It Really Is A Village

Via Bloomberg (h/t TPM):

Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.

The key fact to extract from the data:

In recent years Washington has attracted more lobbyists and firms with an interest in the health-care overhaul and financial regulations signed into law by President Barack Obama, according to local business leaders.

“Wall Street has moved to K Street,” said Barbara Lang, president and chief executive officer of the DC Chamber of Commerce, referring to the Washington street that’s home to prominent lobbying firms. “Those two industries clearly have grown in our city.”

Which isn’t to say that the concentration of high end civil service and appointed jobs doesn’t have an impact: 

Update (see the explanation below):  Bloomberg also suggests that well paid (is the suggestion overpaid?) civil servants help drive DC’s rise to the top of the wealth tables:

Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009, according to Bloomberg News calculations of Commerce Department data. There were 170,467 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June.

Update: As several commenters have pointed out (with the usual BJ reticence) this is a red herring, the more so for the conflation of benefits with salary to come up with a compensation figure.

Put it all together, and what do you get?

A ruling elite economically and emotionally disconnected from the reality that most Americans recognize.  Which is one of the reasons that both what gets proposed and how it gets covered  is so often so unbelievably bad.

Update: Several commenters have pointed out that the reference to highly paid civil servants is a red herring at best, and a slander at worst.  And I agree with that, or at least with the notion that such an implication could be drawn from the above.  What I meant to do by including that last block quote was to include the survey results, but not to suggest that the GS14 working at the Dept. of Commerce is screwing up policy or its presentation to the American people.

The real point I think this very coarse bit of data allows us to draw is that it has become exceptionally lucrative to buy and sell influence…to the point that it becomes very hard to see how to construct a disinterested policy apparatus.  When your exceptionally good living depends on not knowing stuff, or knowing things that ain’t so…well, we’re living with how that ends.  And when the decision makers — Congress, and senior staffers there, and top folks at the agencies, top “journos” (scare quotes to indicate the distance such folks have traveled from actual journalism) — all know exactly how it’s possible to live in this policy-making/policy-influencing nexus, you get a Village with both experience and skin in the game that disconnects them from everyone and everywhere else.

Image:  Simon Vouet, Wealthbetween 1635 and 1640.

70 replies
  1. 1
    Ben Cisco says:

    Chuckie Todd couldn’t wait to tweet this bs this morning; I told him that even for him it was lame.
    Not that I expected a response, but I’d like to be able to imagine the little Ferengi squirming just a little.

  2. 2
    Karen says:

    That implies that the rank and file are getting those salaries and benefits and most rank and file government workers don’t make that kind of salary.

  3. 3
    Steve says:

    Lawyers and lawyer-lobbyists do well, but I think the people who really bend the income curve are the federal contractors, particularly the defense contractors. Those people have the same effect on the housing prices in the DC area as the financial industry does in NYC. They occupy a different tier.

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    Um, wonder how wide a spread the income disparity is in the DC metro area. Gotta be huge.

  5. 5
    deep cap says:

    It’s what I want to keep reminding people about the OWS movement: It doesn’t have to be a Progressivist movement or an anti-capitalist movement.

    The 1% crooks have figured out a was to screw the 99% over using both a socialist and capitalist system. They’ll keep giving each-other raises and bonuses regardless of whether it’s capitalism or socialism.

  6. 6
    Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson says:

    @BGinCHI: ‘spect so. When the ruination of this week subsides (mid day Friday) I’ll try to track down finer grained data.

    @Karen: yup. See above.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    4tehlulz says:

    Did this survey not include Anacostia?

    Or has that been gentrified all to hell too?

  9. 9
    RobertB says:

    @Karen – I thought what skews the numbers is that there aren’t as many rank-and-file government workers now as there were in the past. All those GS-6 and GS-7 custodians and mail room clerks are now contractors, being managed by a GS-13.

  10. 10
    scav says:

    @Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson: That would be a hell of a map too. Census should get us at least to county although there’ll still be hidden variance. Better on the east coast than the left, small bit of luck.

