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Regan's surprise

It seems to be fashionable these days to hurl darts at the federal government and its burgeoning bureaucracy. To be sure, there is a lot of waste and redundancy in the system.Some bureaucrats don't work very hard; others see government as a cushy job. But there is more than one side to every question, and Americans should not be left with an impression that government employment is a sinecure. On the contrary, Washington has a goodly share of hard-working public servants.

Even the Reagan administration may have to revise its evaluation. Listen to what Treasury Secretary Donald Regan replied when asked by the National Journal about his greatest surprise since coming to the capital:

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"[It's] the long hours that people work for so little money. . . at the top levels of government. Our people are in here by 7:30 in the morning, certainly by 8. When I left last night at twenty of eight, there were still people around here working, which is a 13-hour day. Plus homework and weekends, you've got people working 70, 80 and 90 hours a week for what I know are salaries that are less than a third they could command in the private sector."

Let's hope this doesn't provide justification for seeking big federal salary increases at a time when most Americans have to tighten their belts. But it does put a bit of perspective on the problem of bloated bureaucracy. Heaven knows, government would improve by a judicious pruning of officials as well as programs. But the devotion an d diligence of many should not go unrecognized.

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