BREAKING NEWS- MUST CREDIT THE WEEKLY STANDARD

The White House apparently employs people to do things and pays them for their work:

The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper, who yesterday broke the story of a government leader reminding his employees to obey the law, unearths another scandal: the White House employs calligraphers. And pays them money!

    Chief White House Calligrapher Gets Paid $96,725 Per Year

    With the White House closing its doors to public tour groups in order to save money for the sequester, it’s worth remembering some of the other costs the White House incurs annually.

    Like the “Chief Calligrapher,” Patricia A. Blair, who has an annual salary of $96,725, and her two deputies, Debra S. Brown, who gets paid $85,953 per year, and Richard T. Muffler, who gets paid $94,372 every year.

Yes, it sounds a little silly that we’re paying people good money to do fancy handwriting while threatening to furlough people doing real jobs. But the White House is, after all, home to the head of state of the most powerful nation on earth. It hosts state dinners and engages in all manner of ceremonial functions. It’s not shocking that a whopping three people are employed doing calligraphy.

Two quick things- while James does a good job of providing the appropriate level of scorn for the moron trying to make something out of this, I resent the implication that a calligrapher is not a “real job.” It’s a highly specialized skill set, people obviously see value in it (you have been to a wedding or funeral or similar event, haven’t you, folks), and they provide a service people covet. It’s as real a job as any other job out there, and they actually make things and, unlike wall street hacks and right wing congressmen, they’ve never destroyed the economy and brought the nation to its knees or invaded a foreign country for no good reason. I’d much rather hire an army of calligraphers and artists to make pretty things across America over dumping pallets of unmarked bills on Iraq.

Second, one thing James does miss is something that drives me crazy every time I read one of the jackasses at Reason or any other random right wing site posting salaries of fireman, policemen, teachers, etc., and acting like it is some princely sum- “OMG THIS FIREMAN/COP/TEACHER MAKES 60k IN LA AND WE HAS DEFICITS.” These are then the VERY SAME people who literally freak the fuck out if you try to raise taxes 2% on the wealthiest Americans, and scream that 400k a year is middle class. Which is it? If 400k is middle class, how is 60k an outrageous sum for pulling your ass out of a burning building, educating your kid, or policing your neighborhood? If 400k truly is a middle class income, then I know a hell of a lot of k-12 teachers who need their salaries increased tenfold.

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109 replies
  1. 1

    You have to admit that there is a lot of similarities between conservatives and communists of yore.
    For example, communism cannot failed, it can only be failed and the same disdain for artists and intellectuals.

  2. 2
    Suffern ACE says:

    Bah. We wouldn’t need to spend so much on calligraphers if Old English and Gothic pennmanship were still taught in schools. This country has gone down the tubes since the advent of the ballpoint pen.

  3. 3
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Grab the pitchforks and torches! To the ramparts!

  4. 4
    👽 Martin says:

    Policemen, teachers, firemen, and White House calligraphers are incapable of turning a profit to be used to enrich shareholders – as is true of almost all government employees.

    Work and income are meaningless. Profit generation is the only true measure of work. If you can’t directly increase the wealth of the money holders, you’re fucking useless. Teachers don’t count because they’re too far removed. For all we know they could all be replaced with a sturdier set of bootstraps. I can’t slap a ROI number on my kid’s 6th grade teacher, so he’s gotta go.

  5. 5
    Cassidy says:

    Is that 60K in Louisiana or Los Angeles? If it’s the latter, I’m under the impression that ain’t pocket change.

    As I’m learning through the fire academy, these guys can get serious overtime if they want it. Citis and counties don’t want to hire excess personnel and someone is always getting sick, using leave time, etc.

  6. 6
    Roger Moore says:

    You’re making the same basic mistake of trying to use reason to refute an emotional appeal. They aren’t listening.

  7. 7
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Second, one thing James does miss is something that drives me crazy every time I read one of the jackasses at Reason or any other random right wing site posting salaries of fireman, policemen, teachers, etc., and acting like it is some princely sum- “OMG THIS FIREMAN/COP/TEACHER MAKES 60k IN LA AND WE HAS DEFICITS.”

    This kind of shit sends me through the fucking ceiling, as does the notion that minimum wage is something any human being, living anywhere in this nation, could live on.

  8. 8
    rda909 says:

    Logic has no business with the modern Republican. They are literally pre-programmed robots designed to spew focus group-tested talking points that serve a small sect of multi-millionaires and billionaires who are trying to take over this Democratic Republic. They’ve been trained not to think at all by the billionaires who own all the of the “mainstream media.”

  9. 9
    David in NY says:

    Nice work, Cole.

  10. 10
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    @Cassidy: As you know, 60k a year in Los Angeles will net you an OK apartment and a ten-year old car.

