Letter to the Editor
Equal raises still leave pay disparity
I have only been reading Milt Zall's Bureaucratus column for the past six or seven issues, so it is possible that I have misunderstood the purpose of his writings in "Equal raises for all."
I am sure that those pieces of text used in your article are taken from much larger replies, so I hope you realize where I am coming from with the following comments. I know I don't have full knowledge of those messages.
Reading the comments you cited from other readers, I do not understand how the statement, "the gist of these comments is that military personnel walk on water and deserve higher pay," is rooted in fact. I did not get that perception at all. I believe that those readers are trying to get a point across that, in the military, if equal pay raises for the same work are approved, then it is still not equal because there is a pay disparity already.
In my local environment, a fed doing the same job as a military person would make two to three times as much money. If they both receive an equal 3 percent pay raise, there still is a big difference. But remember that the federal employee would not have to pick up and move in three to five years, be called in to fix problems on the weekends, be given short-notice temporary duty orders or have to conform to standards that do not apply to all people in that work center.
I also feel that your comment, "military personnel are less affected by inflation because many get government-provided housing and food," is totally inaccurate. First of all, military personnel do not "get" housing they pay for it by giving up an allocated amount that is determined by rank. They also have to purchase insurance, phones, etc. And the food is not provided by the government either. If you eat in a dining facility on a base, you give up the allowance that is provided to purchase food items. If you don't have access to a "chow hall," you have to purchase food in the local economy, just like everyone else.
As a retired federal employee, I would hope that you would have remembered those facts.
It would be nice to "vote with your feet" whenever you are unhappy, try to get better starting pay or have a better career ladder. But in the military, those are fixed tracks (set by Congress but you already knew that).
And there are other reasons for being in government (notice I didn't say military) work besides pay: How about loyalty to your country, a sense of pride and honor. If no one wants to be a federal worker or in the military, how would the country function at those levels? These are not "crybabies" complaining. These are concerned citizens trying to do a hard job.
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