The enormous pay raise being proposed for federal officials is wrong (Part I, Dec. 13). Leaving aside the untold billions it will add to the cost of government (salaries plus retirement pay), I believe that higher federal salaries--with the exception of the President--will give us worse government, not better. Here's why:
Incumbency is the major problem with government today. Just look at Congress. The nation would be served far better if senior representatives, senators and top-level career civil servants were encouraged to seek employment elsewhere. There should be a disparity, and a significant one, between top government and corporate salaries, to create a strong incentive to leave the government after a period of service.
The United States possesses an enormous reservoir of talented people eager and willing to serve. There is no shortage of skill or talent at any pay level. Service in government should be a steppingstone to careers in the private sector. Our system was founded on that principle, but it seems to have been lost somewhere along the line.
Lifetime tenure for judges is another point against high pay. When average life expectancy was about 60, our Founding Fathers expected federal judges to serve only 10 to 15 years. Now 30-year-plus judgeships, and more, are common. But is the country well-served by judges who are on the bench that long? I think not.