    That goes out the window if you’ve got kids. 60k a year for a family in most of Los Angeles means you’re a few bucks away from getting most of your food out of dumpsters.

  11. 11
    Keith G says:

    But if things get really bad, who gets laid off first, the calligraphers or the sommelier?

  12. 12
    General Stuck says:

    I skimmed that earlier and thought it said ” Chief White House Caligula”. Didn’t bother me none, the salary. Grape laden orgies and toga parties are great stress reducers for any leader of the free world, double for republicans.

  13. 13
    BGinCHI says:

    People on the right, who know nothing about how the actual world works, freak out when they find out where stuff comes from and how you have to manage it (salaries, pensions, etc.) to keep it going.

    They are all spoiled teenagers.

  14. 14
    Short Bus Bully says:

    Yes John, THIS times eleventy squared.

    We need to keep calling them on this bullshit every time it pops up on FB, the differnt newscycles and every fucking wingnut relative we have. Those are the trenches, and this is the shit we must refute if we’re going to ever have a serious conversation about serious topics in this country.

    Grassroots motherfuckers.

  15. 15
    aimai says:

    When the White house is the WHITE House all the nice stuff belongs to us and the right wingers live vicariously through imagining that we have a high class royal family enjoing the perks of running the country. When the White house is the BLACK house suddenly every single thing, from the Christmas Tree to the god damned toilet paper is something that the Obama family should be paying for on their own. Anyone remember the incredible fuss that was made about them putting up a play structure for the girls? The papers had to make a point of explaining and re-explaining that they had paid for it themselves and no white people’s money had been used.

  16. 16
    Cassidy says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Huh…did not know that. I knew a guy in Medic school who was making 60K as a paramedic before joining the Army. I don’t think he worked for LA, but somewhere around it. He was telling us how much it sucked and me, being from florida, thought 60K was amazing. This was over 10 years ago.

  17. 17
    David in NY says:

    @Cassidy:

    these guys can get serious overtime if they want it.

    OMG — if people work more than 40 hours a week, they make more money!!

    Why didn’t you tell us before! We could repeal labor laws on the books since the 1930’s! Make them work extra hours for free! That’s the American way! /snark

  18. 18
    Short Bus Bully says:

    @BGinCHI: Not only that, but the wingnuts are also resistant to a reality which is in any way COMPLEX.

    Black and white issues.

    Anything more nuanced than can be explained in a Drudge headline and BECAUSE SHUT UP THAT’S WHY.

    We need to keep talking and refuting it anyways.

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    “These people aren’t working real jobs for their nearly $300,000 in combined salary. No way. Obama’s got to be scamming the government for that money. Besides, employment created by the government doesn’t count as a real job.”

    Did I pass the wingnut language test?

  20. 20
    FlipYrWhig says:

    What do conservative pundits produce, again?

  21. 21
    Trollhattan says:

    @aimai:

    And also, too, no golf. You’re ruining golf, mister president, you should try cutting brush, only on your own time and your own nickel.

    How many days did Dubya take off over his eight years? Probably not enough, but that’s a topic for another day.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The Weekly Standard piece really doesn’t deserve much more than a “Wow, you are a fucking idiot” response.

  24. 24

    @Amir Khalid: Too coherent, not enough of a word salad. Please try again. Kthx.

  25. 25
    beltane says:

    This is nothing more than conservatism’s age-old distate for work and workers. In the old days, gentlemen did not work; they lived a life of leisure subsidized by the rent paid from their estates. Instead of gentlemen, modern-day conservatives like to think of themselves as “job creators” who, by virtue of their superior breeding and “genius” also do not work; their extravagant way of life is paid for by raiding the pensions and otherwise stealing from the servant class.

    Conservatives of all time periods honestly believe that they are a superior breed of human who deserve endless riches and praise for their every poop and belch, while workers and they work they do are worthless in every sense of the word.

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    You could write a book about the similarities between American right-wingers and the hardcore communists of the old Soviet Union & co (and people probably have).

    The “cannot be failed” blind faith in the ruling economic/political system is one (it’s Our Way Of Life; therefore, it can’t be wrong). The anti-intellectualism’s another (people who sit around asking questions are a drag on the system and a source of unpatriotic dissent and confusion).

    Religious intolerance is another symptom of that same dislike for things that are “different” – against non-Christians (originally non-Protestants) here in the U.S, against religions in general in the USSR.

    Homophobia, interestingly, was historically a feature in both, with each side blaming it on the other. For our rightists, it was an abomination caused by the left’s rejection of Christianity. For their commies, it was a bourgeois degeneracy, a symbol of capitalist decadence and excess.

    The strong sense of nationalism and militarism. With the military-industrial complex that went with it in both cases. (Pithily summarized in a book I read last semester as “while the United States HAD a military-industrial complex, the Soviet Union virtually WAS a military-industrial complex.”)

