One of my frustrations in life is the general characterizations of career government workers as “public servants”. Don’t get me wrong. There are truly dedicated people in public life who’ve made real sacrifices in the service of their country. I exclude career military officials, law enforcement officials, and first responders generally from this conversation. They have chosen a line of work that demands selflessness and comes with the potential for maximum personal risk for the benefit of others. I’m talking about everyone else.
In January, during the partial government shutdown, I shared with you that the average household pays $15,200 for federal government services annually. Has anyone, at any point in their life who works for a federal agency been thanked for working hard to pay the taxes that pay them? $15,200 is a staggeringly high real cost to all of us to pay for the federal employees that man the 430-federal agencies at an average total cost of $128,000 per employee. Which takes me to my next point. How much do you earn? How about your family? For the average household, it’s about $60,000 per year. Less than half of what one federal government employee earns in total compensation annually.
As people like Kent and Taylor and insert career federal government employees here are lauded for political purposes by certain politicians, let me be clear about their work. Taylor’s military service excluded, it isn’t more important than yours. They aren’t more important than you. They aren’t inherently more honest or dignified and were it not for your hard work and taxes paid. They wouldn’t have their jobs which pay more than twice what you earn.
This is a teachable moment that’s worth illustrating outside of a federal government shutdown. All of us make this country go. Federal government officials are employees that we must pay for whether we personally can afford to or not. We are forced to put them, not even our own families first, by virtue of the federal tax code. Your work is every bit as important as theirs and they’re supposed to work for you, not the other way around. It’s just that we don’t effectively teach civics.
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