In a recent column, I told of the useful work done by the National Transportation Safety Board.

A letter is now at hand from James B. King, chairman of the NTSB, who was flying back to Washington on the morning that column appeared.

King reports that he bought a newspaper at the airport and began reading it when he boarded his plane.

By the time the plane was approaching National Airport and King had worked his way back to the comic pages, "feisty crosswinds" were bouncing the plane around.

Reflexively, King checked to make sure his seat belt was tightly cinched. Then he began reading my column about the many transportation safety services we Americans get for our annual tax outlay of only 8 cents per person.

King writes: "It was then that I read your punch line: 'When the airliner I am aboard begins to bank for its approach to the landing strip, I would be willing to pay not merely 8 cents but perhaps even as much as a dime for reassurance that an effective transportation safety agency is on the job.'

"I have to admit that I began to laugh out loud. The thought struck me, 'It's too bad Bill isn't aboard this flight. He might even be willing to spring for a dollar.'"

It's possible.

I'm like Jack Benny, Mr. Chairman. When somebody says, "Your money or your life," I have to stop and think for a while before I decide. But you're probably right. The cost of living is already so high -- what difference does another dollar make?