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Dissenting views: the Energy Department, postal rates, elections, foreign aid

I was disappointed with the Jan. 14 editorial opposing the merger of the Departments of Energy and Interior [``Prodigal energy'']. My disappointment was less with the position than with the timing. It seems uncharacteristic of the Monitor to pass judgment so quickly on an idea that is barely at the exploratory stage.

The President has seen sufficient merit in the idea of merging the Energy and Interior Departments to request further study.

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Some may disagree with the logic of combining energy and natural resource responsibilities within one agency, but it has worked elsewhere. The Canadians have managed these activities through their federal Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Resources without compromising either energy development or the protection of natural resources.

The results of the study requested by the President should provide a reasonable basis for assessing the merits of the idea here.

From my vantage point, I can see advantages from merging the departments. But until the idea is further developed and the details of merger thought out, it seems premature to draw any final conclusions. Rayburn Hanzlik, Administrator, Economic Regulatory Administration, Washington

An example in futility is the 2 cent increase in postage rates granted to the postal agency by its Board of Governors. Futility because increases in postal rates inevitably cause prices to rise for the public as well as the postal agency. One possible method to increase postal revenue and yet stem any attendant increase in the cost of living would be to institute a postal tax on the consumer. With 90 million or more household units, a $10 tax per household would bring in some $900 million over and above normal postal revenues.

To answer objections by the consumer to this method, it should be pointed out that 80 percent of the $23.5 billion postal revenue, or $18.8 billion, is from business. To cover overhead and profit a markup of 30 percent, or $5.64 billion, is added to their postal costs. This partially accounts for the rise in the cost-of-living index when postage rates are raised.

Under the proposed system the postal rate would be pegged at a certain rate and any deficit in postal operations would be met by a consumer tax. This would eliminate the 30 percent markup by business and we all would certainly benefit from no rise in the cost of living. Henry A. Karpinski, Trenton, N.J.

Polling in India was held Dec. 24, 27, and 28. That means the first polls closed 96 hours before the last polls closed. Yet, results were not announced until after all the polls had closed.

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For all the problems India has, they are capable of dealing with election results in a much fairer and more democratic manner than the United States. Lynn Kohner, Seattle

In the Hugh Stubbins article [``When we take longer to see beauty than to destroy it,'' Jan. 14], there was no mention of a famous German anecdote. In the early '60s, unimpressed by Mr. Stubbins's Eindr"angen [intrusion] into their architectural affairs, the irreverent West Berliners almost immediately dubbed Kongresshalle [Congress Hall] ``the pregnant oyster''! Look again. Not a bad description, what? John W. Robinson, Riverside, Conn.

With the ``secret'' $250 million grant to the Afghan resistance movement, the government of the United States bears the responsibility for prolonging a struggle which will lead only to increased destruction of life and property in that country. As the example of Hungary illustrates, it is possible to arrive at reasonable accommodations with a Marxist government backed by Soviet military. The US should strive to the utmost to facilitate a truce and peace in Afghanistan, unless it wants it to be reduced to a thoroughly destroyed land. Louis J. Mihalyi, Professor, California State University, Chico, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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