure, those top 0.5% we took from places like Harvard and Yale must have all been washouts and losers. There are losers anywhere you go, and I encountered just as many in my years working in private industry, along with the innumerable government contractors (i.e, private company workers) I came across daily.

My generalization is completely fair.  There are some talented people working for the government.  In some departments, most might be talented.  However, bureaucrats have the reputation they've earned and they know it.  I visited a government customer one time and he - one of the talented ones - remarked out-of-the-blue how government employees "do not have the greatest reputation."  Also, the fact that there's talent at the government does not mean it's used efficiently.  You brought up 'intelligence' agencies as an example.  Many would agree their output has not been the greatest over the past couple of decades.  An incident in 2003 comes to mind, amongst many others.  Nowadays, better intelligence is available from open sources.  The satellites don't show much in urban terrain.  Scott Locklin is probably a good resource to learn about the failures of government science.   

You took a 50% raw pay cut to work for the government, but the true pay cut was much smaller factoring in the cost of health care and your pension rewards. 

You also touched on another problem with government employees: their belief in credentials as qualifications or real-world experience.  Having a piece of paper and a good GPA does not mean you're going to make a good engineer.  In fact, some of the best ones we have went to State U or started out on the production line.  People who are good at takign tests are often helpless in the lab.  I'm unimpressed that you have Harvard grads at work.  The fact is that most of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton grads (HYP) go into finance.  70% go into finance because that's where the money is.  Then there are the Zuckerbergs who *might* go into STEM with some help from the Winklevoss'.  Even of those HYP grads you select, you sound like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel. 

Slee_stack

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2017, 10:47:40 AM »
Testy topic.

Again, my Fed DW has commented more times than I can count at the useless co-workers and other government minions she must associate with daily.

Yes, there are useless people everywhere.  There tends to be a larger attraction within the government though.  There's more than a little similarity to traditional Unions going on.

Unions have never been about efficiency or hard work.  The once-upon ideal was great... the reality, not-so-much.  Unions tend to protect poor performance and provide zero incentive to be a better performer.  Sound like government?

Because government salaries aren't tied to the free market, over-compensation is far more likely than somewhere in the private sector.  A private company will (or should) fail if the workforce is significantly overpaid.  A government can simply tax more. 

At some point the citizens will get too fed up.  No pun intended.

Do private sector folks not get their (rare and/or paltry) pensions cut?  Or get fired for inadequate performance?  Or pay more and more for healthcare every year?  Or get retirement matches dropped, or whatever?

Why should a government worker be 'exempt' from any of this? 


It would be great if everyone made amazing salaries and were millionaires.  But actually that wouldn't be great, it'd be the same.  Some will always gain at another's expense. 

I think most would believe that the gov't worker hasn't had to carry their fair share of financial burdens when compared to everyone else.

As taxpayers we are also given no choice but to foot the bill for it too.  Its a double whammy.


I guess I'm numb to a cry of 'no fair' from gov't workers. 

I recognize that its fun to be on the gravy train and that it sucks when someone mentions they want a spoonful of that gravy back.  Welcome to reality.

I'm not sure the federal government has an overall 'quality' problem.  I think 'quantity' is the much bigger issues to address.

As a last aside, are other federal employees really complaining about their salary?? Hoo boy.  Hey, I'm the first to admit...I chose the wrong sector!!!
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 10:51:59 AM by Slee_stack »

mm1970

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2017, 11:10:51 AM »
This is a difficult topic because there's really no way to make a straight up comparison.

Public sector jobs (Federal, State, County, City), in my experience, are much more highly paid than private (on average). 

You can pull up "average" data and say that you aren't comparing apples to apples, that the Fed jobs are harder and require more skill - but is that really true?

I don't know the answer to that because there are literally millions of people all over the country on the Federal rolls, and county and state.  I'm quite sure it varies a lot by agency, state, job, etc.

I worked with a lot of Fed employees when I was in the military, and they were top notch.  But they were STEM/ high tech.  And those friends of mine who stayed in and transitioned are living pretty large right now.  Their paycheck is on average a bit higher than the private counterparts.  Bennies are much much better.  However, I also worked with a lot of administrative staff who were still there because it was really hard to fire people.  The only reason we were able to get rid of our secretary was to promote her to be someone else's problem.

Now, I'm a bit of a dinosaur - so to be honest, I don't even know if they HAVE secretaries anymore.  Our office of about 20-30 people had 3 to 4.  Because we wrote letters.  And they got typed up, on actual typewriters (though everyone had a PC within my first year).  So I had to have the secretary type my correspondence.  I'm guessing that they don't do that anymore.

