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The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth’. 4 Thoreau Trxas Olistriurr We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see. it An Independent Liberal Weekly Newspaper Vol. 48 TEXAS, JULY 4, .1956 10c per copy No. 11.1 The Phone Company’s ‘Explanation’ A Rather Complex Statement On the ‘higher State Toll Rate DALLAS Why does it cost $1 for a Jong ‘distance telephone call from Austin to Texarkana, Texas, when a call to the far side of the same town, Texarkana, Arkansas; costs only 75 cents ? Dallas officials of. Southwestern Bell Telephone Company answer that, and other, long distance rate “disparity” questions : “Rates are not established on . the basis of cost _between specific points. Instead, they are based on average distances. The average distance . of an interstate message is about two and one-half times the average distance of a messagebetween two Texas points. Long distance plant costs .less’per mile for longer messages than it does for shorter messages. This means that the average cost per mile on intrastate calls is greater. than .the average cost per mile on interstate calls. Operating expenses are virtually the. same for each message regardless of distanCe and whether interstate or intrastate. As a consequence, to provide the same earnings on a mile-of intrastate plant as on a .mile of interstate plant, the rate per mile for the intrastate message must be a little higher than that for . the interstate message.” The above explanation was prepared for the enlightenment of Ohserver readers by Southwestern Bell officials R. L. Bence, staff supervisor, and C. F. Weekley, information manager for Texas. Besides that, they confirmed in an interview, the rate on the phone call to Texarkana, Ark., is set by the Federal Communications Commission, while rates on all long , distance calls in Texas are set by . Southwestern Bell Telephone officials. . B ENCE explained -in a three-hour interview that the Federal Communieations Commission has juriSdiction over all interstate calls \(calls and that all states in the union except Texas and Iowa have set up regulatory bodies Bob Bray with jurisdiction over long distance calls within their states. As things now stand in Texas, he said, intrastate rate-making is a legislative function, but the Legislature just “keeps an eye” on the matter and has not delegated the authority. As a result, Southwestern Bell simply sets its own rates within the state. However, Bence stressed, though his company regulates itself, so to speak, the rates are “in line” with charges for similar calls in other states. He produced figures indicating rates on Texas’s long distance calls ranked on an average with those of 13 other states ; that rates in 17 states are higher than those in Texas, and that rates in 15 states are lower. * “Our rates,” . he said, “are fairly reasonable. What we really try to do is stay average. If we can keep intrastate long distance rates average with others, 1.exas is getting regulation without the expense of it \(regulaAsked if that meant Southwestern Bell was opposed to establishment of a state regulatory body, Bence stated the company “doesn’t care.” He explained : “Rate -wise, I don’6, think it would make any difference. Almost 75 percent of our busifiess \(local ex. is, regulated now.” Did -Bence or Weekley think there was any chance, if rates were regulated in Texas, that it would cost only 75 cents to call . Texarkana, Texas, as well as the Arkansas resident of that city? Neither thought the Texans of Texarkana stood much chance of getting such a reduction. As. .Weekley sized it up : “Texarkana . is getting a hell of a break.” . He added that one thing seemed . sure : that “as long as the system now in use is _folloWed there will always be some disparity between rates.” Bence made no bone’s about the fact that “disparity” exists between some intrastate and interstate long distance rates. He said only a few years ago the Legislature had looked into the matter and found “there isn’t a hell of a lot you can do about it. It’s just the nature of the beast.” BENCE said that long distance rates are established to provide sufficient revenue to pay all expenses’ involved in that particular jurisdiction and have enough left over for a fair return on the investment in that area. What doe -s Southwestern’ Bell consider a “fair return?” tween seven and seven and five-tenths percent return.” What rate of return does Southwestern Bell now earn off intrastate long distance calls ? This called ‘for some figuring. Bence went to work on a comptometer and after a couple of minutes of machine calculus, stared aghast at the answer. “That can’t be right,” he muttered. “Oh, I forgot to figure the income tax.” Once more the machine whirid and he announced his company showed a return of 6.7 percent .on Texas operations last year, which was almost precisely the same as it made off intrastate long distance calls. Since the figures produced indiCated Southwestern Bell is making YARBOROUGH ON A COUNTRY STUMP ‘He Makes a Good Talk, Yarborough at a Taylor Crossroads Don’t He?’ Asks a Farmer \(The first of several reports from GIDDINGS, TAYLOR, TEMPLE, ROGERS, TABOR Clouds churned in the eastern sky, bathed here , and there in lightning. Thirty or forty people, a lot of them children, sat on the courthouse lawn at Giddings, and as many more sat in cars parked around the two front sides of the square, just as they would at a drive-in movie. The Cass County Coon Hunters, three very young boys, in the style that has developed since Elvis Presley, twanged and sang away, “I’ll Alll-ways Keep You Innn, my ,Heart.” They seemed a little tired. Up on the makeshift stand, behind the parked black Ford and the new Mercury station wagon painted “T e x a s Yarborough Progress,” Ralph Yarborough appeared in a brown suit, looked around at the small crowd ; and the boys swung into “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Stars popped into the darkening blue sky. . A tall, hulking man in white shirt and a tie moved to the microphone. Judge John’ Simmang, a delegate to the Chicago convention. “You and I, by virtue of the wisdom of our forefathers; have the privilege of being citizens of the greatest . state of the union, created by God Almighty, the greatest country in the history of the world ….” But there have been land scandals, insurance scandals, senators on the payroll of. “guaranty and trust companies.” He was proud to present “someone who can’t be .Paid for, priced and delivered . on the hoof to the Goiernor’s Mansion.” A thin cordon had formed in an arc on the lawn, back forty feet. or so from the stage ; a row of farmers and a couple of Negroes were leaning against the cars, and clusters of townsfolk were on the lawns across the street. Perhaps 200, 250 in all. Two or three moved in closer. Yarborough told them that all told, they were more than he had talked to in two ,appearances there beforeand he carried. the county before. . He fixed: the stem mike to his chest, so. it moved every time he turned his head. Essentially he said: “We . must have a government re Ronnie Dugger sponsive to the needs of the people.” But he said it in varied ways, and in a country tongue. WE HAVE 67 counties on direct relief, In Karnes .County, with a population of 16,000, there are 8,000 on relief ! I’m not afraid of the federal government helping. I don’t have any phobias on that. I don’t think that’s tainted money.. They took some of it out of my pocket! But we need a state drouth relief program, too.” Arms extended, hands raised heavenward ; palm slicing down. “Look at the kind of people helping us in this campaign. See this station wagon ? I’ve taken it north of the Canadian River, west to El Paso, east to Texarkana. One evenin’ I was at