Opinion: High government salaries are a waste of tax dollars

Zack Higdon

A report released by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill showed that members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) have received a substantial amount of money in bonuses during the most recent recession. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s website, members of the SES serve just below Presidential appointees, making them some of the highest officials in the government. These officials received more than 340 million dollar bonuses between 2008 and 2011. The report showed that about 81% of SES members received bonuses. These bonuses are in addition to their $119,000 to $179,000 yearly salaries. Government bonuses are far too great.

There are a few different bonuses that employees can receive. In 2011, the majority of bonuses, 86%, were based on ratings. The remaining 14% were cash awards that were not linked the employee’s rating. Members can also receive Presidential Rank Awards. Winners of this award receive 20% to 35% of their annual pay, based on their rank. Between 2008 and 2011, 1,070 SES members received a total of over $39 million, which amounts to over $36,000 per person.

In 2011, the General Services Administration awarded more than $1.1 million in bonuses, which averages out to 1.6 bonuses for each employee in that agency. The Department of Labor averaged 1.2 bonuses per employee, the National Science Foundation had 1.1 bonuses per, and the Department of the Navy had 1.02 per employee. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission paid out the most per employee at over $16,000, followed by the National Science Foundation at over14,000, and in third place, the Department of the Navy at over $13,000.

It seems like when it comes to awarding bonuses, the United States national and state governments work like big businesses, where all the CEOs and higher up executives are awarded large sums of money while the low level workers are cut back on their hours or fired to save the company money. On top of these bonuses, higher up employees are making a good amount already with their annual salaries. On the higher end, members are making almost $15,000 a month before taxes. With that kind of cash, there is no need for large bonuses during a time when the economy is struggling. There is actually no need for government salaries that large, especially when the government is in major debt.

The national debt is over $16 trillion and the government still decides to waste massive amounts of money. This is just a small insight into how the United States Government operates. I’m sure the government wastes larger amounts of money on even less then worthy causes. There is a lot more wasteful spending that the general public has no idea about. Common sense would say that you should make cut backs and cut off unnecessary spending while in debt. The U.S. Government clearly doesn’t understand that; which is the reason why the national debt continues to rise.

State governments have economic challenges as it is, such as education. Saved money could be used to hire more teachers so that there are smaller classes or be used to provide new books for students. In a nation that is far behind other countries in many subjects, wasteful spending should be used to improve education if the government chooses not to use the money to pay its massive amount of debt. If wasteful spending continues, the citizens and United States as a whole will end up suffering when the debt is called up. Changes need to be made in able to sustain a strong economy and powerful and successful country.