Same thing goes with our local government.  Some of our local folks are top notch. Some of them get their family in (nepotism), some people get arrested for stealing a couple of million dollars.  We have sheriffs that retire at 50 with full medical coverage and $150k pensions for the rest of their lives.

So, in some cases, Fed employees are living high on the hog in retirement when they REALLY weren't "underpaid compared to the private sector".  (I have a few neighbors who fit that category and DON'T GET IT.)

In some cases, Fed employees (and local govt) really were underpaid, but chose to exchange that for security.  And their pensions aren't quite so generous.

Either way, whomever said it's a "race to the bottom" are totally right.

DoubleDown

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2017, 11:14:46 AM »
I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat... The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment.

How insulting.

And so untrue as a broad, ridiculous over-generalization. Your assessment as government workers being the "bottom of the labor pool" and "washouts from the private sector" is demonstrably false in addition to being insulting. I am just one example, having given up a lucrative and successful career in private industry to join government at half my pay. My private sector boss asked what he could do to make me stay, but I was determined to "make a difference" and left to work for the government.

Too bad your impressive 18-month stint at a single job was filled with so many losers (according to you). In my 19-year career as a Fed working with people from many federal government intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies, I encountered so many bright, productive, and talented people. My own Agency recruited only the best and brightest of applicants -- people with the highest GPA's from the most prestigious universities, people with the best credentials from private industry and the military. We accepted less than 0.5% of the qualified applicants who applied -- but sure, those top 0.5% we took from places like Harvard and Yale must have all been washouts and losers. There are losers anywhere you go, and I encountered just as many in my years working in private industry, along with the innumerable government contractors (i.e, private company workers) I came across daily.

My generalization is completely fair.  There are some talented people working for the government.  In some departments, most might be talented.  However, bureaucrats have the reputation they've earned and they know it.  I visited a government customer one time and he - one of the talented ones - remarked out-of-the-blue how government employees "do not have the greatest reputation."  Also, the fact that there's talent at the government does not mean it's used efficiently.  You brought up 'intelligence' agencies as an example.  Many would agree their output has not been the greatest over the past couple of decades.  An incident in 2003 comes to mind, amongst many others.  Nowadays, better intelligence is available from open sources.  The satellites don't show much in urban terrain.  Scott Locklin is probably a good resource to learn about the failures of government science.   

You took a 50% raw pay cut to work for the government, but the true pay cut was much smaller factoring in the cost of health care and your pension rewards. 

You also touched on another problem with government employees: their belief in credentials as qualifications or real-world experience.  Having a piece of paper and a good GPA does not mean you're going to make a good engineer.  In fact, some of the best ones we have went to State U or started out on the production line.  People who are good at takign tests are often helpless in the lab.  I'm unimpressed that you have Harvard grads at work.  The fact is that most of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton grads (HYP) go into finance.  70% go into finance because that's where the money is.  Then there are the Zuckerbergs who *might* go into STEM with some help from the Winklevoss'.  Even of those HYP grads you select, you sound like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Just ridiculous, and still insulting. I have no interest in further debating someone with such a limiting viewpoint, who thinks such generalizations are "completely fair."
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fattest_foot

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2017, 11:51:19 AM »
This is a difficult topic because there's really no way to make a straight up comparison.

Public sector jobs (Federal, State, County, City), in my experience, are much more highly paid than private (on average). 

You can pull up "average" data and say that you aren't comparing apples to apples, that the Fed jobs are harder and require more skill - but is that really true?

I don't know the answer to that because there are literally millions of people all over the country on the Federal rolls, and county and state.  I'm quite sure it varies a lot by agency, state, job, etc.

I worked with a lot of Fed employees when I was in the military, and they were top notch.  But they were STEM/ high tech.
And those friends of mine who stayed in and transitioned are living pretty large right now.  Their paycheck is on average a bit higher than the private counterparts.  Bennies are much much better.  However, I also worked with a lot of administrative staff who were still there because it was really hard to fire people.  The only reason we were able to get rid of our secretary was to promote her to be someone else's problem.

Now, I'm a bit of a dinosaur - so to be honest, I don't even know if they HAVE secretaries anymore.  Our office of about 20-30 people had 3 to 4.  Because we wrote letters.  And they got typed up, on actual typewriters (though everyone had a PC within my first year).  So I had to have the secretary type my correspondence.  I'm guessing that they don't do that anymore.

