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Government Service

June 30, 1988

Your excerpt of Harvard University President Derek Bok's commencement speech (Opinion, June 19) on the fading attraction of government service to young graduates was right on target. When I came out of law school, the attraction of making a career as a government attorney was strong, offering instant opportunity for courtroom experience coupled with the possibility, if I liked my work, of building a career in public service.

Twenty-two years later I am still on the job, but I can see only too clearly how the opportunities I had when I went to work are no longer what they once were. Over the years, the retirement program, which provided my generation a strong motivation for making a career in government service, has been reduced to a point where young graduates cannot look ahead and feel that they will be appropriately provided for if they stay with government.

Unless current attitudes among politicians toward their employees shift significantly in the near future, the situation will be even bleaker for those who might consider government service, not only in terms of retirement benefits but also in terms of salary. That is particularly true, as Bok points out, where those attitudes are reflected in militantly tight-fisted negotiating on the part of management at the bargaining table.

Unless the voters are willing to let their representatives know that they want government employees treated with the same respect that they expect from their own employers, they will be subjecting themselves to poorer government, government by mediocrity.

ARNOLD LESTER

Rancho Palos Verdes

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