At one-month-old, my daughter has discovered how to kick off the covers. This delights her and she does it often, leaving her mother obsessed with room temperatures and blankets.

According to my favorite parenting book, the room temperature should be set between 70 degrees and 75 degrees for the baby to thrive.

A second parenting book sets the temperature at precisely 74 degrees.

My doctor is not so concerned with room temperature, but prefers the child be dressed in one more layer of clothing than I am.

No matter what the baby is wearing, my mother wants to add one more blanket.

My husband walks around our house drinking ice water and secretly (he thinks) plays with the thermostat controls.

It is my job to sift through all this information and decide the right temperature. It is my job to protect my daughter, whether it’s from the cold, her own desire to kick off her covers or well-meaning experts and grandmothers.

As a nation, we allow the government to protect us via laws-whether it’s through warnings on cigarette labels or through rules designed to prevent monopolies.

With the second merger announced between two Baby Bells this month, questions are being raised about whether telecommunications providers will have too much power and what is best for consumers. One analyst notes that the merged Bell Atlantic/Nynex will be a 2,000-pound gorilla, able to compete with all the other 2,000-pound gorillas out there.

Congress passed telecommunications reform legislation earlier this year designed to increase competition in the marketplace, albeit between 2,000-pound gorillas.

The Bell companies obviously believe it is in their best interests to merge.

Union officials believe mergers are only in the public’s best interest if they create jobs.

Everyone has their own idea of what is ultimately best for the consumer. Previously, Judge Harold Greene decided what was best for the consumer in all Baby Bell-related matters and mergers were not condoned.

Now the Justice Department will separately study the proposed mergers between SBC Communications Inc. and Pacific Telesis Group and Bell Atlantic and Nynex to ensure these combined companies are in the public’s interest-or at least allowed under our laws.

In a few short years, the consumer will know who has protected their interests.


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