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I read with some concern a statement by House Republican Whip Tom Delay quoted in the Jan. 8 issue : "We are going to fund only those programs we want to fund. . . . We're in charge. We don't have to negotiate with the Senate, we don't have to negotiate with the Democrats."

When people get great power, it tends to consume them, to burn away their good purposes for which they sought it. Some Republican members of the current Congress, experiencing great power, have made statements like the one I have quoted, statements that frighten me.The whole idea of a balance of power - between legislative houses, between branches of the government, between or among parties of differing persuasions - is to provide checks on the individual and on the few because no one person and no handful of persons have all the answers.

The Bolsheviks confronted real inequities. Hitler's dream for Germany had its socially beautiful aspects. Mao and fellow revolutionaries in China had a worthy cause. But in all these cases, the end result was tyranny and oppression. The good was overwhelmed by the bad as, drunk with power, the adherents lost their humanitarian perspective.

America is not immune to such destructive wielding of great power. We need to monitor present congressional activities particularly carefully and exercise our prerogatives as citizens to combat power moves that may prove destructive of our whole way of life.

Norman Davis