Consumers: Let's Press for a Public Commission
President Bill Clinton, 1993-2001
Connecticut Governor, 1991-95
I don't know whether or not you've noticed, but just about everybody's been putting his hands into your pockets lately -- and coming out a lot richer.
(Gov.) Lowell P. Weicker Jr., (of Connecticut) the new champion of legal pickpockets, stuck his long arm out so far down in your pocket that it'll be months before he has to come back for more. Bill Clinton, a newcomer for us Yankees, is still feeling his way around to see how much he can come up with.
Our Wallets Are Under Siege
But, on top of that, a whole army of local utilities has given us fair warning that our wallets are coming under siege. The telephone company, the electric power company, the water company, the garbage collector and cable TV companies have all increased rates or given notice of increases -- in most cases substantial, not just token, increases.
But wait! Except for the hundred dollars Weicker's already taken, these are only proposed increases.
Friends in High Places
Don't give up hope! Let us not forget that we have a friend in Hartford -- in fact many friends -- who have our best interests at heart. First and foremost, the governor himself, but also the attorney general, the commissioner of Consumer Protection and the Department of Public Utility Control -- to name a few.
These protectors of the lowly taxpayer know that most of us have a finite amount of money to draw from to pay all these increases; after all, we work for a living.
Will Politicians Save the Day?
Perhaps these officials will examine the utilities' records and hold public hearings that will reveal how little we have left in our pockets; and then, surely, they will save the day!
But, if the state lets us down, maybe we can rely on our employers to recognize our plight. No doubt, responding to the obvious pressure we are under, our employers will increase our salaries to compensate for the drain on our disposable income caused by the state and federal taxes, and the higher utility bills.
But alas! Maybe this scenario is flawed.
Help for Taxpayers?
Perhaps what we really need is a commission similar to the DPUC (Department of Utility Control) where taxpayers could go when pressed for funds.
If CL&P (Connecticut Light & Power Co.), SNET (Southern New England Telephone Co.), the water company and the cable company think they can justify huge increases, what lurid tales we taxpayers could tell!
Perhaps it would go something like this:
A Consumer Plea for Help
In requesting this 2000 percent increase in operating revenues for the coming fiscal quarter, we taxpayers would point out that we have not sought an increase in more than six months. Meanwhile our operations have been severely hampered by our inability to draw on surpluses depleted by capital expenditures for repair of our aging automobiles, higher telephone bills, electric bills, water bills, garbage bills and cable television.
Much of the requested increase is needed to stay up-to-date with technology and to provide our customers, ...er, children with the necessary shoes, bus fare, groceries and the college trust funds required to keep up with the Joneses, ...er, competition.
If this request is denied we taxpayers will be forced to seek an even larger increase in the coming weeks because we will be in the biggest financial hole this side of the Grand Canyon.
This column was written as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Feb. 27, 1993. Most families face a continual struggle to meet their bills. In that respect, little has changed since then.