What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 25, 2012

The Trib Misleads. Again.

Take a look at this:
The Federal Salary Council ciphers that federal employees earn 34 percent less than their private-sector counterparts and that the “pay gap” jumped 8 percentage points since last year. But two Junes ago, the private American Enterprise Institute concluded federal employees earn 14 percent more than their private counterparts. See what happens when you let government types study reality?
See that?  It's a clear cut indictment of yet another flawed guv'ment study.  The study's invalidated, of course, by an American Enterprise Institute report that purports to look at the same thing.

Of course the $7.8 million dollars (unadjusted for inflation) in financial support that Trib owner Richard Mellon Scaife has given to AEI has nothing to do with any of this.

But there's a deeper question: Is there an actual reason (besides the one Scaife's paid for) the percentages are different?

Turns out there is.  In this GAO study from this past June there's an explanation, though you can see a hint of it in the title:
Results of Studies on Federal Pay Varied Due to Differing Methodologies
Huh.  You don't say.  And what are these differing methodologies?

First here's the list of the different studies (I've highlighted the studies that concern us here):
  • Comparing Federal and Private Sector Compensation, Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, June 2011. (Co-author Richwine is from The Heritage Foundation.)
  • Federal Pay Continues Rapid Ascent, Chris Edwards, The Cato Institute, August 2009.
  • Report on Locality-Based Comparability Payments for the General Schedule, Annual Report of the President’s Pay Agent 2010, The President’s Pay Agent, March 2011.
  • Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors, The Project On Government Oversight, September 2011.
  • Inflated Federal Pay: How Americans Are Overtaxed to Overpay the Civil Service, James Sherk, The Heritage Foundation, July 2010.
Hey, did you know that the co-author of the AEI study is a Heritage Foundation guy?  I didn't.  I guess we can add the $24 million Scaife's funnelled to Heritage (again, unadjusted for inflation) as another reason why his braintrust would be supporting the AEI analysis over the Fed's.

But back to the GAO study.  Here's what they say initially about the differing methodologies:
All of the selected studies except for the President’s Pay Agent compared federal to private sector pay and total compensation. The President’s Pay Agent compared federal to nonfederal pay (not benefits) and defined nonfederal as private sector, state government, and local government.
Do I need to tell you that the "President's Pay Agent" is the Federal Study Council?

So do you think that maybe just maybe that might explain the difference so easily dismissed by Scaife's braintrust?

See what happens when you let an ideologically based editorial board of a newspaper owned by a billionaire who's been funding right wing think tanks for decades study the difference between a guv'ment study and one funded by that same billionaire??

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