Why does The Post, in both its editorials and news stories, seem always to seek to inflame opinion and drum up support for curtailing federal retiree pensions through half-truths and invalid statistics?

In "Uncle Sam's Dual Standards" {front page, Jan. 23}, figures are used to show that a $10,000 pension of someone who retired in 1967 would today be worth $10,988 after adjustment for inflation. This gave rise to the statement that there is a "long-term trend in federal life: a growth in the value of retirement benefits." But there is no such ongoing long-term trend, as the chart accompanying the story clearly shows.

The increase in pension value over inflation since 1967 is almost solely the result of the cost of living adjustments in 1969-1975 under a legal formula that included a 1 percent "kicker." That formula has been eliminated, and any analysis of current or long-term trends that includes the years prior to 1975 is unfair and misleading. In fact, as the chart accompanying the story reveals, since 1975 federal pensions have lost ground to inflation.

Using the same type of calculation as was used in the story, a pension worth about $11,300 in 1975 is worth only $11,000 today. A person who retired in 1978 with a $10,000 pension would, after inflation adjustment, be receiving only $9,565 today. Thus, the true long-term trend on the basis of current law and policies is for a gradually eroding pension.


As a retired federal employee, I am outraged that workers today are not given raises that approximate the (modest) inflation rate. However, "Uncle Sam's Dual Standards" is most unfair to federal retirees. Quoting the House civil service subcommittee, the article states on the front page that "the $10,000 salary earned in 1967 by an experienced GS-9 employee, despite all the raises since, has deteriorated to $8,244 today when inflation is taken into account."

Only when one turns to Page A6 and reads the explanations on the graph there does one find that the figure of $8,244 "does not take into account . . . 'step increases.' "

Any employee who was a GS-9 in 1967 and is still a GS-9 in 1988 would have had some 10 longevity -- i.e., step -- increases over the years. Step increases are practically automatic in the civil service.

I do not have the data to calculate just what a GS-9's salary would now be in terms of constant 1967 dollars. But let's take the very conservative assumption that in 1967 the GS-9's step increases were about $250 and add $2,500 (for 10 step increases at 1967 rates) to the $8,244. This means the salary would be $10,744 in 1967 dollars, which is much closer to the $10,000 salary.

The point is that if statisticians are going to include the excess over inflation of the retired workers' cost of living adjustments, they should also include the active workers' step increases. If statisticians would do so, they they would find that the differences are not so great. LLOYD B. SWIFT Bethesda