    The elevation of ideology to a near-religious level, complete with the ability of those who control it to make politicians dance to their tune or risk losing legitimacy. Mikhail Suslov, the Politburo’s top ideologue, was kingmaker of the Soviet Union for decades; in our day and age we have people like Roger Ailes and Grover Norquist ensuring that Gooper politicians stay in line or risk primary challenges.

    I’m probably forgetting quite a few.

  27. 27
    chopper says:

    with these fuckers it all comes down to the horrible idea that somewhere a government employee is living a decent life.

  28. 28

    Median family income used to track with increases to GDP. That stopped in the 70s. If it had continued, then median family income would be $90,000-ish a year instead of $54,000. So the calligrapher is making a reasonably middle-class existence.

  29. 29
    beltane says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Conservative pundits produce the Platonic ideal of the stuff you use to fertilize your garden. If their ideas could be used to fertilize gardens in the real world, the existence of these pundits would be somewhat bearable. As it stands, they are nothing more than the morally bankrupt, intellectually inferior scions of upper-middle class America.

  30. 30
    Hoodie says:

    Silly liberals, they’re supposed to use outside vendors. The means that calligraphy gravy should be going to some job creator, not some lazy bureaucrats. The job creator will pay the calligraphers (maybe outsource to Chinese calligraphers) and pocket the difference, with a small amount taken out for contributions to Republican congressmen. Halliburton can show you how it’s done.

  31. 31
    Hill Dweller says:

    OT: Apparently Sen. Wyden has joined Aqua Buddha’s talking filibuster on the Senate floor.

  32. 32
    PeakVT says:

    OT: Did anyone catch Lindsay Graham’s ridiculous question during the Holder hearing? He was saying (paraphrasing) people need AR-15s in case there was a cyber attack and the dams were released and the chemical plants blow up and blah blah blah. Just crazy shit, like something Scalia might say.

  33. 33
    Roger Moore says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    As you know, 60k a year in Los Angeles will net you an OK apartment and a ten-year old car.

    There are a lot of people in LA living on a bunch less than that, even ones with families. Having lived in the LA area (Pasadena) on well under $60K in the recent past, I can say that it’s possible to live a very reasonable life there for that much. And a family with kids would probably have a second income to make life easier. That’s not to say that I would begrudge any public servant making that much- I have no problem with government employees living as well as I do- but even in a relatively expensive place like LA, $60K is middle class.

  34. 34
    Montanareddog says:

    Sometimes,Cole, you write such sense that I cannot imagine that you were once one of the wingnuts you so eloquently deride.

    What happened? Did they remove a tumor or something like in that Woody Allen movie?

    Another remark, carried over from your posts on the BJ meetup in Austin; it seems to me that half the BJ front pagers are academics but you must all be shit ones ‘cos you never seem to get invited to attend any international jollies conferences. If any of you do get to come to sclerotic, socialized, effeminate Europe, then count me in for a get-together.

  35. 35
    Melissa says:

    Most people use printed script on invitations, etc . My brother married a calligrapher and the difference is astonishing. My niece’s wedding invitation were glorious. So good for the calligraphers.

  36. 36
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    @Cassidy: Whoops. For some reason I thought you were a local.

    Anyway, cost of living in SoCal, especially housing, is insane. If you choose to indulge in the luxury of being a homeowner here, your family can be making over $200k a year and still be legitimately and very firmly middle-class, because you’ll be paying most of that right back out again in house payments.

  37. 37
    Roger Moore says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    What do conservative pundits produce, again?

    Very large quantities of bullshit. Also a fair amount of butthurt, outrage, and resentment.

  38. 38
    cthulhu says:

    Not to mention, it is more likely to be conservatives who would bemoan the “loss of tradition” if say, liberals had suggested doing away with calligraphy and switching to cheaper computer generated documents during the last administration.

    They just love fancy things but don’t want to pay for them.

  39. 39
    Zifnab says:

    It’s as real a job as any other job out there, and they actually make things

    Nonsense, John. You know the rule. Everything the government does is wasteful.

  40. 40
    beltane says:

    @PeakVT: I don’t think an AR-15 would be much help in the event of flash flooding or a chemical attack but what do I know.

  41. 41
    MattF says:

    One of the basic right-wing goals is to impoverish the public domain. So, calligraphers make beautiful things, and winger ideology condemns the notion that beautiful things have any place in government. Now, if a billionaire wants to pay a calligrapher to write wedding invitations, that’s cool.

  42. 42
    beltane says:

    @cthulhu: What they want are calligraphers who are happy to earn a dollar a day.

  43. 43
    efgoldman says:

    @Amir Khalid: Completely OT, but this startled me when I saw it this morning. What’s going on?