  11. 11
    burnspbesq says:

    “Including health care and other benefits” is a pretty big fudge factor. Without some information as to how those benefits were valued, I have to heavily discount the reliability of these data.

    The rest of the civilian agencies may be different, but in the agency I once worked for the overwhelming majority of employees are GS-14 or below, and even at GS-14 step 10, the total value of comp and benefits, including the location differential for DC, doesn’t approach $126K.

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    NoVa/DC is expensive place to live, and the government draws upon a non-trivial level of expertise. I can’t get that upset. There’s a Ph.D agronomist in Beltville or an accountant in the DOT Inspector General’s office from Springfield for every hack… and they’re working hard for me.

  13. 13
    David in NY says:

    That “total compensation” metric for federal workers is cherry picking. The apparent basis for choosing the “wealthiest” is income, i.e. salary, not income plus benefits. (See “typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year”). The salary portion of that compensation is significantly less than the total, and is usually how we figure these things.

    (BTW, Chris Christie was yelling at me yesterday that everybody knows the difference between “salary” and benefits, after a Judge held that the state constitutional provision declaring that judges’ “salary” may not be reduced during their term was violated by a reduction in their pensions. I guess he’s wrong.)

  14. 14
    khead says:

    Which is one of the reasons that both policy and the coverage of and discourse coming out of the center of government is so unbelievably bad.

    It’s the federal employees influencing the shitty policy and discourse? Yeah. Sure. I’m having lunch with “the villagers” so I can give them my opinions later this afternoon.

  15. 15
    cpinva says:

    bear in mind, the headquarters of every federal agency are located in washington. that being the case, it should come as no surprise that a fair chunk of the federal employees working there are at the highest grade/salary levels. they also happen to be among the best educated in the entire federal work force. if they all got together and formed their own firm, it would immediately become the number 1 law/accounting/engineering/medical firm in the country, if not the world.

    so, my question to you is this: who do you want running the federal gov’t, low paid incompetent people, or moderately paid (for the jobs being done) very competent people? the choice is yours.

  16. 16
    Redshift says:

    @Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson:

    @Karen: yup. See above.

    See what above? All I see is a statement about a high average civil service salary and an implication that they’re part of the “ruling elite.” If that’s not what you meant, it’s sure how it reads to me.

    Having grown up in the area, I know a lot of federal employees (not the “high-end” ones), and they’re anything but disconnected from the problems of most of America, especially with a Congress that’s looking to cut their jobs at every turn.

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Don’t forget there’s a high concentration of 7 to 8 figure overpaid “journalist” vermin in the DC area…to include the entire “This Week” crowd, all of whom need tumbrel rides, stat.

  18. 18
    cpinva says:

    @Ben Cisco: i keep a copy of “The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition on my desk, and refer to it often. quite a few nuggets of wisdom in there.

  19. 19
    Redshift says:

    If you want to know who “The Village” are, they’re the ones who will agree if you say “DC is full of transients, no one really lives there.”

  20. 20
    Yutsano says:


    The rest of the civilian agencies may be different, but in the agency I once worked for the overwhelming majority of employees are GS-14 or below

    This is assuming they are counting these folks on the GS pay scale. If they are on the executive scales (which would not be unusual for DC) that would throw the findings out of perspective.

  21. 21
    Anoniminous says:

    Your Free Market Capitalist System:

    Bank of America Deathwatch: Moves Risky Derivatives from Holding Company to Taxpayer-Backstopped Depository

    Teaser quote …

    he effect of the 2005 bankruptcy law revisions: derivatives counterparties are first in line, they get to grab assets first and leave everyone else to scramble for crumbs. So this move amounts to a direct transfer from derivatives counterparties of Merrill to the taxpayer, via the FDIC, which would have to make depositors whole after derivatives counterparties grabbed collateral.

    IOW, the taxpayer will soon be on the hook for trillions of losses on derivatives.

  22. 22
    Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson says:

    @Redshift: By see above, I meant see my promise to try to dig up more data.

