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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Curbing the Abuses of Power and Money

September 27, 2003

Re "Government Just Can't Contain Itself," Commentary, Sept. 23: I couldn't help but chuckle at how Chris Edwards' bias against government has shielded his eyes from the Enrons, Arthur Andersens, Richard Grassos, top executive benefits .... I can go on and on.

The point is simple: Government is composed of people. Some people are amazingly honest and willing to work hard for society and themselves as a whole. Others are not. Some of this latter group get into government and some of them get into business. None of this latter group will be found at a church or an environmental group with the expressed intent to make the world better for all.

What's needed are executive boards and reviewing committees in and out of government doing their jobs -- to say no to excesses and abuses of power and money. The sad fact is that regulations are absolutely necessary in any society. Because (in general) people like to push against barriers, regulations will always be brought to their limits as well as struck down. Likewise, because people like to over-control, more regulations than necessary will always be created. Sadly, by focusing on the wrong issue, Edwards is missing the point and will never help resolve the problem.

Gary Coyne

South Pasadena

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Edwards is dead wrong when he characterizes the public sector as exploiters of the private. The truth is that private corporations have consistently capitalized on public projects. For instance, his assertion that "risky pursuits" like space exploration should be left to the private sector is preposterous. No corporation would have tackled the Apollo project because it offered no promise of short-term profit.

The federal government not only achieved that goal efficiently, but in the process pioneered technologies that were then modified and packaged by the private sector and sold back to the taxpayers who had funded their creation, helping to fuel the economic boom of the '90s.

Public servants may be corruptible, but the many recent scandals show that the private sector is the corrupter. Only nations can fund pure research to pursue grand projects, because their goals may rise beyond profits.

Norma Vega

Culver City

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