More than anything stated about the "Keating Five" to date, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's (D-Hawaii) comments before the Senate Ethics Committee {news story, Dec. 4} highlight the problem within our Congress. The ethics of our lawmakers have degenerated so far that Sen. Inouye sees nothing wrong with the behavior of his colleagues. Would a destitute constituent receive the same loving care from a senator? I doubt it. Essentially, our political officials have lowered themselves to the status of "Legislators for Hire." L. L. LARSON Woodbridge

The Senate Ethics Committee hearings on the "Keating Five" reveal an interesting behavior pattern common to many U.S senators on behalf of their more privileged constituents.

This television spectacle should not be surprising to the American public, when placed within proper historical context. There is little doubt that one of the original functions of the Senate, as conceived by the Founding Fathers at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, was to protect and foster the propertied interests of the new nation as much as to provide equal representation of the states in one of the legislative houses being created.

During the final decades of the following century the extraordinary influence of business special interest groups became notorious, and senators of that era are remembered as "spoilsmen" -- a derogatory term reflecting their primary interest in retaining power and accepting large campaign contributions from the economic power brokers to do so.

Indeed, nothing much seems to have changed along such lines. Legislation that would eliminate PACs, or at least severely curb their insidious influence on the political process, offers one obvious way to temper this pattern of congressional behavior. Whether such action will result from the exposure given the hearings, however, remains questionable. One can only hope that the hearings and attendant negative publicity might finally jolt the consciences of nationally elected representatives to take action lessening the financial clout of the privileged in the democratic process.

BRUCE DUDLEY Annapolis