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Hang Up on Clinton's Telephone Access Plan

April 21, 1996

"White House Urges Greater Phone Access for the Poor" (March 30) sounds laudable. However, the article describes one of the most sinister proposals to come along since the 1930s.

When the federal government is trying desperately to balance the budget, cutting many worthwhile programs to the bone, this is no time to initiate a new multibillion-dollar program of such nebulous definition.

A government program that would possibly provide pagers for the homeless, electronic voice mail for those with no fixed address, modems for connection to the Internet and even cable TV access is the most rampant kind of socialism. Talk about your Roman circus!

It is not hard to see where this plan is going--free computers for those who claim to be too poor to afford a telephone.

Does the administration know what is involved in the proposal you reported? It is one thing to try to equalize telephone access between rural and urban areas; it is quite another to provide online and Internet services where the mere access runs about $20 per month and use of the services (particularly if free to the user) may cost hundreds of dollars every month.

This suggestion is particularly outrageous because the government appears to be thinking of financing it at least partly by requiring the telecommunications industry to carry it. We all know where the money would ultimately come from.

Let's put this program on hold, at least until after the budget is balanced.

HENRY M. BISSELL

Los Angeles

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