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Letters to the editor

July 22, 2003

Raw deal for Western Maryland


To the editor:

Recent news articles state the undeniable fact Marylanders now pay some of the highest local phone bills in the country, something that make Maryland consumers and small business owners sit up and take notice. The simple truth is these bills don't have to be so high and regulatory relief that opens up the state to local phone competition can lower those unreasonably high bills.

Unfortunately, the Maryland Public Service Commission's recent decision on local phone competition was a mixed bag that will result in lower rates for some and higher rates for others in the state, leaving one to wonder what in the world were they thinking?

The PSC's decision may very well be the catalyst needed to bring local telephone competition to parts of, if not all of, Maryland.

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While state regulators lowered wholesale phone rates in some portions of the state, they raised them in other, mostly rural areas.

It is a patently unfair and glaring imbalance that some of our rural areas, especially the Eastern Shore where the bulk of Maryland's population growth occurs these days, may be locked out of phone competition. Also unfair is that the PSC actually increased rates for portions of Western Maryland and Montgomery County, effectively locking people in these areas out of competitive phone rates.

Nationally, lower UNE-P rates have led to significant savings for consumers and small businesses while new competitors have begun to grow, meaning more jobs in an otherwise stagnant economy. Let's hope that's what happens in all of Maryland.

While this may not be an across-the-board win for competition, we should look forward to the PSC's taking the necessary steps for local telephone competition to exist throughout the state.

Maureen O'Connor
Executive Director Maryland Coalition for Local Telephone Competition
Baltimore




To Donald Kaul: We're not victims


To the editor:

The July 14 Morning Herald ran a column by Donald Kaul bearing the headline, "So you hate paying taxes? No problem, just get rich." There could not be a more false statement ever made. Kaul cites a recent IRS study, which is from its Statistics of Income Division for the year 2000, but if he looked at basic facts, he would have noted the following:

- The top 50 percent of wage earners in the U.S. pay 96.09 percent of the individual income taxes.

- The top 25 percent of wage earners, those "filthy rich" making $55,225 and up, pay 84.01 percent of income taxes.

- Taking aim at the very top tier, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those that Kaul and his neo-socialists despise, averaged $313,469 in annual income and comprised 20.81 percent of total adjusted gross income (AGI) and paid 37.42 percent of all taxes.

- Top-tier taxpayers face a marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent on earned income and roughly another 7.5 percent in state taxes, nearly half of each additional buck that they make.

So if President Bush cuts taxes for people who pay taxes, yes, some wealthy people will have less taken for the government to spend. Hopefully, they will spend and invest personally in the U.S. economy.

Kaul's most telling comment observes that, "Maybe the American people don't care about that.... Maybe they think they can make it on their own."

No, Mr. Kaul. We know that we can make it on our own. We do it every day, working to provide for families. Only defeatist liberals like Kaul can view an entire country as helpless victims.

John E. Olson
Hagerstown

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