Normally in the Monday Morning Quarterback column we like to feature a variety of letters. The aim is to give you, your bosses and the community an idea of some of the issues that people care enough about to sit down and write a letter.
But today's column is a one-letter offering from a longtime career federal worker. However, her letter covers a lot of territory.
A recent column reported on a government survey showing most workers were happy along with government fears that offering an early retirement option could produce a stampede to retire. While the two seem in conflict, in fact they make sense.
I've worked in government 29 years and love my job. Where else could I be responsible for monitoring a $300 million program? Where else could I prepare budgets and do reports for the Treasury Department and the White House?
True, I often work late and on weekends without pay. Others do the same. I've also taken night courses and special training. Life isn't boring.
So why would I take early retirement? When I started working for the Navy in 1958 we contributed 6 percent of our pay into what was supposed to be a full-benefit retirement program. That was twice what people paid into Social Security.
We were promised when we retired we could recoup our previously taxed retirement contributions before being taxed again.
We had a decent health plan, pay equity with industry and assured raises for good work. For this we gave up the right to strike and to be active in politics.
So what happened? Congress has changed the rules so many times our heads are spinning. Our retirement system is a budget pawn. Our tax-free post-retirement benefit is gone. We get less, and pay more, for health insurance . . . . Pay equity with industry is a joke. Within-grade raises for good work have become a budget-balancing item.
We are being urged to drop our old retirement system for a "great new one" that is still being played with on Capitol Hill. The Hatch "no politics" Act is being revised to allow politics to enter the civil service scene legally.
Personnel cuts have reduced my agency's work force by half in 10 years, slowing delivery of services. Workloads have increased.
In addition, our chief executive, his Cabinet members and some members of Congress talk about us as though we are responsible for the ills of the country, when what we do is carry out programs they have created, or political promises they want executed.
Now really, does this sound like longtime government workers should stick around and "trust" Uncle Sam to treat us fairly? Should we have morale problems?
I can only answer for myself. I'm too busy to have a morale problem. And no, I don't trust Uncle Sam to look out for me. I am looking forward to becoming a political activist and working for candidates who will support our causes.
I love my job. My office would have a tough time replacing me with two people, but open the door to early retirement and I'm gone!
We are not stupid. We are certainly unappreciated. Why should we stick around? Once retired we are young enough to start new careers or go into politics ourselves.
We can become a voting bloc to be reckoned with, such as Social Security recipients . . . . Lack of appreciation by the administration and Congress will produce a "brain drain" if the opportunity presents itself. M.M., Washington