Washington Watch



The Bell Telephone System (A.T.&T.) is seeking legislation to expand and further institutionalize its virtual monopoly over communications, especially in telephone service (see "Editorial: Playing Monopoly…For Real," REASON, December 1976).

Bell is annoyed that recent FCC decisions have allowed some limited amount of competition in providing telephone-related equipment. They're raising the usual fears—higher prices, inconsistent service, and "cutthroat competition" to support bills which would virtually outlaw the tiny hint of competition which has slipped through the loopholes of existing law in the last several years.

Hearings are likely in the House in February in the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communication, chaired by Rep. Lionel Van Deerlin (D-CA). Letters to him at the House of Representatives at Washington, D.C. 20515 would be welcome.

The Telephone Company's bill was introduced last year, labeled the "Consumer Communication Reform Act," by Sen. Vance Hartke, who will be blessedly absent from the Senate this year, but A.T.&T. has backups including Jesse Helms and George McGovern.


S1, last year's proposed revision of the criminal code, which failed, to the relief of civil libertarians, will likely be back.

The word is that Senator Teddy Kennedy, a half-hearted opponent last year, is busy cutting a deal with Sen. John McClellan of Arkansas. The terms would involve some cosmetic surgery of some of the more objectionable provisions of last year's bill. However, the basic oppressive nature is likely to remain the same.

Letters of indignation to Senator Kennedy, wondering why he wants to forfeit his liberal constituents' interests with this deal might be helpful. Others in the Senate who might benefit from letters about S1 include Birch Bayh who renounced his support of S1 last year. He will probably need pressure to maintain that position this year. All letters to Senators can be addressed to: U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.


Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-conservative congressman from Texas, will probably be involved in a court battle during January. He lost last November by 94 votes, in an election marked by heavy special-interest spending and wide-spread election irregularities. He is seeking a new election through what is likely to be a very expensive court battle.

Expressions of support could be sent to him care of Rep. Ron Paul, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.


The conservative-oriented Heritage Foundation has done some recent work on the issue of estate taxes. Of special interest is a book, Death and Taxes, by economics professor, Hans Sennholz, available for $3. Also noteworthy is a paper called, "Estate Taxation" prepared by staff economist, Dr. Art Carol.

Not all of the Heritage Foundation's publications will be pleasing to libertarians, but most of their work in economics is fairly sound. (The Heritage Foundation, 513 C Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.)

Alan Bock is director of Libertarian Advocate, P.O. Box 3117, Falls Church, VA 22043, a lobbying organization formed to present libertarian viewpoints and proposals in legislatures and other key forums.