Dear Russel (Baker that is):
I just read your letter and was surprised you even saw
Steal This Booksince no major newspaper, including that well known spokesman for free speech, the New York Times, will accept an ad for the book. None-the-less, the boys down at AT&T must be happy to know they have a friend at the Times. It's true even us yippies don't wish to hatch our coast-to- coast conspiracies using dixie cups with waxed string stretched between them. But if our efforts to sabotage the phone company by teaching people how to make calls free are the "dumbest rip off" then AT&T itself must be engaged in the smartest rip off. Last year their revenues amounted to about 17 billion dollars, give or take a few dimes. They made a 7.6% rate of return on their bread, which in a recession is pretty damn good. To say they function as a cut throat monopoly would be understating the case. I refer you to the excellent book called "Monopoly" by Joseph C. Goulden ($.95 Pocket Books) for a devastating account of the world's largest corporation. Witness their central role in the military-industrial complex! Laugh off their defiance of citizens and governmental attempts to hold down phone rates! Smile courteously when waiting three hours to complete your next long-distance call! Nod like a robot the next time they explain how they are controlled by their shareholders and customers! To defend their efficiency only leads me to believe you never use the phone. It's a bit unfair to compare the system here to Bul- garia or Greece or even an underdeveloped nation such as England. AT&T's current assets are estimated at 50 billion dollars, which is not exactly pocket change for most countries in the world. Even so, the systems of Sweden and Denmark seem to function better, especially with the speed in which they phase out obsolete equipt- ment. I should also point out that Cuba has an entirely free phone system; and that, Russell, is the point of the whole monkey business of Steal This Book in general. Yippies think you judge the goodness of nations by their goals. As the level of the tech- nological development increases, the costs should decrease with the goal being to make everything produced in a society free to all the people, come who may. Neat, huh? Until AT&T and the other corporations really become public services rather than power and profit gobblers, we'll continue to rip them off every chance we get. If you wand to discuss this further, call me up sometime. Because of all the agencies claiming to have me under surveillance, it's one of the fastest ways to speak directly to your government.
Your voice with a smile, Abbie Hoffman
Steal This Book