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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Is Paying a Bus Driver $38,000 a Year Generous?

Is Paying a Bus Driver $38,000 a Year Generous?

Friday, 20 May 2011 04:55

Apparently it is, according to a front page news story in the Washington Post on a budget provision approved by the Montgomery County Council that would require county employees to pay much more for their health care. The article notes that range of salaries for county employees, beginning with bus drivers who earn $38,000 a year.

It then tells readers:

"But the way they [the increased employee payments for health care] were passed shows what happens when a wealthy, liberal county is forced to confront years of political accommodation and generous spending."

Comments (12)Add Comment
written by foosion, May 20, 2011 5:56
Paying bus drivers $38,000/year is very generous, as that's a lot of money. We can't raise marginal tax rates on income above $250,000 because people struggle to get by on that amount.

By the way, the recession has nothing to do with state and local finances. Barely deserves a mention.

Is that clear now?
written by Paul Benjamin, May 20, 2011 6:43
Why don't the newspapers ever complain about the overpayment of editor and reporters in the failing newspaper business? Funny how it is never the employe fault that the papers are going broke.
Generosity is relative to salary
written by David, May 20, 2011 7:42
The reason reporters buy into the "too generous" meme is that $38,000 is probably close to a WP journalist's starting salary. And they can remember getting paid much less than that right out of J-school. It's all about wage envy.
written by wally, May 20, 2011 7:49
What this is about is crabs-in-a-barrel.

People who make real money just snicker at this kind of conflict among the grunts.
wedge salary reporting
written by frankenduf, May 20, 2011 8:08
David and wally hit the nail on the head- the feigned chagrin in reporting (less than!) middle class wages attempts to stoke lower middle class envy- there are so much more lower class than upper class citizens- the double standard for reporting rich salaries is to feign fatalism- we are "forced" to keep wages in line for the masses, while there's nothing we (Geithner et al) can do about about skyrocketing personal profiteering of the finacial elites
written by kharris, May 20, 2011 8:23
"People who make real money just snicker at this kind of conflict among the grunts."

It wasn't till I read this that I realized "just snicker at" and "foment" mean the same thing.
Wages just used to be too high
written by paul, May 20, 2011 9:11
$38K today is the equivalent of $16,300 back in 1982, when I started working for a living. And coincidentally that's about what the interchangeable bevy of assistants in the ad sales department were making. Or, as the WSJ reported at the time, flight attendants for regional airlines. Most of both groups still lived with their parents, and none would have even considered supporting a family on that money without another wage-earner or public assistance.
written by dilbert dogbert, May 20, 2011 10:37
I wonder how many Journamalists have DUIs and can't get the ticket to drive a bus?
Reading the article you find...
written by Nate, May 20, 2011 3:02
...bus drivers were used as the low-end example in this single sentence: "County salaries vary widely, from $38,000 a year for a bus driver to $172,000 for a child psychiatrist..." This article isn't about bus drivers, it's about a fiscal crisis in a county that has had its property tax base decimated by the recession. The title of this blog post would have been just as accurate as "Is Paying a Child Psychiatrist $172,000 a Year Generous?"
written by Jay, May 20, 2011 6:00
I am sure they can afford those $500,000 plus houses next to contractors and senior government officials in Montgomery Co. Those bus drivers and their golden parachutes.
written by liberal, May 20, 2011 7:27
Jay wrote,
I am sure they can afford those $500,000 plus houses next to contractors and senior government officials in Montgomery Co.

That's the real scandal. I live in MontCo, and it's clear from driving around and reading the Post (they did an excellent series on this a few years ago) that the real scandal is the land development policy, which aims to keep residential density low. It's a real windfall for people who already own land, and screws everyone else.
written by jerry, May 22, 2011 7:03
It has been ironic to watch as lower wage people get sucked into arguing amongst themselves over the few crumbs that "trickle-down" economics has yielded to them, they stupidly engage in warring against one another, as the "other half" hide behind their gated communities and laugh at us all.
What fools we are!

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.