  23. 23
    catclub says:

    @BGinCHI: Not nearly as big as NYC.

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:


    “Including health care and other benefits” is a pretty big fudge factor. Without some information as to how those benefits were valued, I have to heavily discount the reliability of these data.

    That was my first thought, too. Like when Republicans kept trying to claim that auto workers make $70K a year … once you add in their health care and future retirement, of course.

    “Including benefits” is a signal that these are bogus, inflated numbers that don’t reflect what people actually take home in their paychecks, which is what normal people regard as “income.”

  25. 25
    G says:

    are these the same government employees who have the two year wage-freeze?

    same ones now in the sights of liberman and Collins?

    Two Senators Target Federal Workers’ Pay, Benefits

    Posted 10/14/2011 06:21 PM ET

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Senators Lieberman and Collins’ deficit reduction plan hits federal employees hard, leaves contractors largely unscathed

    The American Federation of Government Employees today expressed its profound disappointment regarding the deficit reduction recommendations proposed by the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

    Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, propose about $60 billion in cuts to federal employees’ wages and benefits. This would be on top of $60 billion in cuts already contributed by federal employees through a two-year pay freeze.

    Meanwhile, the two senators have proposed a paltry $11 billion reduction to the $320 billion spent each year on government service contractors. And they’ve left in place a policy that lets government contractors charge taxpayers nearly $700,000 for each contractor employee.

  26. 26
    James says:

    First of all, shame on you for conflating federal salaries with those of lobbyists and contractors. And shame on you for quoting bloomberg’s analysis of “average” compensation when they don’t show their work. There is actually a fact-check on this rightwing talking point dating from 2010 straight out of Heritage Foundation here : Are Federal Workers Overpaid?.

    A few flaws in this kind of comparison:

    The analysis is based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and crudely done by dividing total compensation (salary and benefits) by the number of current federal civilian employees. Comparing such averages is quite misleading, for two reasons:

    First, BEA says the figure is inflated by including compensation that is actually paid to benefit retirees, not just for current workers. The figure is at least several thousand dollars too high, by our calculations.

    Second, the average federal civilian worker is better educated, more experienced and more likely to have management or professional responsibilities than the average private worker.
    Officially, the Office of Personnel Management says federal civilian workers on average are paid 24 percent less than private workers — a figure based on surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and often cited by unions and their Democratic allies. But this is misleading, too. The BLS surveys don’t include the cost of benefits — which both sides agree are more generous for federal workers. Experts also say there are other flaws in OPM’s methodology that prevent a true apples-to-apples comparison.

    And double shame on you for pivoting off this specious rightwing trope and making broad-bush pronouncements about silly stuff like “ruling elites.” Just leave the federal workforce out of it. The President of the United States, the highest paid federal “worker” makes $400,000 per year, which is a lot less than David fucking Gregory makes, or Chuck Todd either.

  27. 27
    catclub says:

    @Anoniminous: “IOW, the taxpayer will soon be on the hook for trillions of losses on derivatives.”

    1. I never know if IOW is ‘in other words’ or ‘I only wish’
    … or ‘i once washed’.

    2. If that ‘soon’ is the same soon that says the US government is bankrupt to the tune of $75Tr, then I am not worried. Time wounds all heels, or some such. Also, if it is the same accounting that said the bailout was $23Tr, but the US government so far has made a profit on its bailout spending, I am again not worried.

  28. 28
    scav says:

    @BGinCHI: I’m out of practice with American Fact Finder. Still, at the tract level in Washington city DC, using Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) PER CAPITA INCOME IN 1999 (DOLLARS) we go from $0 to $107,152.

    ETA: The collar counties are probably where things get really interesting, but I wasn’t able to quickly run down the definition of the Metro Area yet.

  29. 29
    Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson says:

    @James: I take my lumps. See the update above.

    @G: ditto

    @Mnemosyne: double ditto…

    …and you get the idea. I wasn’t seeking to lump the civil service into the problem. It’s the lobbyist/policy unholy marriage that makes me fret. The original post was poorly written and did not reflect that. I hope the update makes the point clear.

