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Old 10-19-2008, 07:42 AM   #61
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Since I'm getting answers to questions I did not raise,
some folks are making false assumptions about how I view MegaCorps inevitable actions re: pensions/health care benefits, and
some folks aren't acknowledging where the revenues to pay SS/Fed benefits come from...

I'm done...
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:11 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by restonham View Post
Sounds a lot like sour grapes from those who could have worked for the federal government or the military but decided to opt for the higher salaries in private industry. Unless my math is off, midpack has worked 31 years in private industry. Somewhere in the middle of his career his company, as did many others, changed the benefit package. I know folks in the private sector who have sat in the same office for 30 years and worked for 5 or 6 different companies. Each with a different benefit package. They could have left, but decided to stay - it couldn't have been that bad.
Keep in mind that 20-30 years ago when many of us were making career decisions, things like security in health care plans and pensions wasn't nearly the issue it is now. I suspect that if many people saw the steadily increasing gap between public and private sector benefits, they may have well chosen another way. And for many of us, it's mostly too late to revisit that decision now.

Plus, this much ballyhooed gap between salaries in government and the private sector is just not what it used to be. Many private sector workers (myself included) haven't had a "raise" that even matches the COLA for years -- in my case, probably not since 2000. That's gone a long way toward closing that gap -- before even considering the value of benefits.

I don't want to sound like sour grapes but if this trend continues, there will eventually be too much resentment for it to continue as the majority of people in the private sector pay more and more and more in taxes to support the retirement and benefits they have an ever-decreasing chance to get themselves. As more and more state and local governments start going under at least in part because of exploding health insurance and pension obligations for retirees and *everyone* pays higher taxes for it, it's going to start somewhere, someday. I just don't know where or when. I just hope it doesn't go back on any promises that have already been made.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:22 AM   #63
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I think career Officers & NCO's as well as career federal civil servants in the United States should be well compensated & have a good benefits & retirement package & we should seek to attract the best & the brightest, don't you?

What we need to do is downsize the federal government & quit sending our military off into unwinnable conflicts - then reform Social Security - not cut benefits for current retirees.

Recall my previous post that the 5.8% COLA (subject of this thread) is for SS recipients & military & CSRS retirees - not active workers/military.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:33 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Since I'm getting answers to questions I did not raise,
some folks are making false assumptions about how I view MegaCorps inevitable actions re: pensions/health care benefits, and
some folks aren't acknowledging where the revenues to pay SS/Fed benefits come from...
Same place the US gets the funds to pay for the DoD budget, the national parks, dams, flood relief, all the aid and subsidies that go to pretty much everyone, everywhere in the US, etc. State and local govs are the same - education, police, fire, etc. I don't think anyone has forgotten all this comes from taxes. My issue is why do you single out SS and civil service/military retirees? If you want to be fair, then cut everything by the same amount - let's say nothing, no matter how important, aids or cancer research, education, farm subsidies, whatever - none of them get an increase of more than 2%. That's sounds a lot more fair.

But you and I know that all these constituencies will never allow their individual bennies to be touched. I agree that no one could be clairvoyant 30 or 35 years ago and know how badly companies would start treating people, but the changes started over 20 years ago - plenty of time to find another job, so I don't think that's a good reason for staying with industry. Frankly, I believe it as and still is greed. The average fed nationwide makes about $70K a year. That may sound good to someone living in Minot, ND, but the folks on this forum expect to make to lot more so they can FIRE. Once again, you make your choices and you live with them. In high inflation years, fed and military salaries were held back to "Help the country whip inflation," in low inflation years, well, they just got low increases. And, if you are unaware, the federal retirement system changed in 1984 so drastically that employees hired after that date receive far less beneifts and a reduced inflation adjustment.

Sorry if your ox is being gored, but everyones knows where the money comes from - this 5.8% increase is tiny compared to the rest of the federal budget.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:33 AM   #65
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Keep in mind that 20-30 years ago when many of us were making career decisions, things like security in health care plans and pensions wasn't nearly the issue it is now.
To some people these weren't issues until lately when they developed problems that became newsworthy. However these sure were issues for a lot of us in the past when seeking employment, and benefits were exactly why I took my job as a federal employee, and why a couple of my relatives also became a federal employees in the 1950's-1970's.

It is hard for me to believe that anybody would not have considered the fact that federal employment and benefits were more secure than those in private industry if they bothered to think about it when seeking employment - - though I suppose it has always taken a cautious nature to even consider such things, just as right now it takes a cautious nature not to invest 100% in a single stock or annuity. Of course you might do quite well that way if the stock skyrocketed! Not my cup of tea, though.