    MANILA — Malaysia used airstrikes and mobilized thousands of troops on Tuesday to try to put an end to a monthlong quixotic incursion by a band of gunmen from the Philippines seeking to reclaim part of Borneo Island for a defunct sultanate.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03......html?_r=0

    I didn’t realize (or had forgotten) that Borneo isn’t totally part of Indonesia.

  44. 44
    rec says:

    Instead of paying all that money for designing invitations and whatnot, what they should have done is fire these three moocher employees and pour all that money into

    Designing a sexist logo

    That’s what the good people of Florida chose to do and now they’re rolling in all kinds of business climates and climate businesses.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Work and income are meaningless. Profit generation is the only true measure of work. If you can’t directly increase the wealth of the money holders, you’re fucking useless.

    This right here. Somebody was surprised the other day when I said that the health insurance salespeople will be the very last ones laid off if there is a crash in healthcare because they’re the ones who actually bring money into the company. Doctors, nurses, health aides — all useless money-grubbers as far as hospitals and clinics are concerned. Only the people who actual bring in revenue are of any good.

    Before I got to my department here at the Giant Evil Corporation, there used to be a mandate that we generate revenue even though our primary mission is preservation. Too bad — if we weren’t actively making money for our division (primarily from other divisions) then we were useless and were going to be cut off.

    Ironically, now that that part of our mission was dropped, we’re probably making generating more money for the company than we ever were before by concentrating on museums and the like, which generates revenue not just for us, but for other divisions as well.

  46. 46
    efgoldman says:

    @FlipYrWhig: @schrodinger’s cat:No, they don’t. Real BS is genuinely useful and part of the natural cycle as fertilizer. Wingnut commentary has no know use for man, beast, or deity.

  47. 47
    Jewish Steel says:

    “$50? That’s pretty good for two hours of just playing music!” So said a perfectly nice person to me a while back. I managed to not burst into tears as I contemplated this was probably a very common POV.

  48. 48
    Mike in NC says:

    Three White House calligraphers provide more useful output than 30 Beltway stenographers following the wisdom of Eric Cantor and his cronies.

  49. 49
    aimai says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    I really think many people think that the money you earn (anyone earns) per hour is “a lot” because the nature of the education and work and toil and sweat and debt that you put into achieving the talent to do it is just completely invisible to them–as are things like the cost of travel, of living, of raising a family.

    I got roundly attacked on a blog entirely composed of women who work for near minimum wage, on shift work, scrambling to get opposite shifts to those worked by their husbands so they don’t have to pay for childcare. What pissed them off? The temerity I showed pointing out that a boss who forces your husband to drive an extra hour each way to a new workplace without gas money or raising your wages is profiteering off your husband–that negotiating to reduce your out of pocket costs for taking the job is perfectly reasonable. Its not that they argued that they weren’t in a position to negotiate in this economy. They were actually shocked that I suggested they look at the cost of their own labor in factoring in whether to take one job over another.

    What I mean is that this weird inability to grasp that the worker is worthy of his/her hire goes from the top to the bottom in this society.

  50. 50
    Trollhattan says:

    @chopper:

    There it is. At some recent point the California state budget defecit was far larger than the entire state payroll, but wingers (and others who have no excuse) continued proclaiming that, “Just cutting waste and bureaucracy” would fix the deficit.

    Had a social chat with somebody who was outraged the local school district superintendent made circa $180k (IIRC). I listed the size of the annual budget, the number of employees, the number of clients (students, plus parents), the number of facilities and having to answer to the (elected) school board, and asked, “How much would a CEO make, managing a corporation of identical size? How much would the combined corporate officers and the board members make?”

    Point was not taken, I don’t think, but at least I didn’t just nod to make nice and all.

  51. 51
    Baud says:

    WHY DOES THE WHITE HOUSE NEED A CHEF?! IS TACO BELL NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR OBAMA BECAUSE THEY USE REGULAR LETTUCE INSTEAD OF ARUGULA?

  52. 52
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I know a hell of a lot of k-12 teachers who need their salaries increased tenfold

    This, all by itself.

  53. 53
    Michele C says:

    @Doc Sportello: I was wondering if the Weekly Standard assumes that many of the readers will be making less, because of this very fact you cite, so the calligraphers will seem overpaid. Though, also, a distinct hatred of all arts and disdain for creative skills are on the list of “things we hate.” So, all artists, musicians, etc., ought to be happy to be paid anything to “just play music.” cc: @Jewish Steel

  54. 54
    Roger Moore says:

    @cthulhu:

    They just love fancy things but don’t want to pay for them.

    And they sure as hell don’t want Those People to have fancy things.

  55. 55
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Jewish Steel: Yep. That’s good. Maybe you shouldn’t practice so much. Then the overall rate per hour you get paid for your musical output would match what you get paid to perform. In fact, just go on stage and practice.

