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'What's Wrong With Congress'

February 14, 1988

Thank you for the excellent four-part series on "What's Wrong With Congress" by Sara Fritz (Part I, Jan. 24-27). I think the articles were useful in detailing how Congress works and more importantly, as a metaphor for U.S. values in a changing and troubled world.

Congressmen and women are a diverse lot, truly representing the diversity in this country. Thus conflict is inherent in its activities; it is the lack of consensus on basic values which is the cause of our government's inability to deal with the crucial issues of the day.

The root cause of the Iran-Contra affair has to do with our basic perception as to how to deal with what we perceive to be threats to our sense of well-being and threats to our national interests. Do we use violence and force or negotiation and selective application of aid? There is a fundamental difference in the country as to which course to choose. Should Congress be any different?

There is a difference of opinion as to how we should care for the homeless and mentally ill.

My sense is that the old dichotomy of Republican/Democrat, conservative/liberal approach to problem solving is no longer working.

I think any approach which attempts to fragment or box in the problem will prove unworkable. We need a system or holistic approach to problems.

--That is why immigration laws are ineffective because they don't deal with Mexico's fundamental economic problems.

--That is why cutting government spending for the homeless and poor doesn't reduce the number of homeless and poor.

We Americans need to realistically accept the idea that Congress (to paraphrase Pogo) is us. If it is fractionated, uncooperative and diffused, it is only because we are. If we want Congress to deal with the pressing problems of our day then we have to decide what we want.

NICHOLAS R. RAY

Encino

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