  30. 30
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne: speaking of benefits payments, did anything happen on the USPS front? The Congress had kneecapped it by forcing it to pre-fund all of its pension costs, which makes all the rest of its acconuts look bad. Any change on that?

  31. 31
    James says:

    In fact, here is the pay scale for federal workers
    2011 Pay Tables for Executive and Senior Level Employees.

    In fact, CBO did an analysis comparing federal benefits with those in the private sector:
    Comparing Federal Employee Benefits with Those in the Private Sector
    Sure, federal workers get good benefits. but they certainly aren’t excessive, and they are actually comparable to union benefits stratified by education and type of position.
    Decent benefits is a recognized way of recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce.

    If people resent that, maybe they should think about organizing some collective bargaining for better wages and benefits for themselves. That, after all, is the added value you get for collective bargaining.

  32. 32
    James says:

    @Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson: Fair enough. It *does* make for a good discussion, doesn’t it?

  33. 33
    James says:


    That was my first thought, too. Like when Republicans kept trying to claim that auto workers make $70K a year … once you add in their health care and future retirement, of course.

    No, actually, auto workers make around $28 per hour, with benefits included it comes to about $52 an hour. That $70 an hour includes all of the retirement pensions paid out to *all* auto retirees. Like I said to Karen Tumulty, who repeated this trope, that’s like saying she makes a million dollars per year, counting what they paid Clare Booth Luce when she retired.

  34. 34
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Ugh. We’re going to hear about this A LOT. And the focus isn’t going to be on lobbyists and influence-peddlers. It’s going to be on overpaid government workers living it up on Our Hard-earned Tax Money. It’s going to be ugly. Uglier, I guess.

  35. 35
    ruemara says:

    I could damn near kill something to just make $40k again, so, while I know that area of the world makes that average salary go pretty quickly, I can’t really feel too bad for them. And I’m completely pro government worker but I’ve once again been ignored by a company with a job I fit to a t, so I’m not feeling charitable. Give me a few days for the stinging to stop.

  36. 36
    Ben Cisco says:

    @cpinva: Yeah, it’s almost as though the author spent a good deal of time amongst the NeoConfederates.

  37. 37
    duck-billed placelot says:

    Just some back of envelope numbers fun:

    1)Washington, DC is a super expensive place to live.

    2)When I’m budgeting out salaries for grant applications, the standard benefits figure I use is 27% of the wage/salary.

    Using a salary cost-of-living comparison calculator (bestplaces dot net), the same life style would only require ~$100k in Denver. Less 27% in benefits, that would work out to around a $81k salary. It’s a nice salary, sure, but since every one of those federal employees probably has at least one degree, I wouldn’t call it outrageous. (For smaller, less desirable locations, the comparable salary sinks much lower.)

  38. 38
    Anoniminous says:


    Did you read the article at the link?

  39. 39
    Samara Morgan says:

    i liek this name so much.
    its like the title of a kaiju eiga.

  40. 40
    piratedan says:

    village? more like a gated community, complete with guy in uniform with clipboard at the front asking you to “state your business”.

    Gotta feeling that the pay in DC is inflated by lobbyists sucking at the tit of the influence peddling industry.

  41. 41
    Ella in New Mexico says:


    As the daughter of a retired Federal DOD Engineer and the spouse of a 25+ year DOD Technical professional approaching 50, I get so God-damned angry when I read these completely biased attacks on Federal Workers. For my entire adult lifetime, it has been perfectly ok to make them the whipping boys of every recession we’ve ever had. Every generation gets to be propagandized with this crap at some stage of their development thanks to the total vacuum of accurate facts and perspectives reported by a media starving for easy copy.