Same thing goes with our local government.  Some of our local folks are top notch. Some of them get their family in (nepotism), some people get arrested for stealing a couple of million dollars.  We have sheriffs that retire at 50 with full medical coverage and $150k pensions for the rest of their lives.

So, in some cases, Fed employees are living high on the hog in retirement when they REALLY weren't "underpaid compared to the private sector".  (I have a few neighbors who fit that category and DON'T GET IT.)

In some cases, Fed employees (and local govt) really were underpaid, but chose to exchange that for security.  And their pensions aren't quite so generous.

Either way, whomever said it's a "race to the bottom" are totally right.

I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets. These employees actually do generally make more than their private counterparts.

The professional and STEM employees are a small portion of the remaining workforce. Since most pay is capped out, it's generally lower than private sector. Having worked in contracting for a while, I can assure you that the private sector pays significantly better.

ooeei

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2017, 11:54:41 AM »
Quote
^ +1.  High skilled Feds such as medical researches and physicians, lawyers, and accountants make far less than their civilian counterparts.  And there are high skilled Feds (such as the ones working in my former organization) that have jobs that are of great importance to national security.  They go into harm's way risking life and limb to serve their country.  They earn salaries in the 80-150K range and rightfully so.  However, there are great savings that could be had in the federal budget by cutting 10-20 percent of the work force for non-essential jobs such as administrative and logistical positions.  I saw the waste in these areas in my own organization. It would sicken me to walk the halls and grounds of my organization's HQ and see the coffee drinking, smoking, and general bullshitting going on by those with too much time on their hands while collecting a federal paycheck. But renigging on the promise of pensions and availability to health care, which I and many others paid into, is unfair and wrong.  If these changes are to be made, then grandfather those already under the current system and make it policy for new hires.

I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat and my observations and those of some of the managers were that 75% of the people could be let go with no loss in productivity.  The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment.  My pay, btw, is much higher in the private sector now, but so is my work output and my value.  At the government, I had only 3 real days of work a month.  The rest of the time was spent going to meetings or fooling around on the computer.  Any of my attempts to make anything run more efficiently - such as automating our testing - were attacked with indifference and "lack of funding" though they always seem to have funding to hire more people.  The government always wants to hire more people just to have them sit in an office somewhere.  The lady in the cubicle next to me ran cat adoptions all day out of her government cubicle.  Others spent the day hiding from their real jobs.  One guy day-traded all day.  Another ran an online gambling ring.  So many of the employees weren't even born in this country making me wonder why we couldn't at least find bureaucrats with English skills.  Cutting the government workforce or benefits won't harm its efficiency at all - quite the contrary.  Fear of losing their jobs will cause actual productivity just like it does in the private sector.  The truth is that all of the good people in the government have already left for the private sector which rewards good work while the government does not.  Most bureaucrats feel threatened by good workers tipping the apple cart.  There is a 'waste/fraud/abuse' hotline to call, but should I have called it on the entire installation?         

The behavior of government employees was unbelievably puerile and entitled.  They were constantly complaining about threats to job security though there were none since they couldn't be fired. I suspect this is because they all knew they did nothing for a living and couldn't make it a minute in the private sector.  They also whined about their benefits which, as posted above, are far higher than the private sector counting their pensions and medical care.  I paid almost nothing for the delivery of my first son.  My subsequent children cost me about $7k out of pocket. 

The OP is an example of this entitlement mentality.  Her benefits are far, far higher than she'd get in the private sector already but it's not enough and UHHHHHH, she has to work for another Republican.  About 90% of bureaucrats vote Democrat.  Wonder why?

Several years after I left, I ran into another guy at my same company who used to work where I did.  He left about the same time after about the same amount of time there.  He assessment of the situation is identical to mine.

The funny thing is, you could make this exact same post but replace "government" with any other large industry and it would still be accurate. I work in a STEM position for a large oil/gas company, and as with most of these companies we reduced our workforce 50% over the last few years during the downturn with basically no loss of productivity. That is to say, about 50% of the people working here had little/no impact on the business. The guy in the office next to mine literally just walked around to other people's offices and chatted with them all day every day, I never saw him do any work at all, and he wasted 8 hours a day of other peoples' time.

At my last job at a large medical manufacturing company I literally ran out of things to do, and despite asking for more just ended up reading shit on the internet until I finally got so bored I left. There were numerous people who'd been at that facility for over 20 years and I'm pretty sure had never actually done anything. They were paying college engineering grads to transfer data from one excel sheet into another and format it, for weeks at a time. My roommate at the time who worked there making >$60,000 a year didn't even usually go in to work until 10 or so and left at 330 on a long day.