  56. 56
    Suffern ACE says:

    @efgoldman: I’ve been following the story through Zite because I track the Philippine news. I come to this headline yesterday ”
    MBLAQ FIRST CONTACT “The Invasion Continues” in Philippines” and I wonder if MBLAQ was some Militant Bornean Liberation something that was striking back at the Philippines. Crazy world that it is, and very plausible.

    Turns out they’re just another K-Pop boy band and not very dangerous at all.

  57. 57
    beltane says:

    @aimai: American workers-and this is largely an American attitude-have largely bought into the notion that a paycheck is almost a form of charity which they should accept gratefully and without complaint. The denigration of work, especially blue-collar work, has been an incessant theme in all levels of American popular culture for a very, very long time. Sadly, the Left is not immune from this attitude. I’ve heard far too many Democrats defend income stagnation and the financial squeezing of the working class by preaching the desirability of a college education so one can get a “real”, i.e. white collar job. Sorry, but if a job is necessary than it deserves to have a living wage attached to it.

  58. 58
    Michele C says:

    You know, I want to complain further. I’ve become angrier and angrier about the belief that seems to have slowly pervaded American thought — that it’s unreasonable to expect a middle-class salary for any job other than banking, day trading, and such. So much so, that when I’ve suggested otherwise, I get the awkward silences and small eye rolls as if I’ve suggested something entirely crazy.

  59. 59
    MattR says:

    Am I allowed to bitch about police salaries in the town where I grew up in suburban NY? The 50 highest paid public employees are all police officers and the average police salary in 2012 was just under $180K which is a bit more than the $179K the Governor of NY earns and is the highest for any city, village, town or county in the state. (That number will go down a bit in 2013 since they just hired 8 new officers at a starting salry of 59K) And they pushed for and received raises the past few years while the overall town budget was frozen.

    Otherwise, I do agree with John’s rant and realize that this town is the exception and not the rule.

  60. 60
    Trollhattan says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    But, but, but music is FUN. Shouldn’t you be paying others to listen?

    Stuff like this gets my goat. I’m occasionally asked to photograph events, etc., which I likewise occasionally agree to do. I once did this commercially, but now only as a hobby and don’t charge for my time or work.

    What I’m bringing, though, is many thousands in equipment and decades of experience. Then afterwards, there are untold hours processing and post-processing, etc. Most folks are appreciative and understanding of how long all that stuff takes, but some want their stuff RIGHT NOW and then want a laundry list of followup. Possible commercial use opens up a completely other can of worms.

    Since photography just involves pointing a phone at somebody and pressing a button, how hard can it be?

  61. 61
  62. 62
    Flying Squirrel Girl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Being a back office-type minion for many years, I have had to make this argument to managers more than once. When a manager once explained to me that were it not for the sales staff, none of us would have jobs, I asked how the sales staff would get paid, or how the goods they sell would reach the sales floor, without a back office staff.

  63. 63
    MomSense says:

    Amen, John Cole.

  64. 64
    Chris says:

    @beltane:

    I agree 100% with this.

  65. 65
    Chris says:

    @Flying Squirrel Girl:

    Yeah, the fact that underpaid jobs tend to be equally vital for society is one they find it convenient to ignore. That reaches its apex in the Ayn Rand concept of “going Galt,” that the cream of the country’s white collar community can simply go live in a canyon somewhere and they won’t need anybody to grow their food, build their houses, provide for any of the basic necessities, etc.

  66. 66
    Tone in DC says:

    @aimai:
    Oh AYUH.

    Uppity ni CLANG wants actual STAFF. Film at 11:00

  67. 67
    kindness says:

    Well they could go The Atlantic model and expect everyone to work for exposure.

    Yea, sure….gimmie some more of that special exposure.

  68. 68
    Eric U. says:

    @Suffern ACE: already been done by National Lampoon Mr. Roberts. Paraphrasing: “what do you think about when you are playing?” “I think about how many notes I’m playing and how much I’m getting paid per note”

  69. 69
    Deb T says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    I don’t remember anyone complaining when the Regans were living like royalty in the White House.

    Besides, calligraphy is a noble art. Apparently the founding fathers thought it was worth the price (probably a lot cheaper back then).

  70. 70
    Mike Furlan says:

    It is a religious belief, similar to:

    “A Maasai religious belief relates that God gave them all the cattle on earth, leading to the belief that rustling cattle from other tribes is a matter of taking back what is rightfully theirs,”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people

    They are “Urban Maasai” and all our money really belongs to them.

  71. 71
    The Moar You Know says:

    “$50? That’s pretty good for two hours of just playing music!”

    @Jewish Steel: I’ve had gigs where $50 wouldn’t have covered the cost of getting there.

    I’ve had gigs where $50 wouldn’t have covered the effort involved getting my amp up a flight of stairs.