    And that’s the key: the press gets a pass on any and all accuracy when it comes to demonizing these workers. Maybe it’s by including (but not stating such) the cost of benefits when waiving around these fake salaries, or by ignoring the fact that a private sector minimum wage job does NOT compare to the wage deserved for scientific, medical or professional employees. They always ignore the fact that the highest number of Federal employees are clerical and technical positions that pay less than 50K a year, so they lump apples with oranges to exaggerate the “average”. And please don’t forget that political appointees are not regular Civil Service workers, anymore than Congressmen and Senators are.

    Most federal employees, in and out of the beltway are solidly middle class people, struggling to make ends meet just like everyone else. The modicum of security they receive from Civil Service rules and reasonable benefit packages is the price they gladly pay for service to the public and for receiving lower salaries over all in comparison to their private sector counterparts. But like teachers and other public service workers, they prefer to do something good for their country, without the soul-killing price of increasing the profits of their corporate CEO’s and shareholders.

    What makes me even crazier is the false assertion that every Federal worker is a fucking “GS 14” living high on the hog and set for life with cushy pensions and free health benefits. First of all, depending on where you live and how old you are, you can be a GS 14 with all the costs of late middle age bearing down on you and be literally broke. Just ask my parents who found that the only way to get promoted in government was for my dad to accept jobs in the DC area–where, thanks to the outrageous costs of living during the entire 8 years they lived in NOVA, they were NEVER able to afford to purchase a home, pay for our college tuitions or even buy a new car. Thank God they got out and now live in a place that’s affordable, but at 72 and 75, they are still paying a mortgage on a very modest house, drive a 12 year old car and are paying off debts they incurred while taking care of my Alzheimer’s inflicted grandma–who had no insurance and paltry Social Security.

    And as for lobbyists bribing them–Puhlease! My dad once got a free umbrella at the car rental desk on a business trip he had to turn in because he wasn’t allowed to accept gifts or remunerations as a condition of his employment. We could have really used that fucking umbrella, too.

    My husband have spent the better part of our lives robbing Peter to pay Paul because of his low salary, so thank God we had some health benefits and a decent 401K plan that we can trust isn’t being robbed.

    Only in the last 2 years, since I became a nurse, do we literally have any money left in the bank after paying the bills. I’m now considering working for the VA to help wounded vets recover from these shitty wars. It’ll be a pay cut, but compared to what it’s like to work for a for-profit hospital that really cares nothing for its staff or the best outcomes for it’s patients, it’ll be a dream come true to work someplace that DOES.

    So bring on the rhetoric and demonizing–someone’s gotta do the dirty work, regardless of the fucking cling-clang the Village is gonna spout against us.

  42. 42
    ChrisNYC says:

    Cross posted at Red State?

  43. 43
    Karen says:

    The metropolitan DC area (Montgomery County and Prince George’s County MD and Northern VA) is ultra expensive to live in. I live in Montgomery County, MD in “subsidized” housing because of my income. I’m paying $1,280 a month. It’s subsidized because I pay 66% of what my apartment is worth. It’s a regular 2 bedroom garden apartment, not a penthouse or anything. That should give you an idea of how expensive it is to live in this area.

    And I’m originally from Long Island (where my folks still live) so I know DC isn’t the most expensive place to live. But it’s up there.

  44. 44
    James says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: Yes. You said it much better and more thoroughly than I did. Thanks.

  45. 45
    Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: I agree with everything you say — and tried to make clear in the updates what I very much did not in the first fast pass at my post.

    Civil service employees are not the problem. The fact that such wealth attaches to the lobbying industry is — and not just because of undeserved (IMHO) cash peddling influence attracts to those who do it. What’s as bad or worse is the way such wealth affects those being lobbied. Not the civil service, but elected officials, senior staff, and political appointees who form a large part of the revolving door economy in Washington.

  46. 46
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson:

    Sorry, like the warning posted at the top of my rant, I may have failed to read all updates/comments.

    I think the fact that I just found out my Dad—a sweetheart of a human being who has a Ph.D in Physics and donates time and money to orphans in Juarez—has just secretly spent four humiliating weeks walking around with his two front teeth broken off at the root because he couldn’t afford to get his dental work taken care of has made me a little edgy.