Waste is inherent in large organizations where the person writing the checks and the person whose bank account the checks come out of are too far removed from each other. One advantage some (but not all) private sectors have is occasional business downturns that force them to purge some of the waste. Oil/gas has that every decade or two, medical not so much.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2017, 12:18:40 PM »
Perhaps persons who feels strongly about this should start their own thread relating to "entitled federal employees."  Please allow me to get back to the question: 

Have any other feds reached out to their representatives about this and what was the response?

pbnj

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2017, 01:54:47 PM »
With all due respect OP, you did not ask that question originally; you asked do we discuss or just whine. 

FWIW, I, too have served my employer for decades.  I will not get a pension, healthcare, etc.  Each year the cost of my insurance goes up and so do my out of pocket costs.  Rarely since 2007 have we received a cost of living increase .  It is what it is.  Whatever you will get post-retirement, take it and say thank you as many of us get nothing, or leave it on the table then you are allowed to continue to whine.

Scortius

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2017, 02:11:37 PM »
With all due respect OP, you did not ask that question originally; you asked do we discuss or just whine. 

FWIW, I, too have served my employer for decades.  I will not get a pension, healthcare, etc.  Each year the cost of my insurance goes up and so do my out of pocket costs.  Rarely since 2007 have we received a cost of living increase .  It is what it is.  Whatever you will get post-retirement, take it and say thank you as many of us get nothing, or leave it on the table then you are allowed to continue to whine.

That's an awfully whiney response of your own. Given that people here believe in the free market, if you wanted the generous salary and benefits of a government position, I'm guessing you agree that you could have simply applied for one. Once you were offered such a job, I'm sure the benefits portion of your accepted job offer would be considered part of the mutual contract of your employment, and thus you would feel that you would have the right to receive what you and your employer had agreed upon as part of your compensation package negotiated for in good faith.

Given that you took a different job and agreed upon a compensation package with your own employer, I'm sure you are satisfied that you also received what you were entitled to in return for your labor.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2017, 03:37:27 PM »
I worked for 18 months as a STEM bureaucrat and my observations and those of some of the managers were that 75% of the people could be let go with no loss in productivity.  The government tends to attract the bottom end of the labor pool in any job - washouts from the private sector with low people skills and job skills, so they're still overpaid compared to a private-sector skills assessment.  My pay, btw, is much higher in the private sector now, but so is my work output and my value.  At the government, I had only 3 real days of work a month.  The rest of the time was spent going to meetings or fooling around on the computer.  Any of my attempts to make anything run more efficiently - such as automating our testing - were attacked with indifference and "lack of funding" though they always seem to have funding to hire more people.  The government always wants to hire more people just to have them sit in an office somewhere.  The lady in the cubicle next to me ran cat adoptions all day out of her government cubicle.  Others spent the day hiding from their real jobs.  One guy day-traded all day.  Another ran an online gambling ring.  So many of the employees weren't even born in this country making me wonder why we couldn't at least find bureaucrats with English skills.  Cutting the government workforce or benefits won't harm its efficiency at all - quite the contrary.

Wow!

If you need a hamster wheel of constant work just get a lateral transfer over to the Patent Office. You could fire 75% of our workforce and watch the backlog go from 16 months to probably 100 months by the end of 2018.

Also, next time I am turning down a recruiter from a boutique law firm or one of the big law firms, I'll be sure to add that they shouldn't bother trying to steal me away from the office anymore since I'm just bottom of the barrel anyway.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2017, 03:40:53 PM »
Several items of note brought to my attention recently; one, the presidents proposed changes to our retirement system (effective 2018, so no grandfathering current employees):

https://federalnewsradio.com/retirement/2017/05/trumps-proposed-retirement-changes-would-have-major-impacts-on-current-feds-and-retirees/

TLDR version:  You are going to pay more, and they are planning to get rid of COLA...thanks boss!

And then this little doozy...

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ne7zgw/trumps-quiet-campaign-against-government-workers

and this...

http://www.govexec.com/management/2017/09/white-house-demands-training-every-federal-employee-consequences-leaks/141197/

What I glean from all of this is that despite the fact that many of us served several decades (and under previous Repub administrations), we are members of the "deep state" and are of little to no value to our CIC. 

Shall we discuss or just whine?  What can be done about the proposed changes to our retirement system or is it just too late?  Has this already been discussed ad nauseum (sp) and I just missed it?

I'm hoping nothing comes of it or best case scenario they just hit the newer hires with the increased pension costs.

