Money Not Necessarily a Winner

Although I appreciate the Monitor's candid and many-sided coverage of politics and society, "Only 729 Days Till Election 2000" (Nov. 4) seems to have missed the mark on a few points.

The most blatant is that cash always dominates politics. If this were true, the current political state would be even more upsetting than it is. The salvation of politicking lies in campaigns that succeed without the war chests of corporate players.

Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have triumphed with Democratic senators going for second terms. Both Minnesota's Sen. Paul Wellstone (reelected in 1996) and Sen. Russ Feingold (a winner this year in Wisconsin) have run high-energy campaigns based on grass-roots organizing, with low caps on contributions. Both are extremely popular in their states, since their focus is solely on the popular interest.

Ed Garvey, Wisconsin's runner-up in the governor's race, ran a similar campaign with a $200 donation cap. Although Mr. Garvey lost, his low-budget campaign made a considerable dent in conservative Wisconsin politics, winning nearly 40 percent of the vote.

As shown, the war chest of a given candidate does not necessarily determine the vote, and one might be mindful of applying that logic to the 2000 presidential race. Eyeing the Democratic nomination, Senator Wellstone is mobilizing a movement of like-minded citizens to organize his campaign. The Wellstone Presidential Exploratory Committee limits campaign contributions to $750 and refuses corporate donations.

Brian O'Grady

Beloit, Wis.

Editor's Note: A careful reader corrected our count in the headline mentioned above. There were 734 days until the next election.

Oregon's move to mail-in ballots

The editorial, "The Voters Speak" (Nov. 5) said, "Oregonians made a serious mistake in deciding all future elections will be by mail. Vote fraud is an increasing problem; total absentee voting could well make it worse."

But I have looked at the process for confirming absentee ballots in Lane County, Ore., and I believe it to be very good. We have to sign the ballot envelope. Our signature from our registration card is kept in a computer file. Every ballot envelope signature is compared to the registration card signature.

When we vote at the ballot box in Lane County, we have to sign a master book; however, the signatures are not all verified. They could not do it. Walk-in votes are counted as soon as the polls close. Absentee votes take about three days to count.

We may still have a problem with vote fraud, but I do not believe that it will be because we chose to go to absentee ballots.

H. Eric Watkins

Eugene, Ore.

Microsoft and deregulation

In response to the opinion piece "Microsoft vs. 'Good Intentions'" (Nov. 5), the authors have an unrealistically rosy view of the workings of the free market. They emphasized the benefits of airline deregulation, but neglected to mention that in many markets prices are higher than they were in a regulated market. This is due to certain airlines gaining a virtual monopoly. The effects of deregulation are mixed at best.

They are even more out of touch with respect to Microsoft. Microsoft got its start through a combination of luck and business acumen, but has maintained it through predatory practices meant to eliminate all competition. Microsoft products may be relatively inexpensive, but this does not make up for the fact that most of them are decidedly third-rate. People who claim that Microsoft products are good generally do not have much experience using anything else.

I hope the Justice Department puts a stop to Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior and opens the market to companies that are willing to innovate.

K. Christine Scarpinatto


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