Last Monday we ran a poll in this space asking readers, federal and otherwise, what they thought about President Reagan's plan to cut federal pay and trim retirement benefits to reduce the deficit.
We promised -- foolishly, we now realize -- to give you the results today.
1)Thanks for all the mail you sent us, and
2) Please, don't send any more mail!
We got your message(s) and we are still counting.
Between Tuesday and Friday (the cutoff day for receiving ballots), we got somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 letters. We will try to give you the final results this week (but no more silly promises as to when).
First returns indicate, as you might expect from a civil service column in a civil service town, that most voters are against the changes. But some feds -- and some nonfederal voters -- did agree that the changes should be made, even though they don't particularly like the idea.
What comes through clearly, and what Congress and the White House should be aware of, are the feelings of anger, frustration and sense of betrayal that many long-time, dedicated career civil servants feel toward their government.
If you fly, take pure food and drugs for granted, like your Social Security check on time or otherwise expect Uncle Sam to deliver what is expected when it is expected, be advised that some of your servants are feeling less than civil these days. They consider 1985 the year of the budget and they consider themselves the designated sacrifical lamb.
Many feds see benefits and salaries, promised them by long-gone lawmakers, being whittled back by a new bipartisan crew with dollar signs where their hearts should be. Feds think they are about to become the primary battering ram against the gates of deficit city.
Many feds say they are willing to take pay cuts, if that will help the nation, but they would like a little company along the way.
Here are some of the comments people attached to their ballots:
* "I have been a Defense Department employe for 31 years and I can tell you federal pay and pensions are a long way from what the general public thinks they are. No stock options, no expense accounts, no company matched investment accounts. All studies show that government managers are underpaid relatively to their commercial counterparts. Why are we being made the scapegoats for the federal deficit?"
* "There should be trust between an employe and employer. The government should honor its commitment. If the administration wants to change retirement benefits for entry level people and they understand and accept it, that is fine.
". . . The sad thing is that none of the Reagan administration people will be around when the impact of bright young people who chose not to enter the government is felt.
My daughter's roommate has a 3.9 average (chemical engineering) at Catholic U. She works part time for the government. . . . The agency wants her, but she said with the pay cut threat, retirement benefits cutbacks, etc., she is going to private enterprise."
Korean War vet from Washington.
* "Please tell them to stop beating on us. We are regular people, and taxpayers too. They are making us sound like coddled criminals. Enough."