Federal bureaucrats generally have a pretty good deal, with reasonable pay, great job security, handsome pensions, generous vacation and sick leave provisions and other benefits.

Even so, some lawmakers want to start an expensive new program to lure bright young persons into federal jobs. They are pushing a bill, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, to set up an ROTC-like system that would pay aspiring civil servants $11,032 a year plus tuition to attend college or graduate school.The lucky students, after graduation, would have to work for the federal agency sponsoring them for one year for every year that they had scholarships.

Naturally, "modest" preference would be given to applicants who are members of racial or ethnic minorities, to women, and - get this - to the children of career federal employees.

The last preference is simply outrageous. Giving children of bureaucrats a head start to the payroll would be a step toward creating a hereditary, privileged class of federal employees.

Backers of the bill, which emerged from the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee on a 21-1 vote, use a false argument when they compare their handiwork to the Reserve Officers Training Corps.

The service academies cannot turn out enough junior officers for the armed forces. Consequently, it makes sense to give college scholarships and stipends to students who agree to serve in the military after graduation.

But the federal government has little trouble attracting bureaucrats. On the contrary, every time a federal position opens up, about 12 applicants line up for it. Why, then, offer costly incentives for jobs that are much in demand?