    I love telling people who say shit like that to me that union scale for a musician playing on a TV/stage/movie set is north of six hundred bucks an hour, I’ve done that work, and I’m not playing their fucking wedding or whatever douche-ass gig they’ve got in mind for fifty fucking dollars.

    This may be why I don’t gig much anymore. I don’t ask for scale, usually, but I won’t stand for being lowballed either. Show some respect.

  72. 72
    Bnad says:

    @aimai: This, imagine the wingnut swoons over the thought of their Mayberry Machiavelli presnit serving properly sommelier-vetted wine to the Queen (who is of course our rightful ruler ever since those horrid Republicans took away the right of the Southerner to be king over his own land). I imagine a weird mental mix of daytime soap, Downton Abbey, Tammy Faye Baker, and Calista Gingrich.

  73. 73
    Napoleon says:

    I don’t know why the White House needs a calligrapher. They should just get Biden one of those little punch machines that puts raised letters on a strip of adhesive plastic.

  74. 74
    Eric S says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Before I got to my department here at the Giant Evil Corporation, there used to be a mandate that we generate revenue even though our primary mission is preservation. Too bad — if we weren’t actively making money for our division (primarily from other divisions) then we were useless and were going to be cut off.

    Last year the company I’m at introduced a new requirement that employees must submit 2 – 3 cost saving ideas per year at least 1 of which should save at least $15,000. This is part of the yearly evaluation and not doing so means an employee does not meet their job requirements. None of them have to be accepted but they have to be submitted.

  75. 75
    David Koch says:

    WHY DO THEY EMPLOY GARDENERS!?

    Obama should be mowing the WH lawn himself on Sunday, just like everyone!!

  76. 76
    encephalopath says:

    What are the odd that the figures listed for those two employees, $85,953 and $94,372, is total compensation for those jobs (wages, benefits, and SSI taxes) and not the employee’s gross income?

  77. 77
    The Moar You Know says:

    The denigration of work, especially blue-collar work, has been an incessant theme in all levels of American popular culture for a very, very long time. Sadly, the Left is not immune from this attitude. I’ve heard far too many Democrats defend income stagnation and the financial squeezing of the working class by preaching the desirability of a college education so one can get a “real”, i.e. white collar job. Sorry, but if a job is necessary than it deserves to have a living wage attached to it.

    @beltane: Hate to throw punches at my own side, but some of the most vicious “job snobs” I’ve ever met in my life have been liberals. And yeah, it most frequently comes out as educational snobbery. Really boils down to a class issue.

    In general, until Scott Walker kicked off the GOP union-slaughtering campaign, I’d say the Repukes did a better job than Dems in pretending that they were on their side. That’s no longer the case, but we haven’t even started to try and win that battle yet.

  78. 78
    Mike G says:

    Aren’t the Repukes the same people who sneered at Jimmy Carter economizing at the White House (“Cardigans are for queers, hyuk hyuk hyuk”; “Solar panels on the White House roof are communist”), and swooned when the Reagans brought back the profligate fur-coats-and-caviar lifestyle befitting the Awesome Awesomeness of Swaggering Mighty Murka?

  79. 79
    MikeJ says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I wonder if MBLAQ was some Militant Bornean Liberation something that was striking back at the Philippines. …

    Turns out they’re just another K-Pop boy band and not very dangerous at all.

    The boy bands aren’t a big problem, but you need to beware the MILF. Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

  80. 80
    Kyle says:

    @Eric S:

    Last year the company I’m at introduced a new requirement that employees must submit 2 – 3 cost saving ideas per year at least 1 of which should save at least $15,000.

    I’m guessing “Fire the dumbass MBA who came up with that puerile, make-busy idea,” wouldn’t go down too well as a suggestion, as valid as it would be.

  81. 81
    dmsilev says:

    @Eric S:

    Last year the company I’m at introduced a new requirement that employees must submit 2 – 3 cost saving ideas per year at least 1 of which should save at least $15,000

    Would ‘cut the CEO’s bonus by $15K’ be an acceptable suggestion?

  82. 82
    ruemara says:

    Not saying you’re wrong about conservatives, but you’ll find this attitude prevalent even amongst democrats and so called liberals. When it comes to workers, particularly government ones, we’re unworthy of whatever we earn. I get 20hrs a week and take home less than 1200 a month. College degree, highly skilled labour (broadcast production, photography, graphic design) with a 24/7 availability expectation, FEMA certification, yadda. Yet, I’m just scraping by. throw in medical bills and food, and I’ve wondered exactly how long I should be tortured by existence. Yet it’s still better than the commercial world, where experience seems to be anathema, so you’re not hirable.
    It’s a distinctly human trait, where the value of the worker, and particularly the craftsman (barring it being a rock star or actor they like), is absolutely worthless except if you personally create a profit. People can’t see the benefits because, I suppose, people don’t strike. Not just conservatives. Not at all. We’re invisible serfs in the gov, and for far too many, they’d be happier if we earned nothing and did penance for working in government.

