Opinion: The Shutdown Couldn’t Have Happened To A Nicer Town

Those of us in the private sector know that the U.S. still has not fully recovered from the weak real estate market and general economic malaise that started in the recession of 2008. Most also know that Washington DC has been immune, and continued its rise uninterrupted, buoyed by fat federal jobs and that unstoppable force of nature, tax collections fueled by the rest of us living in the outer reaches of the empire (“The New Boomtown,” crows the Washington Post).

The media has done its best to paint last week’s shutdown as a disaster. Mother Jones magazine warns about “48 Ways a Government Shutdown Will Screw You Over” (#44: “The Bureau of Economic Analysis will cut back on its data collection.”) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decries those children stricken with cancer who will no longer have access to government-funded clinical trials.

In many cases government workers seem to have gone through the trouble of actively shutting down agency websites, when it seems the path least likely to have caused disruption to citizens would have been to simply leave them as they were.

The Federal government does, of course, provide some critical services (including help to cancer-stricken children). But there is simply so much waste in DC it’s hard to avoid schadenfreude and feel the Feds had it coming.

Take the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose Office of Communications employed 59 people last year at an average of $136,000 each in wages and benefits, for a total of $8 million. The Department also has its own Office of the Chief Economist with 49 employees that average $184,000 each in wages and benefits, totalling another $9 million. In all, the average federal worker in 2012 earned $114,976, a startling 74% more than the private sector average of $65,917.

But for those who decide you can’t beat ‘em: our beloved Department of Agriculture is currently looking for a “Public Affairs Specialist,” at a salary (excluding benefits) of between $105,000 and $137,000 per year. You can apply here.

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