Haynes Johnson's article "Save Public Service" {Jan. 15} was good and timely. However, I suggest it is no small wonder that after successive administrations' trashing and bashing the civil service and at every opportunity replacing civil servants with political appointees, anyone looking for a career with appropriate remuneration and prestige is discouraged from choosing the federal government.

After all, the top federal executive position, the presidency, is a job with awesome responsibility. It weighs in with a base salary of $200,000 per year, while the average corporate executive in the private sector gets a base salary of from $250,000 to $750,000 or more per year. Why should any well-trained, reasonably intelligent individual -- let alone the best and the brightest -- seek a career in the public sector, only to end up in a relatively low paying job, subservient to some political hack who may have achieved his position by carrying a candidate's bags or pandering to a candidate's desires?

Perhaps we need to revise our sense of values. Why not start by bringing private-sector pay in line with the public sector? Surely the president's job is the most important in the country; no position should be worth more than his. Let his salary serve as the cap for all others, both within and outside the government. Then let the best and brightest compete.

This would put things in perspective, reducing the ridiculously inflated worth of some corporate executives and ultimately benefiting the majority of taxpayers and shareholders.

GROVER A. KRONE

Arlington