Washington may be a government town. But not everybody here is happy about the January raises that are due for 533,000 area federal workers, retirees and military personnel.

Many of those employees feel that the raises are too little or too late. Many of the federal workers not receiving the increases complain that all the raises mean to them are the higher prices that seem to accompany each upward adjustment of U.S. pay or pensions.

Today's leadoff letters to the Monday Morning Quarterback reflect the non-federal view of the raises. Other readers comment on pending early-retirement proposals:

"There is something unsettling about your frequent references . . . to cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients and federal retirees. At times you appear to be a cheerleader for a higher consumer price index, which will produce a greater COLA for the affected groups. Moreover, you refer to the COLAs as 'raises.'

"The scary point . . . is that everyone in this country suffers when living costs advance. Buying power is reduced and wealth is extracted as surely as if it had been taxed away. If Congress legislates a COLA, it is an adjustment to restore buying power. It's not a raise! What we all need . . . is responsible {policies} that will result in a stable currency." Dale Heald, Gaithersburg

"I realize you are under pressure {from retirees} to report the monthly changes in living costs. However, I wish it could be made clear that the January pension increases, or raises for federal workers, are of no benefit to those of us in the private sector.

"Publicity about pending COLAs and raises no doubt encourages price increases for everyone. As a private sector worker, I haven't had a raise in over two years. Moreover, I have never heard of a private pension plan that gives its retirees regular COLAs." B.H., Bethesda

"Early-out bills only seem to talk about civilians who fall within five years of qualifying for retirement under regular rules. Question: Does the bill by Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) or the bill by Rep. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) allow workers to retire at any age if they have at least 25 years of service? I know many people who fall in this category (i.e. have not yet reached age 50) who would be interested in the answer. Any word?" M.G. Flesham, Hampton

{Good news, bad news! Roth's bill would allow early retirement in any of the following combinations: At age 50 with 20 years of service; 55 with 15 years' service; 57 with five years' service or at any age with 25 years' service. Bad news. His plan won't go anywhere unless congressional Democrats and unions let it. They object because he wouldn't allow agencies to replace people who retire early. Boxer's bill doesn't address the question of retirement after 25 years' service.}

"Many federal workers would retire immediately now if Congress restored the three-year recovery rule to allow retirees to get back their previously taxed retirement fund contributions before their annuities are taxed, or if the lump-sum pension tax was eliminated." Henry Tamura, Aiea, Hawaii