George Clooney and us

Monday - 7/30/2012, 2:00am EDT

I haven't actually met actor George Clooney yet. But I've seen (I think) most of his movies. And we have so much in common:

  • We are both of Irish descent.
  • I lived in Kentucky for three years (he was born in Lexington).
  • I once had very dark hair.
I could go on, but you get the picture.

But as alike as we are, almost peas in a pod (whatever that means), there are certain differences that could be problematic. Differences that could cause certain tensions when we become wanna-hang-out? pals. I would probably envy him for his looks, talent, money, house in Italy, wide assortment of lady friends, dinners with the president, VIP treatment wherever he goes, etc. On the other hand...

George would probably envy me in some respects. He probably wishes he had some of the stuff I have. Unfortunately, I don't have enough space here to list them, but I'm sure there are many.

The point is that it is often human nature to think that somebody else has it better than you. Maybe their lawn is greener, their spouse better looking or nicer. Or they make more money than you do.

It is probably safe to say that many, if not most, Americans think that federal workers are overpaid, underworked or both. Especially if they've never been in government.

It is probably safe to say that many, if not most, federal workers think their private sector counterparts have it made. Bonuses, country club memberships, company cars, big bucks. Whatever.

So who's right? One group of experts says feds earn 58 percent more than people in the private sector. Another group of experts says feds are underpaid by 28 percent. (See Thursday's column for more on that).

Although Fridays in mid-summer are traditionally slow days, Friday's column about "overpaid" feds biting back inspired some people to comment. Here's one from a fed who seems to think that while he was underpaid for years, over the long haul he made the right choice for a variety of reasons:

"Enjoyed the Friday column. Glad you got some guys that spoke up. It's taken 25 years to get to the salary range I'm in. I've got a brother-in-law that seems real bitter about my employment. He is a journalist. (He worked for a major big city newspaper, and when they went on strike he lasted only so long and eventually got a job working for another paper a couple of hundred miles away). He left there and came back closer to home and worked for a large Ohio newspaper for about eight years but with advent of the Internet and newspapers on the Internet, he became expendable and axed. Since then, he's been bouncing around work in the social media area. I never wished anything bad for him or my sister.

"My other sisters say my sister and brother-in-law don't have much, which may have stirred his animosity toward me. I do remember all their European vacations years ago and I couldn't afford those things. I always thought that if he was doing well and could do those things — good for him, and will admit some envy of his situation. I also failed to mention he got a 1,800 square-foot home to my 988 square-foot one. Now, I remember my dad always asking me, 'Are you saving anything?' And I said, 'Yes, I was in the Thrift Savings and was putting in 5 percent early in my career. I didn't push to 10 percent until about five or six years ago and got it to 15 percent just two years ago. My account is worth over $180,000 as we speak, and if the F fund keeps going at its present rate it will be over $190,000 to $195,000 with another 18 months to go. So the whole point of this, is that many in the private sector did a lot of neat things but that I couldn't afford and wished I could done. Maybe if you saved your cash a lot of you wouldn't be complaining as much as us overpaid feds. I always said I'd do those things when I retire. I just hope I won't lose out to cuts." — Anon


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

The official mascots of the 2012 London Olympic Games are a pair of one-eyed, mouthless creatures named Wenlock and Mandeville. Apparently, the pair is supposed to represent "drops of molten steel" that "flecked off a structural beam during the building of the London's Olympics Stadium," Slate reports. But critics contend the duo is "incredibly creepy."