  47. 47
    trollhattan says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:

    If your engineer dad had worked in the private sector he’d have earned far more. The tradeoff those in the professional ranks make to go to work for government is to gain stability, reasonable hours and good benefits while working for a fraction of their “market” value.

    This is not widely recognized.

    This calculus doesn’t necessarily carry over to janitors, clerical workers and the like, who are routinely screwed in the private sector and are paid a living wage if working in government. And that’s the part that sets wingers off–“They should be getting screwed too, because the markets say so.”

  48. 48
    Maude says:

    There’s a lot of being ignored going on. I know how it feels. It’s even happening on little jobs.

  49. 49
    catclub says:

    @Anoniminous: Yes, of course I read the one linked on the other post, since the link upthread is borked.

    1. Yes I agree that BofA is walking dead.
    2. I also noted the word ‘notional’ in the description of the $79Tr in derivatives.
    3. It appears that FDIC IS likely to reject the transfer, so who knows that will happen.

  50. 50
    Ella in New Mexico says:


  51. 51
    wrb says:

    Is a pretentious art douche a product or a practice?

  52. 52
    MarkJ says:

    I’ve seen the influx of money first hand – this was a somewhat expensive but still reasonable city as late as 2000. Then the real estate market exploded.

    I lived in the Glover Park neighborhood until 2001, moved away for three years, and came back in 2004. The row houses in Glover Park were selling for $250K when I moved there in 1999 (I was renting a room in a group house but wish I’d had the scratch back then to buy). When I left in 2001, people were asking $350K. I came back in 2004 and they were selling for $800K plus.

    Glover Park was always a nice neighborhood – i.e. it was already “gentrified” so no part of that price escalation was due to turning an area from “bad” to “good”. I can tell you for sure that federal salaries did not keep pace with the housing market – there’s another element driving that massive increase. If I had to guess I’d say Tom has it right – it’s lobbyists and their ilk, plus maybe growth in federal contracting.

  53. 53
    catclub says:

    @wrb: Both, dessert topping _and_ floor wax!

  54. 54
    C says:

    Why does the focus always go to federal workers/lobbyists/lawyers, and almost never to CONTRACTOR$$$$$? There are very highly-paid lawyers in DC, for sure, and there are somewhat highly-paid lobbyists, but the real rise in the DC area is directly tied to gov’t contracts, especially DoD and other “security” contracts.

  55. 55
    C says:

    @James: You just posted the Senior Executive Schedule/Admin Judges/Senior Professionals pay scale. That’s the absolute top of the federal pay scale, and encompasses a very small percentage of the federal workforce.

  56. 56
    Surly Duff says:


    I can’t really feel too bad for them. And I’m completely pro government worker but I’ve once again been ignored by a company with a job I fit to a t, so I’m not feeling charitable

    But that’s the whole point of printing this argument. Whenever the true elites are threatened, there is an attempt to distract the public by holding up the mythical federal, state, and local worker living high on the hog as the reason why your taxes are so high/services are not rendered efficiently/you are not making so much. It’s a distraction. They want you to not be charitable. It is the same reason teachers are demonized and their pensions are gutted, all for the greater good of balancing the budget. Because that average salary + benefits of $60k per year is extravagant and shouldn’t you, Joe Lunchbox have it so good as well. Nevermind that I have yet to meet a teacher with multiple vacation homes.

  57. 57
    RP says:

    I live in Bethesda and it’s extremely expensive. A federal worker who makes $90-100K is far from rich in this area. I think the federal work force does have a significant role in increasing the per capita income in DC, but it’s more that it creates a very stable middle class population, something a lot of metro areas probably don’t have.

  58. 58
    Derfbot 9000 says:

    Look at all the federal employees dragging their sobbing asses in here to tell us how oppressed they are. The United States of America: where everybody, no matter what wage they earn or degrees and accreditations they hold, is always, always lower middle class. Tops.

    Serious lol at the guy who says 100k is barely enough to get by on.