If the pension increase is retroactive we'll be fine, but I may go to private sector instead of taking the potential 5.2% decrease in pay combined with the G fund being killed.  I'd only have grind it out for 3-4 years practicing at a private firm rather than the 9 more I plan for with the govt (based on differences in pay).

SoundFuture

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2017, 04:13:35 PM »
Unfortunately things such as this end up being best resolved when NO ONE IS HAPPY.  The reality of everyone being unhappy is simply a hard-fought compromise. I'm not going to like it, you're not going to like it, they're not going to like it either, but it's the way it's going to be.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2017, 04:53:57 PM »
DW is a government lawyer, so I speak from experience.  Her compensation is awesome.  Not from the dollars, but from the benefits. 

1.  Awesome health insurance
2.  Awesome 401k (TSP) with match
3.  Pension
4.  Generous time off policy
5.  Great work life balance most of the time
6.  Decent salary (half way up the GS15 scale)

At this rate, her pension is going to be 30-40k a year in today's dollars, and that's assuming she can't get on the SES scale.  On top of her SS.  On top of her TSP which will likely have 7 figures in it by the time she retires.   If her retirement is 40-50 years that pension is worth millions.

Could she make more as a private lawyer?  In dollars, probably, but she would have no work life balance. 

With respect to the competence of government employees, both her and I  (when I worked for the government) saw the entire range of quality.  It's unfair to say government employees are typically bad, but there is a significant portion that give the rest a bad name.  And in the government its very hard to get rid of people.

In my field the way the government develops software is just ass-backwards.  The way the contracts are written, contractors are incentivized to build in complexity and have crappy developers work on thing, since they get paid by the hour.  Things that should take weeks or months end up taking months or years, and cost 10x what they should.   

I look at the F35 program, and they say things like some part of the software needs 6 million lines of code.  As a software developer that has me scratching my head.  How do they know that?  How do they know if they haven't implemented the functionality?  Every line of code you write is a liability.  Having 6 million lines of code is 6 million liabilities.  I am not on the inside so I don't know for sure, but it sure seems fishy.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 04:56:18 PM by starguru »

wenchsenior

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2017, 09:09:39 AM »
Generally, I think quality of gov't employees varies wildly by sector.  In the research science sectors at least, there are relatively few support staff; very advanced training, skills, education, and credentials required to get the jobs; and high performance required to advance notably in salary (which is capped at the high end anyway). Some of the science oriented positions don't really have comps in the private market. Where you can do direct comps, the high skilled gov't employees tend to be paid less than the private market, with the benefits making up the difference (more or less).  At the lower end of the skill scale, workers probably are paid better than the private market.

To the OP's questions.  I'm not hugely upset about the past decade's tiny or nonexistent COL increases, given the recession and slow recovery.  And I wouldn't mind an increase in employee contribution to pensions, although I would want it phased in over much longer, so that it wouldn't completely eat up the above-mentioned tiny COL increases (e.g., .25% increase per year).  Going to high 5 versus high  3 retirement would be annoying, but would not affect pensions as much as changing the COL increase for the pension to chained CPI or similar.  That latter would be a blow.

Such changes have been proposed under most GOP controlled congresses since the 1980s, and so far only new hires have been hit with changes.   More than 30 years of threats and not much is different... but you never know.

Also, Congressional benefits (and annual raises) are (essentially) the same as civilian Feds, with the exception that they are subject to the ACA and are not covered under the civilian Federal health insurance program.  Therefore any changes they make will bite their own benefits.  I suspect this is the reason the system isn't tinkered with more often.

We have never bothered lobbying our representatives on this... they are hardcore tea party anti government people.   If legislation looks likely to pass, we would lobby.  It would be pointless, though.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2017, 09:35:48 AM »
To the OP's questions.  I'm not hugely upset about the past decade's tiny or nonexistent COL increases, given the recession and slow recovery.
Agreed...they made sense given what was going on in the broader economy.

And I wouldn't mind an increase in employee contribution to pensions, although I would want it phased in over much longer, so that it wouldn't completely eat up the above-mentioned tiny COL increases (e.g., .25% increase per year).  Going to high 5 versus high  3 retirement would be annoying, but would not affect pensions as much as changing the COL increase for the pension to chained CPI or similar.  That latter would be a blow.
Also agreed...but I'm early enough in my RE plans that I can recover with 1 or 2 OMY's.  However, for those who were planning to retire in 2018 or 2019 (or folks who have already been retired for a bit), this has got to be an alarming development (as current strategy shows immediate deletion of COLA). 

