Letter to the Editor

I beg to differ with Milt Zall in both fact and opinion with regard to his April 9 column in Federal Computer Week, "Pay parity."

He decries President Bush's proposed military pay raise without a corresponding mention of the civilian work force, based on some misleading (at best) and outright false (at worst) assertions.

He writes, "There's no good reason to treat feds and military personnel differently." Well hallelujah! If only that really were the case, the military would receive matching Thrift Savings Plan contributions, a 40-hour workweek and optional mobility.

Please, Mr. Zall, come join us being treated equally in government-sponsored hellholes all over the world. You and your ilk may then also benefit from hostile-fire pay and various other incentives. Based on the aforementioned considerations, similarly rated military grades receiving higher pay than their civilian counterparts seem an only fair, albeit a ridiculous fantasy.

You want documentation? OK, let's look at it in terms of civilian vs. military performance, since that appears to be the crux of the matter you are attempting to examine anyway. The American military has been doing more with less on a continually shrinking budget for the past 10 years. A lot more. While at the same time, overall government spending and budgets have increased. Maybe we really do deserve a raise more than you? Hmm.

Why are recruiting and retention goals not being achieved? Because we have long since passed the limit of what I stated in the last paragraph. Good soldiers, sailors and airmen are smart enough to know when they've been had. So they leave to get real jobs with decent pay and an opportunity for a normal family life. It's simple cause and effect.

Furthermore, I wholeheartedly agree with the president's call to produce cuts "in the number of managerial layers in the upper echelons of government." While you, in your next sentence, seem more concerned with getting a raise for these relatively highly paid bureaucrats whose positions may realistically be entirely done away with for the sake of efficiency and fiscal responsibility. Maybe we need some "documentation" on that count.

And here's a news flash for you, sir: No president's policies, current or past "create[d] a pay disparity between military and civilian government employees," as you would imply. That disparity has always existed and will continue to exist, but it's really the other way around. Only policies like the recently established program to eliminate the need for food stamps to military members will do anything to close the gap which so disturbs you.

I realize it is hard not to speak from where you stand, and I am certainly doing so now. But using a public forum such as Federal Computer Week to make dubious comparisons in support of an argument that basically amounts to whining about your pay at the military's expense is a bit hard to swallow for people like me who may be called upon to put our lives on the line for you and every other citizen of this country — regardless of rank, position or title.

Master Sgt. Paul Shaffer
Air Force

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