Rather than being a convincing argument for reform, Egon Weck's Jan. 1 letter instead illustrated a naive understanding of the finance reform debate.

While some of what Mr. Weck would call corporate welfare arises from political contributions, it is ridiculous to imply that all, or even most of it, is in place solely to repay campaign contributors.

Worse, Mr. Weck repeats the myth that the Keating Seven episode embodied the crux of the S&L crisis--that criminality and political money caused the whole mess. I spent four years cleaning up defunct S&Ls, and the reality is much less glamorous. Yes, criminality and political money sometimes played a role, but the crisis itself and the losses it caused were due to stupidity more than anything else.

Mr. Weck and many others cherish the idea that reform will eliminate special-interest groups. Hogwash. Corporate America is not the only special-interest group--organized labor, the American Association of Retired Persons, the environmental movement, children's rights groups, etc., are all special-interest groups too.

Campaign finance reform is a good idea, and it could have many benefits, but let's not overstate them. Politics is a struggle between the needs of the human condition and the wants of human nature. Merely reforming the way that politics is paid for won't fundamentally alter that struggle.

CHRIS WAGNER

Fairfax