    Edited to also add that the assumption that I also am some sort of basic HS graduate, and not college educated, also seems to be common misconception. Had no idea that not being college educated meant you should be a slave.

  83. 83
    Chris says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Hate to throw punches at my own side, but some of the most vicious “job snobs” I’ve ever met in my life have been liberals. And yeah, it most frequently comes out as educational snobbery. Really boils down to a class issue.

    Same here. Fellow college students especially.

    Here’s the problem with resolving these class issues: it seems to me that the emerging liberal coalition is sort of the opposite of how the previous one was set up. The New Deal coalition was held together by a consensus on economic issues, which masked serious divisions and fault lines on social issues (which eventually destroyed it). Time’s passed, what was once a liability has become an asset, so now the new coalition has pretty much a consensus when it comes to social issues. But much less of one on economics.

  84. 84
    David Hunt says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    hat do conservative pundits produce, again?

    CO2. And they’ll all tell you that we could use more of that.

  85. 85
    Roger Moore says:

    @Eric S:

    Last year the company I’m at introduced a new requirement that employees must submit 2 – 3 cost saving ideas per year at least 1 of which should save at least $15,000. This is part of the yearly evaluation and not doing so means an employee does not meet their job requirements. None of them have to be accepted but they have to be submitted.

    My first suggestion: fire the moron who came up with this idea. This will save both their salary and the time of all the people writing bullshit ways of saving money just to check off a box on their evaluation.

  86. 86
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Well, no, you see, people who work for the state should live in the sewer and eat garbage because they’re bad.

  87. 87
    Kathleen says:

    @Michele C: Amen. The most important job in my opinion is trash collector. It is so sad that Americans have internalized the “war of words on workers” to the degree aimai described.

  88. 88
    AA+ Bonds says:

    It is just butt-fuck lunatic for me to read all these whiners talking about how living in a big city makes their $200,000 into Monopoly money. I know three people who work for the city of New York and all have kids and families and holy shit do they not ever make that much money.

  89. 89
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Eric S:
    @Mnemosyne:

    There is now a decade of eternally sad literature where records managers have tried desperately to turn tricks with vague ROI-based proposals to justify their existence to shit-eating MBAs. The smart writing on the topic points out that the real ROI for records systems is “risk of incarceration”.

  90. 90
    The Moar You Know says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Do they live in Manhattan? Own homes?

    If I made half of 200k I’d be the happiest guy in the world, but let’s not pretend that if you’re living in a major metropolitan area that such an income is anything but scraping by.

  91. 91
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    This is an easy one. Cut the CEO’s salary by 15k.

    For starters.

  92. 92
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    The weird thing is that most people don’t fucking live in Manhattan o_O

    They have to live elsewhere, because they don’t make $200,000

  93. 93
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I mean should living in one part of the geographical United States cost that much? No of course not. Is the ability of people to live in that section of the country on $200,000 and not worry about their kids’ private school tuition a top priority for me? No of course not.

  94. 94
    AA+ Bonds says:

    B-b-but I need all my class signifiers or I’ll never Make It! Lean In, ladies, bill like the boys!

  95. 95
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Do they live in Manhattan?

    Who cares? Unless they’re contractually required to live in Manhattan, they’ve made their own choice in the matter. Living in Manhattan (or the most exciting part of any other large city) is a huge amenity, and people who want to take advantage of it should expect to pay a substantial premium for the privilege. People who don’t have enough money to live in Manhattan or simply prefer to save money can live in one of the other boroughs for a lot less, or in one of the surrounding cities for even less than that. Only people who are genuinely required to live there have a case for demanding a higher salary to pay for the higher costs.

  96. 96
    lojasmo says:

    @MattR:

    So? The average public employee doesn’t have criminals with guns out to get them.

    Pull your head from your ass.

  97. 97
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Were calligraphers paid by Republican administrations? Or is this something new?

    Everything President Obama does is a HUGE Nixonian scandal to Repubs so I can’t take anything they say too seriously.

  98. 98
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MattR:

    I would be curious to know how many hours per week each officer was expected to work for that salary. A lot of the time, the inflated police and firefighter salaries turn out to be due to the fact that they’re expected to work 60+ hours a week as a matter of course, and it’s the time-and-a-half that boosts them up to those salaries.

    IOW, it may be an outrageous salary for a 40 hour week, but it may not be that crazy for a 70 hour week.

  99. 99
    Mutaman says:

    It may be a “real job” but $96,000 per year? Do you have any idea what I have to do to make $96,000. And I’ve been told I’m a pretty good lawyer. I just wasn’t made for these times.

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mutaman:

    Do you have any idea what I have to do to make $96,000. And I’ve been told I’m a pretty good lawyer. I just wasn’t made for these times.