20% of federal positions here in New Orleans remain unfilled despite heavy recruitment, due to low salaries. (Hey, there's a path to smaller government! ) If you are 57, you can take one of them and retire in 5 years with full health benefits and a small federal pension plus TSP and 5% match.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:33 AM   #66
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I think career Officers & NCO's as well as career federal civil servants in the United States should be well compensated & have a good benefits & retirement package & we should seek to attract the best & the brightest, don't you?
First of all, let's not equate paper-pushing federal bureaucrats with soldiers who are dodging bombs and bullets to keep us safe and (relatively) free. Not to demean other federal workers or their importance, but let's not compare them to folks being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Second of all, even if I accepted this, why should this not also apply to the private sector? If this were a good strategy to maximize efficiency of government, why aren't businesses also following that model? If "retaining the best and the brightest" is the overriding goal, AND if benefits are the way to do it, why wouldn't businesses do that and tear up their competition?

I guess I chimed in here because I'm just sick of the "if you don't like it, you should have went to work for the government" argument -- because it assumes we had crystal balls to know that the retirement security gap between pensions and 401(k) plans was going to mushroom in the next 2-3 decades, and it assumes we knew there was going to be a wholesale removal of things like retiree health insurance benefits in the private sector. I know I would have chosen differently if I knew how things would play out, but the usual argument assumes we have a crystal ball or we could turn back the clock and "undo" certain decisions. In that sense, it's like "blaming" us for putting money on the red when the wheel turned up black 20-30 years later.

I don't support taking anyone's current or promised existing benefits away. But I think we really have to rethink the promises we make to the next generation. States and cities are increasingly being strained by this, and I don't want this to get so serious in the future that it becomes a 'taxpayer revolt' which pits the public pension "haves" with the taxpaying "have nots" -- which could threaten the existing promises made to people already in the system, and that, IMO, would be wrong.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:38 AM   #67
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It is hard for me to believe that anybody would not have considered the fact that federal employment and benefits were more secure than those in private industry if they bothered to think about it when seeking employment
Yes, that is true -- even then, the added security and benefits were there, but the *degree* to which that security and those benefits would become more and more valuable -- dare I say almost critical to the ability to retire at all -- was easy to underestimate.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 10-19-2008, 09:42 AM   #68
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25 years ago I took on a federal career in full knowledge I would never get rich but have a relatively secure job with benefits as long as I did a good job. They even told me when I started "you'll never get rich". And they were right - I'm not.

25 years ago others I knew would not even consider a government job (some even sneered upon it), knowing they were more likely to "get rich" in business or private sector employment.

I'm happy for those who did, & sorry for those who didn't - but for those who didn't and wish to rain on my parade - I can't help but see "sour grapes"
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:42 AM   #69
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Yes, that is true -- even then, the added security and benefits were there, but the *degree* to which that security and those benefits would become more and more valuable -- dare I say almost critical to the ability to retire at all -- was easy to underestimate.
Not really!!! It was very easy for my relatives and me to envision businesses possibly failing one day, and that economies aren't always booming. It was also very easy for many wanting a high roller lifestyle to take a higher paying job in industry because they didn't want to think about icky possibilities and the fact that they were taking a gamble.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:48 AM   #70
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25 years ago I took on a federal career in full knowledge I would never get rich but have a relatively secure job with benefits as long as I did a good job. They even told me when I started "you'll never get rich". And they were right - I'm not.
Yeah, tell me about it! My colleagues in industry with equivalent qualifications or sometimes much less are earning six figures, which I will never see. Some of them were able to afford houses in California that are now worth millions even after the housing slump. I am happy for them but they made their choices and I made mine.

By the way, they are not into this "sour grapes" thing. In June when I was in DC meeting with them, they were asking me why I stayed with federal employment. I told them the benefits, and their response was yes, but if I would come and work for them I would be earning around $165K. Maybe in reality it would be less, but that is a lot more than I will ever earn.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:49 AM   #71
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20% of federal positions here in New Orleans remain unfilled despite heavy recruitment, due to low salaries. (Hey, there's a path to smaller government! ) If you are 57, you can take one of them and retire in 5 years with full health benefits and a small federal pension plus TSP and 5% match.
Unbelievable, I rest my case...
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:00 AM   #72
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Unbelievable, I rest my case...
It's amazing that despite this, nobody wants these jobs. The negative aspects of deciding to take one of these jobs are that the pay is low, the work is less than scintillating, the prestige is non-existent - - but benefits are part of the deal too. I guess they just aren't valued as highly as salaries by most.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:08 AM   #73
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First of all, let's not equate paper-pushing federal bureaucrats with soldiers who are dodging bombs and bullets to keep us safe and (relatively) free. Not to demean other federal workers or their importance, but let's not compare them to folks being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Who's doing that? The 5.8% (subject of this thread) applies to SS recipients, retired military, & CSRS civil service retirees alike. There's no comparison been made that I've seen in this thread as to anyone's "importance". (except in your post above)

Your thought there really seems to me just so much "flag waving" you're doing there to support your resentment of federal workers pay & benefits.

