PSC and C&PWell, the Public Service Commission has done it...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 15, 1993

PSC and C&P

Well, the Public Service Commission has done it again, but this time with a new twist.

Usually when one of the two major utility monopolies, BG&E or C&P, wants another rate increase, it simply requests more than it expects to get. The Public Service Commission approves a portion of that request equal to the amount the utility really wanted in the first place, and everyone goes away satisfied except the customers. Of course, on these occasions a public hearing is usually held, so the public can at least believe its interests are being considered.

Now C&P has devised a method of eliminating even this minor inconvenience. Up until now, C&P customers could control the amount of their telephone bills by choosing to do without most, or all of the optional services the company offers. Recently, C&P decided that since most of its customers were paying for the option of touch-tone dialing, they would like everyone to do so. So, without any public hearing, they obtained approval from the Public Service Commission to add the charge for this service to everyone's bill, whether the customer wants it or not.

The obvious assumption is that since the percentage of customers choosing not to use or pay for this service is small, their displeasure at having an additional charge tacked on to their monthly bills will carry no weight. So C&P gets some additional profit by what is in effect a rate increase for those holdouts who could not be lured into purchasing this service (many of whom are elderly customers, often on fixed incomes, and quite satisfied with their old rotary phones). And the Public Service Commission gave it to them without ever letting the public get in a word on the subject.

With this precedent now set, would anyone care to guess what is going to happen when the majority of customers are purchasing call waiting, or caller I.D. or any of C&P's other optional services?

W. Blonder

Baltimore

Israel's Defense

The editorial, "Unsettled Israel" (March 17), while considered and thoughtful, is itself unsettling. Two points begging redress are the assumption that Israeli revenge would entail action in kind (stabbings, murder) and that the Israeli citizens have questionable rights to defend their personal and family safety.

Israel has no death penalty for even the most heinous acts of brutality and violence. Israeli "revenge" is often frustratingly benign -- housing destruction, deportation -- especially to those of us who have lost innocent friends and loved ones to murderous attack. Even incarceration of convicted murderers often results in relatively quick release through prisoner exchanges or "goodwill gestures."

As an American citizen, I have the right to arm myself and protect my person and my household. I have that right in Israel, too, where I also live. Twice in the last two years I have walked by the fresh blood of a stabbing victim. Minutes earlier, it could have been me. Would the writer of this editorial seriously suggest that I be denied the right to protect my life from premeditated attack? The majority of Israelis, like their American counterparts, are capable of handling firearms responsibly and judiciously.

The editorial tone suggests that Israel sit quietly and "turn the other cheek" while its peace-loving citizens are silently knifed, axed, hacked, decapitated, castrated, burned with acid, run down by cars and trucks and killed by Molotov cocktails thrown into buses and vehicles.

Israel has shown remarkable and exceptional restraint in the face of unrelenting Middle East and global hostility. Further, Israel will continue to offer gestures and concrete actions of peace and reconciliation.

To gently suggest that the Jewish citizens of Israel should meekly submit to a continued reign of terror and torture is to suggest unwisely.

Tasha Vinikow

Pikesville

Opinion and Fact

The editorial ''Green Haze over NAFTA'' (March 21) is an excellent example of an opinion that is not backed up by research. The editor seems to assume that by increasing Mexico's GDP by opening its markets to U.S. trade Mexican workers will benefit and that money will be spent to lessen environmental degradation.

Unfortunately, there is little to back up this myth that confuses quality of life with ''free market'' trade. Recent reports by WorldWatch show that increasing a country's GDP does not automatically result in improved quality of life for most citizens or in stricter environmental regulation. In fact, often the opposite is true. Unless extremely strict guidelines are implemented, ''free trade'' with Mexico will only mean more money for Mexico's fTC upper class and more money for American businessmen whose interests are in the bottom line, not in providing jobs that actually help the Mexican middle-class and poor earn a decent living.

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