> Prior to 1960 or so, you could buy an amazing collection of things
> from the drug store. ... they gradually withdrew such things. Plus some
> laws were passed.
Often new products came out that were (and are) perfectly legal but
after experience in the marketplace we realize they are dangerous and
they are pulled. This has been an ongoing process for the last 100
years. Conversely, some products once thought dangerous are now sold
everywhere (such as contraceptives).
The military had trouble with moralists in WW II in giving out
contraceptives but they were critical to control the spread of VD
which could ruin an army if unchecked.
The sale of alcoholic beverages varies greatly from state to state,
some states or localities are very restrictive, others are wide open.
I recall an anti-nausea medication, Paregoric, that was OTC years ago
but now is a controlled prescription as an example.
I think nowadays some raw materials to make "speed" (meth) are
> Where should we set the limits?
This is been a long ongoing debate in society about balancing
protection against availability about many different products and
We see that now on the 'net; some ISPs restrict the number of postings
to control against spam. Is that fair? A good idea? I find it
annoying if I'm in a prolific mood, but I can see the point of it.
We will undoubtedly have to deal with more controls.
As an aside, keeping to telecom issues:
What does the telephone company require today to establish land line
phone service? Suppose I refuse to provide a social security number
and want to use a name for which no credit record exists -- but am
willing to put down a large cash deposit in advance. I can understand
their need for credit safety, but I pay them in advance that is not an
issue. (Which is how things were done in the old days -- cash
deposits for unknowns).
Will they still give me service or require verifiable background if I
"don't exist"? How does a kid getting his first phone get service --
how does a kid prove who he is? (Kids today must have an SSN after
birth and that can prove age. I think today schools give out photo
IDs which are required by govt agencies to get a driver's license.)
BOTH government and the private sector do not like dealing with
anonymity. They want audit trails and verified names of customers
even when paying cash. I opened a storage locker and they demanded a
lot of official ID even though I paid in advance. Kind of irked me.
If you apply for a job today, they'll run a credit check on you.
BTW, can you still make toll coin calls from a payphone? They don't
seem to accept coins anymore.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Answering the last part first ... many
pay telephones no longer accept money; you are required to provide
either third-party or some other kind of special billing (i.e. calling
card) number. Now one might think telco would at least reduce the cost
of those calls to what the coin-deposit-paid-in-advance rate would be
under those circumstances (no coins accepted after dark for example)
but telco says no, cannot give those types of discounted rates. In the
past, if telco's customers were imposed upon for reasosn not their own
fault, customers were given the least expensive (i.e. direct dialed)
rate. Telco claims they made that adjustment to the pay phone at the
request of the phone's owner or by 'community demand' (which generally
means the police or some other big-shot politician in the community
If you inquire further, of the 'community' as to why they had this
done, answers will range from 'drug dealers hanging around that phone'
(such as parking lot at 7/Eleven, Walmart store, etc) to the more
contemporary catch-all 'terrorists'; in any event, where a 25 cent
coin is never going to provide an audit trail; third-party or other
special billing will _always_ tell you who did what, and when. In
Chicago, for example, many payphones in inner-city neighborhoods have
been set for 'no coins after dark' for several years, mainly on
account of drug dealers, but 'terrorists' has become much more common
in the past four or five years.
Those same no-coins-after-dark payphones also are blacklisted by telco
security against overseas calling with calling cards, depending on
your voice accent, color of skin, and destination of your call. Of
course, telco won't tell you the real reasons your calling card is not
accepted; do you think they are fools standing there waiting to get
sued for discriminatory practices? If you _really push hard_ for an
answer as to why your telco-issued calling card cannot be used to call
from a blacklisted payphone (most all of them) to Nigeria, Iraq, Iran,
most any _non-English_ speaking country in the world, then the
operator has been trained to lie to you claiming 'our (name of telco)
credit card is not accepted by the (name of telco) in that country.'
When that happened to me once and I got that lie recited to me by the
operator, I told her I was attempting to make a PAID call ... what the
other country did or did not wish to do with a USA-issued calling card
would have nothing to do with it.
Her supervisor told me that not only were coins-after-dark not an
acceptable (i.e. traceable) method of payment, but even usually
traceable methods of payment (calling card, etc) were unacceptable to
'that country' because of the high incidence of fraud. Nor, it seems
were cellular phones acceptable for those international calls. The
_only_ way calls to those 'high fraud' and or 'high risk of terrorism'
countries could be made was from a _fixed_ landline phone (where the
telco pair in use could be firmly identified later as needed.) I
resisted the impulse of asking her what about in cases like inner city
Chicago where your 'pair' itself is an open-ended multiple in every
apartment building up and down the alley behind your house ... she
probably would have had another story to tell me in that case.
Now regards the other part of your letter, children or other
'first-time users' of telco; how do they get service, etc? Well Lisa,
I remember quite well, as you must, in the 1950-60's when you called
the business office to get a phone installed, the 'telephone man' came
out the same day or the next morning at latest, put it in and turned
it on. There were no questions asked; there were no credit limits set;
that was your business. And although they appreciated getting payment
within a few days of when they mailed your bill, nothing was said
until at least two months went by; then an inquiry was made. There
were _never_ any inquiries made at the credit bureau, nor were any
reports made to the bureaus. Telco worked exclusively from its own
internal records. If they had no record, or the record said something
negative, then they _might_ ask you for the first month in advance to
get service turned on. Or maybe not ... and there certainly was no
inquiry ever made about your social security number. But if a child's
parents had been telco customers for some period of time, that was
considered good enough for telco. Would you believe I have _never_
been asked to pay a deposit (either for first month of service or to
keep in escrow) by telco until a few years ago. That is because when
my first phone was installed in 1960-61 or thereabouts, the fact that
my parents had had phone service for thirty years prior to that was
considered 'good enough'.
Now the other day, I decided to call AT&T to inquire about some sort
of promotional deal I got in the mail; they refused to discuss it at
all until they had my street address and social security number which
I refused to give them. I guess things are changing a lot. PAT]