In today's Monday Morning Quarterback, a Virginia doctor says he sees too many healthy, middle-aged federal "retirees" on the golf course. The widow of a federal retiree says survivor benefits aren't a gravy train, and other readers take after the merit pay concept. Their comments:
* "I have been impressed over the years that during the week the golf course is crowded with middle-aged retired goverment workers. It is . . . not unusual to find many people who have retired on "early outs' from the government. These people are in the majority enjoying good health in their middle years and often have second and third occupations.
"A recent furor occurred in Fairfax County when the superintendent of schools was offered a salary package of $157,000 annually, half salary and half to compensate him for lost retirement benefits. By all accounts he is a fine professional educator and I do not find fault with him. But there is surely sommething wrong with a system that allows a "public servant" to retire at age 55 (the prime of life) with a retirement income of $75,000 a year . . . or $20 an hour for the rest of his life. This amount to be paid by taxpayers whose income is probably $8 to $10 an hour.
"The general public simply does not know the extent and ease of obtaining substantial retirement benefits at an early age at all levels of government. The term "public servant" is now a mockery." Doctor in Purcellville.
* "This is in answer to the "ex-G Girl" whose letter appeared last week. [The letter said the real "drain" on the federal retirement fund comes from benefits paid to spouses, who never worked for the government, of government workers.]
"I am the survivor of a federal employee who has been dead for 14 years. When my husband died there was no bank account, home or car. There was a 4-year-old child to support.
We get an income of less than $900 per month from the government. I cannot work outside the home due to bad health. I baby-sit to supplement our income.
"I worked in the private sector (the firm had no pension plan), and won't be eligible for my Social Security for another eight years. I hope this shows that not everyone is as well-heeled as ex-G Girl thinks they are." E. S. in Maryland.
* "In a past survey you took concerning merit pay raises I offered the comment, as did many others, that it was a good idea but unworkable. Now that a "reformed" system is about to be put in practice, I hope someone keeps a close watch on who gets the raises.
". . . I know of an agency (mine) where an employee was fired without a face-to-face meeting with anyone in the middle- or upper-level supervisory chain. Not by the director, not by the chief of personnel, not the chief of employee relations. . . . None of these people directly involved in this case would qualify for a rating of 'fully successful.'" H. H. in Arlington.
* "In an attempt to get more for the buck, the concept of 'merit pay' was introduced by the Carter administration. It is one of those deceptive buzz words, like 'comparability pay' or 'freedom of choice' or 'equal rights amendment.' But let's tell it like it is. The [limited amount of] money set aside for merit pay raises ensures that the money will be paid out according to an artificial formula.
"Merit pay does not increase productivity. If it does, please have someone prove it. Also prove that it improves morale, and is completely honest. My field is training of federal employes and personnel management and I know merit pay is a big mistake and a fraud." T. L. in Vienna.