Curbing campaign spending won't help

By , Ernie Karsten, Matt Orr, and Jean C. Willis

If the motive behind political campaign-finance reform laws is to curb the purchasing of political influence ("A deal-cutting Congress goes on spending spree" and "Europe, like US, seeks curbs on party funding," Oct. 12), then why not go to the source and cut the power wielded by politicians? The alternatives will not work and are unfair.

More-stringent finance restrictions would move campaign funding behind closed doors. Limits on campaign spending favor incumbents who would offer voters bribes in the form of spending programs and tax cuts. State funding would force taxpayers to pay the job-seeking expenses of politicians they would not vote for. The solution is to remove power from the politicians and return it to the people.

J. Preston Carter Grayslake, Ill.

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The perils of watching TV alone

Regarding your articles "Among parents, backlash builds to Ritalin" (Oct. 6) and "TV tops list of cultural 'bad guys' " (Oct. 11): I wonder why no one seems to have made the connection between raising infants to sit in front of TV screens for hours and continuing to let them watch programs even in their own bedrooms with their own TVs.

Certainly, people of my generation saw cartoons and often violent movies of the gangster/cops and cavalry/Indian kind. But this was at movie theaters, not at home, lounging in familiar surroundings. And we did not do it for hours on end. Reality and what was on the screen could never be blended or confused because we emerged from that movie theater into bright sunlight or into a dark night filled with headlights, streetlights, and other people.

Today's parents are the TV generation, raising their children as they were raised, now with even more technological "toys." What is a hopeful sign is that they are beginning to complain and to ask questions.

Ernie Karsten Berkeley, Calif.

Pro wrestling approach to debates

In your Oct. 10 article "Can new format end the debate doldrums?" Alan Schroeder offers false optimism that a change of format would attract more viewers to the second presidential debate.

I propose that the candidates appear on a specially scheduled event of Championship Wrestling, in character. Al Gore could weigh in as "The Exaggerator," George W. Bush as "The Compassionate Conservative," Dick Cheney as "The Texas Tycoon," and Joseph Lieberman, to counter the Republican penchant for catchy buzzwords (and alliteration), as "Captain Character." This would not be much of a departure from what we have come to expect from candidate pandering, party politics, spin, and media oversimplification. Besides, look what it did for politics in Minnesota!

Matt Orr San Francisco

Who we really vote for: advisers

Dante Chinni's Oct. 13 opinion column ("The big question for many voters: Who is cooler?") describes the disparity between the image projected by the candidates during the debates and the qualities needed in a president facing complex problems.

The last debate did not clarify the difference between Al Gore's and George W. Bush's management styles in dealing with foreign- policy issues. According to press reports, Mr. Bush would depend heavily on his team of advisers, while Mr. Gore would use both his advisers and his own judgment and experience. Voters should know who ultimately would make the final decisions. The president, to be a real leader, should be able to evaluate and process the information his advisers give him. If he can't do this, then we may as well know that we're really electing his advisers.

Jean C. Willis Galveston, Texas

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