PACs Can Fragment Attention

The editorial "Political Realism," July 18, minimizes the negative effect of political-action committees (PACs).

It ignores the overall impact of the growing number of PAC contributions on the ability and the time of members of Congress to make public policy. PAC contributions and their related operations on Capitol Hill are similar to advertising. Underlying the obvious appeal in favor of a particular product is the basic objective of encouraging more sales and more consumption of the category of products or services. The subtle message is to capture and to fragment attention - to isolate products and issues from their relationships to and their impact on the whole of society.

The task of a legislature - and it is not an easy one - is to critically examine the totality of interests and their impact on society as it formulates public policy. The environment created by the horde of PACs makes this task much more difficult.

John B. Fobes

Asheville, N.C.

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