  59. 59
    Dead Duck Fucking says:

    MarkJ: when was Glov er Park not “gentified”?

    RP: The problem is not that Bethesda is expensive, it is that everywhere else in the metro area is nearly as expensive, unless you move to the ‘bad’ parts of town. And, as one who has lived in the area my entire life, it is really only the housing costs that make life difficult here. Prior to the bubble, things weren’t great, but it wasn’t as painful as it is now. Also, only assholes still live in Bethesda (Hi Mom!).

    Also, too, it is importantto note that DC Feds aren’t eligible for regional pay adjustments, as Chicago, NYC, Boston, LA, and SF Feds are.

  60. 60
    Dead Duck Fucking says:

    And Tom, shouldn’t you be a little more cautious in casting aspersions on alleged ‘villages’? I know it’s the cooll thing to do these days, but don’t you teach at MIT? One could argue that elite instituions, especially in the NE, can be perceived as ‘village’-esque in there own right.

  61. 61
    Tom Return of the Pretentious Art Douche Levenson says:

    @Dead Duck Fucking: Wasn’t casting aspersions at villages. Was doing so on the Village.

    Just as, in the SF area in which I grew up, if you snarked on the Grove, everyone understood you weren’t talking about the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Muir Woods.

  62. 62
    Dead Duck Fucking says:

    Tom, I don’t buy it. I don’t think that DC is any more captive of elites or elite thinking than any other bastion of priveledge. I don’t think that the capital-V village meme is indicitive of anything other than certain elites distancing themselves from “Other” elites.

    It’s lazy.

  63. 63
    RP says:

    Serious lol at the guy who says 100k is barely enough to get by on.

    Is this directed at me? Because I did not say or come close to implying that someone could not “get by on” $100K. I simply said that in the DC area that salary doesn’t mean you’re rich or even at the top end of the upper middle class. The average first year associate at a big law firm in DC makes $175K.

    RP: The problem is not that Bethesda is expensive, it is that everywhere else in the metro area is nearly as expensive, unless you move to the ‘bad’ parts of town. And, as one who has lived in the area my entire life, it is really only the housing costs that make life difficult here. Prior to the bubble, things weren’t great, but it wasn’t as painful as it is now. Also, only assholes still live in Bethesda (Hi Mom!).

    Right. Maybe I wasn’t clear, but I wasn’t saying that only Bethesda is expensive. I was referring to the entire DC metro area. But what do I know? I’m just an asshole.

  64. 64
    James says:

    @C: Oh yeah, I know. The discussion I was responding to was about the SES and I posted that as a reality check. Getting into the whole General Services and Wage Grade structure wasn’t the aim of my comment.

  65. 65
    James says:

    @C: When I was a fed I was earning around $20 an hour as a 0856; part of my job was monitoring contracts and supervising and training contractors who were charging $45 the gubmint an hour *plus* per diem. Somehow the “efficiency experts” claimed that this was the most cost effective way to do business.

  66. 66
    Ronzoni Ricatoni says:

    “Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000…”

    Holy sh*t! I retired too early!

  67. 67
    fourmorewars says:

    Anybody remember watching this? Seems an appropriate visual aid to the objections about who it is upping the average around D.C. Thomas Franks takes a tour.

  68. 68
    Herman Newticks says:

    note that the compensation increase for federal workers since 2009 reflects the cost of health insurance, almost exclusively. Federal workers have been under a pay freeze since 2009, and have not had increases in salary. An individual worker could have gotten a raise as a result of a promotion.

  69. 69
    MarkJ says:

    @Dead Duck Fucking: My point was that it always was gentrified – i.e. the massive escalation in housing prices there weren’t driven by gentrification. The point being, a bunch of people making far more money than the average federal worker moved in and drove up the cost of housing there and elsewhere in the city. Who were those people? Probably lobbyists and contractors.

    Even a two income family making the relatively generous federal average would have a hard time paying $800K or more for a house.

  70. 70
    gluon1 says:

    @Redshift: A flower on your head for saying it.

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