Such changes have been proposed under most GOP controlled congresses since the 1980s, and so far only new hires have been hit with changes.   More than 30 years of threats and not much is different... but you never know.

Also, Congressional benefits (and annual raises) are (essentially) the same as civilian Feds, with the exception that they are subject to the ACA and are not covered under the civilian Federal health insurance program.  Therefore any changes they make will bite their own benefits.  I suspect this is the reason the system isn't tinkered with more often.

We have never bothered lobbying our representatives on this... they are hardcore tea party anti government people.   If legislation looks likely to pass, we would lobby.  It would be pointless, though.
Thank you for your response...there are folks here (close to retirement) that are especially alarmed about the idea of the SSI supplement going away, but I'm not getting too excited about that because it always seemed excessive to me; on the other hand, it was a promised benefit.  If I were on the cusp of retiring and a large component of my planned retirement got deleted...I'd be pretty alarmed too.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2017, 10:13:42 AM »
What's this about killing the G fund?

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2017, 10:42:27 AM »
I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets.

You have this exactly backwards.  Compared to the economy at large, the federal workforce has a proportionately much smaller number of burger flippers and retail workers, and a much bigger proportion of scientists and lawyers.  Oh so many lawyers.

There are a lot of janitors for all of those federal facilities, but most of those are private contract workers now, not feds themselves.

Think about the services the federal government provides, compared to the services the rest of the economy provides, and reconsider your assertion about the required education and skill level of the federal workforce.  This disparity is the reason why federal pay is higher than average per employee, and yet lower than average per job type.  There are a lot of underpaid people in high paying professions working for you.  You're welcome.

BFGirl

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2017, 11:13:44 AM »
I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets.

You have this exactly backwards.  Compared to the economy at large, the federal workforce has a proportionately much smaller number of burger flippers and retail workers, and a much bigger proportion of scientists and lawyers.  Oh so many lawyers.

There are a lot of janitors for all of those federal facilities, but most of those are private contract workers now, not feds themselves.

Think about the services the federal government provides, compared to the services the rest of the economy provides, and reconsider your assertion about the required education and skill level of the federal workforce.  This disparity is the reason why federal pay is higher than average per employee, and yet lower than average per job type.  There are a lot of underpaid people in high paying professions working for you.  You're welcome.

This for state and local as well.  I'm a government attorney with 23 years experience and 15 years in government.  I make high 5 figures after 15 years.  I know for a fact that many of my counterparts in private practice make way more than I do.

SoundFuture

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2017, 11:50:36 AM »
This for state and local as well.  I'm a government attorney with 23 years experience and 15 years in government.  I make high 5 figures after 15 years.  I know for a fact that many of my counterparts in private practice make way more than I do.

My sister has about 10 years in state government. She makes $100k salary (public information) but also never works more than maybe 45 hours a week.  She has four kids and my mom and I play baby sitter, so I know every time she has a work commitment. I would LOVE to have a job that had that kind of pay with that kind of work-life balance.

BFGirl

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2017, 01:03:09 PM »
This for state and local as well.  I'm a government attorney with 23 years experience and 15 years in government.  I make high 5 figures after 15 years.  I know for a fact that many of my counterparts in private practice make way more than I do.

My sister has about 10 years in state government. She makes $100k salary (public information) but also never works more than maybe 45 hours a week.  She has four kids and my mom and I play baby sitter, so I know every time she has a work commitment. I would LOVE to have a job that had that kind of pay with that kind of work-life balance.

I chose lower pay than the private sector so that I could have work/life balance. 

Scortius

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2017, 01:33:47 PM »
That's the thing I don't get about some of these complaints.  It seems like the people most against government labor are those that do believe in the power of the free market. Except, the labor market is mostly free and these 'cushy' government jobs are pretty much accessible to any qualified individual who wants to apply.  Further, most government jobs of this type do pay less than their industry counterparts, but generally compensate for this by offering better benefits and a better work-life balance. I guess I just don't understand what all this complaining is about... the criticisms and complains don't seem to be internally consistent.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2017, 02:14:23 PM »
That's the thing I don't get about some of these complaints.  It seems like the people most against government labor are those that do believe in the power of the free market. Except, the labor market is mostly free and these 'cushy' government jobs are pretty much accessible to any qualified individual who wants to apply.  Further, most government jobs of this type do pay less than their industry counterparts, but generally compensate for this by offering better benefits and a better work-life balance. I guess I just don't understand what all this complaining is about... the criticisms and complains don't seem to be internally consistent.

