On Oct. 8, we carried the letter of a schoolteacher married to a government scientist. She said he loves his work, but they have concluded his extended education was a waste of time and money. At 43 he makes $44,000. She is paid $38,000 per year. They live in the Maryland suburbs.

The teacher said they can no longer afford his idealism. She said he is looking for a better-paying job in industry.

Dozens of readers responded; only two took her side. One said her comments reflect the feelings of thousands of federal scientists. Another included want ads from a medical trade paper showing private clinics outbidding the federal government by as much as $40,000 per year. But most readers said the couple is out of touch with reality. For example:

"My advice to the federal scientist's wife: Stop worrying! Your family income of almost $80,000 . . . means you make more than 90 percent of all U.S. families whose taxes pay your husband's salary.

"Many people with and without PhDs earn less than $44,000 a year at difficult and demanding jobs . . . like university professors, nurses, police officers and firefighters who risk their lives daily for less money.

"If you can't make it on $80,000 per year you need financial management help. If your husband is so compulsive he won't take {a} vacation or spend weekends with his family . . . all of you need family counseling.

"As a federal worker I find her letter embarrassing. Out here beyond the Beltway, taxpayers have little sympathy for families who have to scrape by on 'only' $80,000 per year." C.L. Charlottesville

"Her letter . . . did nothing to generate sympathy from me. I find it hard to fathom why, on a salary of $78,000, they are so poor they can't afford braces for their son.

" . . . I must assume it was their decision to stay in school an extra 10 years before entering the work force, so the responsibility for those lost years of income must be theirs.

"Since the husband . . . enjoys his work and has been successful she should be aware of how fortunate he is to be able to be working in a field of his choice and get off his back about his salary." B.F. Woodbridge

" . . . Her letter is a near-perfect example of what is basically wrong with the attitudes of most people in public service:

"She says it was a mistake to view a PhD degree as a good investment. In fact it was . . . if you want to have tremendous satisfaction knowing something about the world you live in and doing satisfying work each day; work that people without that advantage would give their right arms for, the same right arms that must perform tedious and repetitious labor.

"She complains they must live 'in a modest house' along with other financial drawbacks. Her attitude is not just 'the world owes me a living' but 'the world owes me a really good living.' This couple has no idea how really deprived people are forced to live. If they did they would thank their lucky stars.

" . . . Her arguments encapsulate what's wrong with society. These people, who unfortunately form the majority of those in government service, don't know or understand the public they serve, the same public which pays them and which they are responsible to." S.K. Greenbelt