    Unfortunately for you, you became a lawyer right when we have a historic glut of them. In retrospect, going to art school to learn calligraphy might have been a better use of your time and money.

  101. 101
    Mister Papercut says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Were calligraphers paid by Republican administrations?

    In the C-SPAN video linked at the source, they talk to the chief calligrapher and, at length, to the deputy who makes the $94k.

    The date of the video is December 1, 2008, and at that point the deputy calligrapher says he’s been there 27 years (but they were shown prepping invitations, menus and placecards for the Queen’s state visit, and the last one she made here was in 2007), so he clearly worked through St. Ronnie and Poppy’s administrations as well.

    AFAIC, someone making that much with 32 years’ experience in a skilled trade is a bargain, if not bordering on highway robbery. I’d wager that if they tried contracting the work out, the going rate would be significantly more than the $46/hr or so that the chief and the one deputy make.

  102. 102
    Original Lee says:

    @Trollhattan: Yeah, I don’t understand this hate for the President playing golf. ASAICT, Obama has played golf less than 20 times in the past few years. The greens near the White House that have appropriate security I think waive the fee for him, or he plays as a guest of somebody at the club. So are they yelling about the cost of the security detail? I am puzzled.

  103. 103
    Original Lee says:

    @The Moar You Know: This. Several years ago, I was on a committee tasked with hiring a new organist for the church. Nobody else on the committee even played an instrument or sang. The previous organist donated her time to the church as part of her tithe, so nobody had any idea how much it would cost. I talked to a couple of church organists I know, looked on the guild website for rates, devised the audition and interview process, and wrote a contract. The shock that was expressed when I explained that we could MAYBE get a student to come in on Sunday mornings for about $75 a week with first dibs on weddings was amazing to me. They couldn’t understand that it takes a little bit more than just showing up to prepare a prelude, a postlude, an offertory, and all of the hymns – they were thinking of it as $75 for one hour. They didn’t even want to pay for ads – they wanted flyers posted in music departments and music stores. Looking back, I can’t believe how much time and effort I had to put into convincing them that the worker is worthy of his/her hire.

  104. 104
    Mutaman says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Nope:

    1. I’m pretty old school so when I went to law school there weren’t a glut of them.

    2. I said “a good lawyer” those are still pretty scarce.

    But you are right, if i had to do it over again …….

  105. 105
    goblue72 says:

    I’m sorry, but close to $100 grand a year for making pretty signatures IS overpaid when it comes to salaries paid out of our tax dollars. Your average person on the street would be outraged at $100k a year calligraphers and justly so. Especially in an age of high quality printing technology that could do the job for much less. And the only thing that someone being a White House calligrapher for 32 years tells me is that 30 years ago they were a White House calligrapher with 2 years experience and that was apparently perfectly adequate for the White House – and there’s no reason the White House couldn’t find a less experienced calligrapher to do the job perfectly adequately for less. Or to get a computer to do the job instead.

    If the Queen gets offended that her state dinner invitation was printed by a computer instead of by hand, then fuck the Queen – she’s lucky the citizens of Great Britain pay her a salary and provide her multiple palaces to sit on her bum and wave in parades.

    I’ve worked in government, and there IS indeed tremendous amounts of waste and inefficiency, both in terms of useless job positions, workers overpaid for their skill set, and classic goldbrickers – and at rates far higher than I ever found in the private sector. People are people – and that means your average person would prefer to provide the minimal amount of work possible for a paycheck. Its called work after all and not play for a reason. And I don’t blame anyone for it. The threat of getting fired is what gets me to drag my sorry butt into the office on some days. And you don’t have that incentive in government work by and large – where even a dead hooker isn’t enough to get someone fired. So we shouldn’t get the vapors just because someone (even a right wing rag) complains about why we are paying $100k a year to someone to make pretty signatures.

    Is cleaning that up sufficient to solve government budget deficits? Of course not – not even close. Anyone arguing that is not dealing in reality – and should be laughed off the stage immediately. But that’s no reason not to aim at minimizing said waste and inefficiency as much as possible in order to focus our scare public resources on the general public welfare.

  106. 106
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    No one else can be considered overpaid so long as Rush Limbaugh makes $50MM per year.

  107. 107
    Narcissus says:

    @Original Lee: Well when Obama plays golf he gets his black all over it

  108. 108
    Julie says:

    @David in NY: Also, ‘overtime’ for first responders is generally hours above/beyond their regular week, which is usually 48+ hours since they often work 12- and 24-hour rotations. So if you break down their hourly rate for that $60k per year, it’s pretty paltry — especially given the high-stress, technically skilled and occasionally dangerous nature of the work.

  109. 109
    Sondra says:

    Love the article. Does it matter that her woman assitant gets paid less than her male assitant? I say all caligraphers should be paid equally – and Caligulas too.

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