OMG this.  Whenever someone complained about my husband's prior job, he'd say "hey, they are hiring, want me to send you a link?"  The answer was generally a disgusted no.  "Oh, so I guess it isn't that easy and cushy then, huh?"

JoJo

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2017, 05:19:17 PM »
I haven't read this whole thread but have worked at a couple companies that have totally stopped pensions.

I think benefits for govt jobs should be benchmarked to industry.  At some point, once say less than X% of private industry offers a certain benefit, then the governement jobs should do the same.  This especially includes elected officials. 

What X should be is up for debate.  I think 20% is reasonable.  What happens when all private companies have done away with defined benefit pensions.  Why does government get to keep it just because they've always had it.

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #45 on: September 27, 2017, 09:21:21 PM »
I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets.

You have this exactly backwards.  Compared to the economy at large, the federal workforce has a proportionately much smaller number of burger flippers and retail workers, and a much bigger proportion of scientists and lawyers.  Oh so many lawyers.

There are a lot of janitors for all of those federal facilities, but most of those are private contract workers now, not feds themselves.

Think about the services the federal government provides, compared to the services the rest of the economy provides, and reconsider your assertion about the required education and skill level of the federal workforce.  This disparity is the reason why federal pay is higher than average per employee, and yet lower than average per job type.  There are a lot of underpaid people in high paying professions working for you.  You're welcome.

Working backwards from the bottom of your post, several people on here have documented how the benefits more-or-less make up for the raw pay. 

What Federal services are my tax dollars paying for that are better than those of, say, a tradesman or a construction worker?  What percentage of federal employees are providing services that I use versus writing regulations?  Even in the case of federal scientists, how many are working on science versus writing proposals or regulations?  Of those working on raw science, how many of these programs have any promise? In the case of the latter, the government has done some amazing science in the past.  We can now blow up the earth, for example, because of our nuclear weapons research.  There was ARPAnet and CDMA.  These programs are decades past.  Beyond sponsoring some device research, what have they done in recent memory?


Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #46 on: September 27, 2017, 09:31:13 PM »
I haven't read this whole thread but have worked at a couple companies that have totally stopped pensions.

I think benefits for govt jobs should be benchmarked to industry.  At some point, once say less than X% of private industry offers a certain benefit, then the governement jobs should do the same.  This especially includes elected officials. 

What X should be is up for debate.  I think 20% is reasonable.  What happens when all private companies have done away with defined benefit pensions.  Why does government get to keep it just because they've always had it.

Why are these employees are never subject to layoffs whether the economy is up or down? Why is the number of government employees continually growing absent a demonstrable need to the point where federal spending is about 30% of GDP?  In 1913, government spending was was 3% of GDP.  Some people on here say, "Well, you can just get a government job yourself!" No, everyone cannot work for the public sector.  Illinois is proving this is true, and California is close on its heels.  The private sector needs tax and regulatory relief to start growing again.  We are also $20 trillion in debt. 

I am glad to hear that some parts of our government are staffed with good people who mean well and, to the extent that my experience was atypical, I apologize for what I said earlier.  The bad government employees need to be subject to layoffs just like the rest of us.  Some whole sectors need to be pared off completely.     

Scortius

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #47 on: September 27, 2017, 09:59:31 PM »
I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets.

You have this exactly backwards.  Compared to the economy at large, the federal workforce has a proportionately much smaller number of burger flippers and retail workers, and a much bigger proportion of scientists and lawyers.  Oh so many lawyers.

There are a lot of janitors for all of those federal facilities, but most of those are private contract workers now, not feds themselves.

Think about the services the federal government provides, compared to the services the rest of the economy provides, and reconsider your assertion about the required education and skill level of the federal workforce.  This disparity is the reason why federal pay is higher than average per employee, and yet lower than average per job type.  There are a lot of underpaid people in high paying professions working for you.  You're welcome.

Working backwards from the bottom of your post, several people on here have documented how the benefits more-or-less make up for the raw pay. 

What Federal services are my tax dollars paying for that are better than those of, say, a tradesman or a construction worker?  What percentage of federal employees are providing services that I use versus writing regulations?  Even in the case of federal scientists, how many are working on science versus writing proposals or regulations?  Of those working on raw science, how many of these programs have any promise? In the case of the latter, the government has done some amazing science in the past.  We can now blow up the earth, for example, because of our nuclear weapons research.  There was ARPAnet and CDMA.  These programs are decades past.  Beyond sponsoring some device research, what have they done in recent memory?

A lot of these questions have answers that you could easily look up yourself.  A very small proportion of government employees 'write regulations'... I mean, come on.