(BTW - military pay & benefits are waaaay better nowadays then when I was in.)

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Second of all, even if I accepted this, why should this not also apply to the private sector? If this were a good strategy to maximize efficiency of government, why aren't businesses also following that model? If "retaining the best and the brightest" is the overriding goal, AND if benefits are the way to do it, why wouldn't businesses do that and tear up their competition?
Good question - why aren't they? Some do. I've known a few spouses of federal co-workers with much better health insurance plans at their mega-corp s than we federal workers had under FEHBP. Some fully paid. Not to mention profit-sharing plans, vacation perks, company cars, etc, etc

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I guess I chimed in here because I'm just sick of the "if you don't like it, you should have went to work for the government" argument -- because it assumes we had crystal balls to know that the retirement security gap between pensions and 401(k) plans was going to mushroom in the next 2-3 decades, and it assumes we knew there was going to be a wholesale removal of things like retiree health insurance benefits in the private sector. I know I would have chosen differently if I knew how things would play out, but the usual argument assumes we have a crystal ball or we could turn back the clock and "undo" certain decisions. In that sense, it's like "blaming" us for putting money on the red when the wheel turned up black 20-30 years later.

Well, so sorry if you are "sick" of it. Perhaps federal employees are "sick" of being painted as just so many slugs on threads like this - undeserving of anything more than minimum wage & no benefits.

No offense, but your rant (above) truly seems to be so much sour grapes.

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I don't support taking anyone's current or promised existing benefits away. But I think we really have to rethink the promises we make to the next generation. States and cities are increasingly being strained by this, and I don't want this to get so serious in the future that it becomes a 'taxpayer revolt' which pits the public pension "haves" with the taxpaying "have nots" -- which could threaten the existing promises made to people already in the system, and that, IMO, would be wrong.
No argument there. Then why the animosity towards current workers & retirees?

Let's get rid of a bunch of federal programs, departments, earmarks, & handouts & ill-thought foreign entanglements & defense projects - then we can perhaps cut everyone's taxes - and keep a highly competent, well compensated, & trustworthy career civil service & career military.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:12 AM   #74
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20% of federal positions here in New Orleans remain unfilled despite heavy recruitment, due to low salaries. (Hey, there's a path to smaller government! ) If you are 57, you can take one of them and retire in 5 years with full health benefits and a small federal pension plus TSP and 5% match.
I always thought you couldn't apply for a federal job past the age of 37? I need to find the silly article that I read that from.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:17 AM   #75
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Not true. Age discrimination is illegal and the federal government hires plenty of people in their 50's, 60's, 70's, etc.

Edited to add: Actually, 37 is the AVERAGE age of newly hired federal employees. So, quite a few are older than that.

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/78xx/doc7..._Personnel.pdf
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:25 AM   #76
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Second of all, even if I accepted this, why should this not also apply to the private sector? If this were a good strategy to maximize efficiency of government, why aren't businesses also following that model? If "retaining the best and the brightest" is the overriding goal, AND if benefits are the way to do it, why wouldn't businesses do that and tear up their competition?
Wouldn't that be up to the business owner's discretion? They can choose to pay out more to take care of their employees or pocket the difference.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:28 AM   #77
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Second of all, even if I accepted this, why should this not also apply to the private sector? If this were a good strategy to maximize efficiency of government, why aren't businesses also following that model? If "retaining the best and the brightest" is the overriding goal, AND if benefits are the way to do it, why wouldn't businesses do that and tear up their competition?
Wouldn't that be up to the business owner's discretion? They can choose to pay out more to take care of their employees or pocket the difference. Maybe its more of a moral vs. greed thing than maximizing efficiency?
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:31 AM   #78
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Midpack , I feel your pain .My late husband was a engineer with the government . He took the job for the benefits after being laid off from Boeing . We both worked twenty years . I worked for a hospital while he worked for the government . Besides the huge differences in pensions and benefits ,the benefits while he was working were unbelievable . Snow days , sick days , many vacation days , every holiday known to man and much better health insurance than I had and much less stress than my job . If I could have I would have jumped on that bandwagon in a minute but there were no federal nursing jobs available .
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:45 AM   #79
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:23 AM   #80
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I always thought you couldn't apply for a federal job past the age of 37? I need to find the silly article that I read that from.
That's most Federal Law Enforcement (not all) with the age limit - it used to be 35 - it's sometimes waived

(Border Patrol has currently upped their age limit to 41 or 42 I think - having trouble recruiting enough qualified people who can do the job - hmmm, maybe if we cut their pay & benefits it would help with recruiting more of those:
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paper-pushing federal bureaucrats
out there on the border)
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