They call it public service for a reason. No one, except perhaps President Trump and his cabal of corrupt cronies, works for the government to become rich.
People who work for the government know they could earn higher salaries working for private companies, but a sense of duty to their country is generally at least a part of the equation when calculating whether to accept the tradeoff of lower pay for the satisfaction of working for the public good rather than the private profits of corporate oligarchs.
That’s why it was a major scandal when the news of the starting salary for President Trump’s choice for Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, was disclosed a couple of weeks ago.
Dr. Redfield, formerly a renowned AIDS researcher at the University of Maryland Medical School, was used to private sector pay scales that far exceeded the average salary of the previous directors of the government agency, earning a reported $757,100 in salary and bonuses in his prior position.
After his nomination by President Trump, it was revealed that Dr. Redfield would be receiving an annual salary of $375,000, significantly less than his private sector job, but nearly double what previous CDC Directors were paid.
The huge increase in the departments budget caused Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to ask Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, why the new director’s salary was so out of line with previous standards, according to an article on the Government Executive website.
“It is difficult to understand why someone with limited public health experience, particularly in a leadership role, is being disproportionately compensated for his work as compared to other accomplished scientists and public health leaders in comparable roles within the federal government,” Murray wrote to Azar.
Admirably, after the issue became public and the controversy over the disproportionate salary grew, Dr. Redfield agreed to take a salary cut to place him more in line with his predecessors in the job. The Health and Human Services department issued a statement on his behalf.
“Dr. Redfield has expressed to Secretary Azar that he does not wish to have his compensation become a distraction for the important work of the CDC. Therefore, consistent with Dr. Redfield’s request to the Secretary, Dr. Redfield’s compensation will be adjusted accordingly.”
The CDC head’s new salary was announced by the HHS Department today, and it utilizes the same formula as was used for the previous three agancy directors.
“Dr. Redfield is being paid in accordance with the formula used to pay the prior three CDC directors,” Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said on Tuesday. “Using that formula, his compensation for this year will be $209,700.”
Public service may not be as lucrative as the private sector, but those choosing it should be fairly compensated within the guidelines already established, not singled out for special treatment. If only the bulk of Trump’s cabinet could grasp this concept.
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