President Reagan's plan to freeze government pay and retirement benefits has not been well received here, where most of us either work for the government or deal with folks who do.
When Washington area children are naughty, parents threaten to call in Donald Devine (the president's personnel chief) rather than the traditional bogeyman. We are different here.
Realizing that, the administration is concentrating most of its "reform" effort beyond the beltway.
So what are people out there hearing, reading and saying about you and your job? Here is an editorial by Durwood McAlister just as it ran in last Sunday's Atlanta Journal:
"There are more than 60,000 federal workers in Georgia who aren't going to be happy with me for saying this, but I hope President Reagan is successful in his attempts to freeze their wages and trim their retirement benefits. It's time for them to come back into the real world.
"That is not a denigration of the U.S. civil service, nor of the people who work in it; it is simply a recognition that the benefits offered federal workers--at taxpayer expense--have gotten too far out of line with the private sector.
"Federal union leaders would argue with that. They contend that the average federal employe is paid 18 percent less than his counterpart in the private sector, and they point to a government survey as proof.
"The Reagan people like to cite Chamber of Commerce studies which show just the opposite. Those surveys say the average federal salary is 35 percent higher than those in the private sector.
"The truth lies somewhere in between. The survey cited by the federal unions excluded, for comparsion purposes, all private sector firms with fewer than 250 employes, and all state and local government jobs.
"When those are factored in and a job-for-job comparision is made, the average federal worker draws 11 percent more than the worker in a non-federal job.
"Other factors make federal employment attractive. Generous sick leave policy, excellent job security, and four weeks of vacation after three years service make federal employes the envy of most in the private sector.
"But the biggest benefit enjoyed by federal workers, and that which is becoming too costly to continue, is an over-generous retirement system. Nearly half of all federal employes retire before age 60, compared with only 7 percent in the private sector, and little wonder.
"A federal employe retiring at age 55 with a $15,000 salary can expect to draw $454,041 during his first 20 years in retirment. A private worker making the same amount and waiting until age 65 to retire could expect only $193,849 over a comparable period.
"The contrast is even greater at higher levels of pay. A federal worker retiring at 55 with a $40,000 salary can look forward to $1,184,793 in 20 years. His private counterpart, retiring at the same age and salary, will draw only $257,730.
"Most of the cost of that generous system is being borne, not by the federal workers, but by the taxpayers. In the years 1960 to 1981 employe contributions grew by 437 percent. During the same period, government contributions increased 2,351 percent.
"It't time to call a halt. Among other things, President Reagan has proposed that the contributions workers make to the CS retirement fund be raised from 7 percent of their salaries to 11 percent.
"That proposal has been rejected by the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee. But it still must be considered by other committees and the full Congress.
"The federal workers are doing some powerful lobbying. It is not too late for others to let their congressmen know how they feel."
Did the Journal get a lot of mail? You bet! In fact, today it devotes its entire letters-to-the-editor page to comments--mostly from angry Georgia feds--who took issue with the editorial.