Imagine working for a firm that says it is bloated and inefficient, overstaffed by people who get paid too much and who retire with too much too soon?

Suppose top management bought the recommendations of a group of outside "experts" who said much of the company's business should be turned over -- to a group of outside experts?

Suppose your board of directors had more than 500 members. What if they had to run for office every couple of years? Suppose the board ordered you to do things -- some of them very unpopular -- a certain way, then beat you over the head for doing what you were told?

What if the current chief executive officer, a nice guy personally, surrounded himself with people who distrust and often dislike the people they are supposed to lead?

Suppose the company gave you some good news and some bad news. And the "good" news is that a proposed 5 percent pay cut might last only one year?

What if top management figured that the company's low turnover rate meant people are paid too much, not that they might like their jobs and feel proud of what they are doing?

If that sounds familiar, welcome to the U.S. government, as many of its 2.8 million employes see it.

Civil servants, the original grin-and-bear-it bunch, the survivors, have had a very rough year. Now they are told they haven't seem anything yet!

Although polls taken by the government show that federal workers feel they never had it so good, talks with civil servants say otherwise.

"I have never been so demoralized in my life," says an Army civilian program manager who said he had considered himself "a lifer" until recently.

"They aren't leaving us anything," writes an Agriculture Department scientist. "Many of us are in the federal government because we think this is an exciting place to be, and we are making a contribution that we couldn't make in the private sector. Pay and benefits have been good, not the best, but good. Now they are stripping us of all of it. I'm not going to say flatly that I am getting out, but I am thinking about it as never before."

"This idea of cutting pay is assinine," writes a Bureau of Labor Statistics career worker. "And the data they are using to justify these alleged economies is either being badly interpreted, or it is fake."

"My family has a tradition of public service," says a young Foreign Service officer. "My father and his father were career military. Poor eyesight kept me out. Now I am doing my bit, and friends and neighbors are being told I am a drone and a drag on society. The family tradition may end with yours truly!"

"What the Office of Personnel Management is doing," a former postal official writes, "is exactly what the government did when it wanted to convert the old Post Office Department into a government corporation. It turned on the 'bad news' machine and got Congress and the public to believing the institution was rotten and ripe for reform. It got reformed all right. In case you hadn't noticed, next year's increase in first-class mail rates will mean a 650 percent price increase since the late 1950s."

"We've seen, heard and read all the antiemploye propaganda," says an OPM worker. "How about letting people know how we civil servants feel?" Fair enough. Check this space Sunday and Monday.