The Golden State has some very highly paid employees, but that's not the whole story
Who’s allowed to be greedy?
While progressives rail against CEOs’ seven-, eight- and nine-figure pay packages, Republicans reliably attack unions and the far more meager salaries of public sector workers. Public vs. private sector pay is a charged and unresolved partisan issue, but a few state employees who abuse the system or get lucky can be a more potent talking point for conservatives than more fundamental problems in how states take in and spend money.
While workers in Michigan fight to maintain union protections, Bloomberg has a scathing piece that illustrates how public sector unions in California are draining state coffers. While the piece, the first of a six-part series on state payrolls (Drool!), could provide plenty of fodder to Tea Party types, the takeaway is more complex than the usual left-right tug-of-war:
Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.
The story homes in on state psychiatrists:
Mohammad Safi, graduate of a medical school in Afghanistan, collected $822,302 last year, up from $90,682 when he started in 2006, the data show. …
Last year, 16 psychiatrists on California’s payroll, including Safi, made more than $400,000. Only one did in any other state in the data compiled by Bloomberg, a doctor in Texas. Safi earned more than twice as much as any state psychiatrist elsewhere, the data show.
Now, my father is a psychiatrist and so is my sister. I generally wish the profession good fortune. But to put Safi’s pay into perspective, a Manhattan shrink who sees 40 patients a week 52 weeks a year at $300 per session would gross $624,000.
Safi and other well-paid psychiatrists, however, don’t represent California public workers as a whole. According to Bloomberg, the average pay of a California state worker was $60,317 in 2011, the highest out of the 12 most populous states. Next came New York at $55,650. Georgia paid state employees an average of $28,682.
And the highest-paid state employees? They’re frequently football and basketball coaches, earning several times the pay of governors and university presidents.
More Related Stories
- Apple's biggest sin: Popularity
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- When America became a third-world country
- Wikipedia cleans up its mess
- Should wunderkinds be allowed to drop out of high school?
- Former IRS commissioner to testify on Capitol Hill
- Apple uses foreign companies to avoid billions in taxes
- IRS meltdown was long overdue
- Pentagon adviser pushed Anthrax drug, which his firm produced
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- How to screw up Tumblr
- Big Soda SNAP-ing up billions off government programs
- Yahoo shells out $1.1 billion for Tumblr
- Xenophobia only benefits the 1 percent
- Paul Krugman's right: Austerity kills
- How Guantanamo affects China: Our human rights hypocrisies
- Growing, lurking threat: "Paper terrorism"
- How right-wingers use semantic tricks to kill government
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11