Dear Shakers And Movers, Business Tycoons, Labor Moguls, And Economic Mavens, Whether In Or Out Of The Administration:

Please be advised that we of the lower classes took great interest in yesterday's news stories about the strategies you think would be most likely to curtail inflation.

We are glad to see that you have finally recognized the need for remedial action, but we can't understand why it took you so long. The average wage earner and housewife recognized the problem a decade ago. Where were you guys during all those years -- out to lunch? Or just out of touch?

The administration has sent out 500 telegrams to reassure business that there will be no price freeze, and to ask businessmen not to raise their prices in anticipation of a freeze.

Good heavens, gentlemen! Don't any of you visit retail stores with some sort of regularity? Don't you read advertisements? Aren't you aware that your telegrams are too little and too late because prices have already been raised to such riduculous heights that "temporary" markdowns are commonplace?

Business and labor have both been playing the inflation game for so many years that it is no longer possible for either side to unscramble the egg.

Now that you decision makers have finally awakened from your little snooze, you have as much chance to turn back the clock as Rip van Winkle had when he returned to consciousness.

The big difference between you and Rip is that when he woke up he didn't send out any telegrams.

The A. C. Nielsen Co. says more than 80 billion cents-off coupons were distributed in this country last year -- an average of about 1,200 per household.

It is absurd to have to search through hundreds of coupons before going to the store, but manufacturers intent on guarding against a price freeze have maintained high "regular" prices that have virtually forced us to do it. Anybody who pays the "regular" price and doesn't use the coupons is, in effect, being overcharged.

Manufacturer's rebates are available on everything from automobiles to smoke alarms. Here, too, those who do not apply for the rebates (and keep records to make sure they are eventually paid) are being overcharged.

Half-price sales and one-cent sales also abound. They entice the consumer to buy everything from two hamburgers to two bottles of drain cleaner for the price of one.

It has occurred to every housewife in the land that if the manufacturer can afford to sell two bottles of grummix or flebecite for $1.99, his "regular" price of $1.98 for one bottle is a gross overcharge. Housewives knew that prices had gone crazy years ago, but you guys who make the big decisions deluded yourselves into believing that your voluntary guideline policy was working. C'mon guys, get in the game.

I'll tell you another thing that sticks in our craws down here at the peon level.

You keep talking about a gasoline tax, to take effect after the election. Also gas rationing, to be implemented after the election. And credit controls, to be imposed after the election -- but not on housing or automobiles, of course, because the largest expenditures the average family makes are for housing and automobiles.

Apparently you want to clamp down rigid credit controls on the purchase of chewing gum, facial tissue, cat food and umbrellas, but not on our biggest expenditures.

And you don't even want to debate any of these possibilities until after the election because taking a position now might lose you a few votes.

You insult our intelligence.

If these moves are needed, they're needed now -- not after you make sure you've been elected to your soft jobs. A public official who puts off an action that would benefit the nation because he'd rather benefit himself is unworthy of holding office. We don't wish you any bad luck personally, gents; we just hope every damn one of you who plays this kind of game is defeated in the next election. Once you're out of office, perhaps you'll have the time to visit retail stores and read ads and figure out what needs to be done, and when.

Then you can join us in writing letters of this kind to the shakers and the movers who have so much trouble finding out what the man in the street has known for years.

If has been said that a politician is a man who can figure out which way a parade is moving; an office-holder is a politician who was smart enough to rush to the head of the parade and give the impression he was leading it.

So how come you guys had so much trouble just finding out on which street the parade was being held?

We remain yours except for the prior claims of mortgage holders and installment collectors, The Lower Classes