Letter to the editor
The following letter was directed to Milt Zall, writer of Federal
Computer Week's Bureaucratus column.
I feel compelled to get some frustration off my chest in regard to your
recent column, "Feds deserve
equal pay." I came across it online while searching for information about
In my opinion, you are way off base and I am insulted by the majority
of your comments that were directed at the military pay raise issue. I understand
that you have strong feelings about pay raises for civilian federal employees
and that may be why you threw caution to the wind while discussing your
issues. I would like to break down some of the comments for you.
"I'm not opposed to providing combat pay for those who lay their lives
on the line, but most military personnel are far removed from the battlefield,
performing duties similar to those performed by civilian employees.
"And even if a case can be made that their duties are more demanding,
these people volunteered they weren't drafted. For many, military service
is the only way out of the inner city and a chance for a decent life. Do
we now have to offer even more inducements? Why are military personnel entitled
to more of a raise than feds when annual raises are essentially annual inflation
Here's what I have to say:
1. I was under the understanding that there was no draft for civilian
federal employees, that it too was volunteer. Has something changed? I think
maybe you should look at the word volunteer again when it comes to the military.
Civilian federal employees volunteer for their jobs, however, they can leave
their job if they choose so that they may pursue higher pay or advancement
in their field. Military volunteers are legally bound to their jobs and
leaving is not an option.
2. How dare you stereotype the type of person in the military or why
they choose to enlist totally irresponsible in the year 2002.
3. Gosh, I am glad that if I put my life on the line, you have no problem
with compensating it with money.
4. We may perform similar jobs, but civilian employees get paid based
on approximate hours worked. When I deploy and defend my country from my
"office" on a ship for six straight months, my pay does not reflect my approximate
hours. If it did, I would be too wealthy to bother myself with this letter.
5. I am forced to leave my job every three or so years, pack up my whole
life and family and move so that we can settle down and do it again in another
three or so years. Must be nice to be able to stay in one area as long as
Sir, you missed the mark. The military pay raise is not only for inflation,
it is to resurrect our pay deficiencies. If the military pay raise can only
match the civilian pay raise, then sir, I am sorry, but the government would
go bankrupt before the military was compensated fairly. Add up all of the
salaries for civilian federal employees, then add 4.1 percent. Now do the
same for military members, and you would see your 4.1 percent cost a tremendous
The only way you would have any ground to stand on about equal raises
is if we both had the same pay chart. That's the mark you missed the
military pay chart humanely deserves more consideration, and I applaud President
Bush for trying to do something for those who have no control over the matter.
A response would be appreciated.
Firecontrollman 1st Class Bell
Response from Milt Zall:
There's no question that the sacrifices made by military personnel
are real. But they're not made for money, so talking about comparable raises
really is absurd. As for being "forced" to leave and move every three years,
you're not really being forced to do anything.
You chose to stay in the military, but then you gripe about conditions.
There's no logic here. You can choose a different field of endeavor if you
don't like military life. It's hard for me to understand why you begrudge
civil servants an equal cost-of-living allowance.
Reply from letter-writer:
Mr. Zall, your reply changes my feelings of frustration about how you
express your opinions to concerns about your motives and tactics as a writer.
Your reply ignored every aspect of my letter. I have no problem with pay
raises for civilian federal employees. I think everyone deserves more money,
My reason for writing to you was because I felt insulted as a military
member by some of your comments. I am not one to beat a dead horse, but
let's rehash your reply.
Why is it just because someone is in the military that his or her sacrifices
are for reasons other than money? I love my country, yes. So does that mean
I would (or should) do my job for free? Absolutely not. I love my job, I
love the Navy; it is the career I chose. Why can't I be paid competitively
so that I can afford to stay in?
As for being "forced" to transfer regularly, the answer is yes, I am
"forced." If I want to stay in the military, I must go where and when they
need me. If I wanted to leave my job, I would have to wait until the end
of my current enlistment, which is quite longer than a two-week notice.
I do not gripe about the military, sir. Let me scream to the world that
I love my country, I love my job, I love the Navy, and I won't turn my back
on my elected officials if they feel it is fiscally irresponsible to give
me a raise.
I would never begrudge any person a "cost-of-living increase." I was
just saying that tied into our "cost-of-living increase" is our "let's-start-by-compensating-the-military-fairly
Thank you very much, sir, and let's hope that we both can continue to
prosper at the careers we both admire.
Firecontrollman 1st Class Bell