I periodically will make use of “most depressing” in the title of a column when sharing bad news.
But the DC area didn’t become wealthy by producing value. Instead, it’s rolling in money because of overpaid bureaucrats, fat-cat lobbyists, sleazy politicians, beltway-bandit contractors, and other grifters who have figured out how to hitch a ride on the federal gravy train.
Anyhow, here’s a tweet with the bad news (at least if you’re a serf elsewhere in America who is paying taxes to keep Washington fat and happy).
Most of my friends who work for the federal government privately will admit they are very fortunate.
But when I run into someone who denies that bureaucrats get above-market compensation, I simply share this data from the Labor Department. That usually shuts them up.
By the way, there’s strong evidence from the European Central Bank that overpaid bureaucrats have a negative impact on macroeconomic performance.
Further, the World Bank has produced a study showing how bureaucrats manipulate the political process:
…public sector workers are not just simply implementers of policies designed by the politicians in charge of supervising them — so called agents and principals, respectively. Public sector workers can have the power to influence whether politicians are elected, thereby influencing whether policies to improve service delivery are adopted and how they are implemented, if at all. This has implications for the quality of public services: if the main purpose of the relationship between politicians and public servants is not to deliver quality public services, but rather to share rents accruing from public office, then service delivery outcomes are likely to be poor.
Here’s my video explaining how bureaucrats are overpaid. It was filmed in 2010, so many of the numbers are now out-dated, but the arguments are just as strong today as they were back then.
But keep in mind that the bureaucracy is only one piece of the puzzle.
The DC metropolitan region is unjustly rich because of everyone else who has figured out how to divert taxpayer money into their pockets. That includes disgusting examples of Democrat sleaze and Republican sleaze.
P.S. Here’s some data comparing the size and cost of bureaucracy in various nations.