If you don't know much about scientific work being done by government employees, well, again, it's easy to look around.  You may not be as interested in the research being done by the FDA or the EPA, but you may find some cool stuff coming out of the DOE.  You can probably guess that there's research being done at the NSA, the DOD, DHS, and the DOE that you have no idea about, but is probably 'worth your hard earned tax dollars'.  If you don't know what the government has contributed to basic science beyond nuclear weapons and 'some device research', you may want to take some time to look around.

This of course ignores all of the many competent employees in every day regular non-scientific posts that you never hear about because they keep your world running smoothly.

Just what entire sections of the government are you ready to chop off? You may be surprised at the depth of the services they provide and how those services positively impact your specific day-to-day life.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 10:01:08 PM by Scortius »

sparkytheop

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #48 on: September 27, 2017, 10:08:03 PM »
A lot of this was brought up back in November last year.  Most have had a "wait and see" attitude, since cutting everything has always been a threat.  In my 17 years, we've only been hit by the pay freeze (well, after getting delayed at hiring due to one of the hiring freezes, which happen frequently).  Newer hires have come in having to pay more into their pension, but changes have only affected new hires, so far.  Hopefully that continues to be the case.  I don't think it's right for private industry to go back on their word or hiring contracts, and I don't think it's right for the government to do it either.  Change the rules for people coming in, but not those who based their career choices on promises made earlier.

As for staffing...  When I was the acting foreman for an electric shop, I could have, and would have gladly, ran the shop off 1/3 of the current crew.  The good workers had different skills and solid work ethics, and everything that needed to be done could be performed by these select few.  The other 2/3 were a waste.  They botched jobs that had to be redone.  They were lazy.  They couldn't/wouldn't perform the most basic tasks.  If we could have gotten rid of them, the shop would have run more smoothly and morale would actually improve (after a while, it sucks to be the hard worker when the laziest, most incompetent person makes as much as you do).  I'm at a new location, and no longer an electrician, but I see the same situation in this electrical crew.  We could easily cut half of maintenance and do great.  My crew is already at minimum staff (we have to cover the place 24/7, to put out fires--both literally and figuratively, and have the smallest crew we can have without requiring scheduled overtime).  We don't want more on our crew, and are pretty happy with the people we have.

Scortius

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #49 on: September 27, 2017, 10:10:44 PM »
I haven't read this whole thread but have worked at a couple companies that have totally stopped pensions.

I think benefits for govt jobs should be benchmarked to industry.  At some point, once say less than X% of private industry offers a certain benefit, then the governement jobs should do the same.  This especially includes elected officials. 

What X should be is up for debate.  I think 20% is reasonable.  What happens when all private companies have done away with defined benefit pensions.  Why does government get to keep it just because they've always had it.

Why are these employees are never subject to layoffs whether the economy is up or down? Why is the number of government employees continually growing absent a demonstrable need to the point where federal spending is about 30% of GDP?  In 1913, government spending was was 3% of GDP.  Some people on here say, "Well, you can just get a government job yourself!" No, everyone cannot work for the public sector.  Illinois is proving this is true, and California is close on its heels.  The private sector needs tax and regulatory relief to start growing again.  We are also $20 trillion in debt. 

I am glad to hear that some parts of our government are staffed with good people who mean well and, to the extent that my experience was atypical, I apologize for what I said earlier.  The bad government employees need to be subject to layoffs just like the rest of us.  Some whole sectors need to be pared off completely.     

I agree with you that the government makes it overly hard to lay off poor employees.  I honestly don't know why that's the case. As far as the rest, again, those questions can be pretty easily answered.

A lot has changed since 1913.  Specifically, we fought 2 World Wars and expanded our military spending to the point where we support a military stronger than the rest of the world combined. Social security, Medicare, and Medicaid were added to the government as well. Defense and 'entitlements' are going to explain a majority of that jump.

Are you saying that California and Illinois are in trouble because they employ too many state workers? Illinois has a lot of issues, but one of their immediate troubles was due to their current Governor refusing to raise state taxes.  California has high taxes, but it doesn't seem to be slowing the tech industry down one bit.

We are $20 trillion in debt, but it's contentious to pin down exactly where that shortfall is coming from.  Yes the government is large and shrinking it is a noble goal.  You mentioned cutting departments out, which ones did you have in mind? Beyond that, I don't see how your desire to lower taxes is going to help fix that national debt. Rather, the economy seems to be humming along pretty well right now by all indications, thus I don't see how corporations are really in desperate need of regulatory and tax relief.