Regarding the Oct. 21 article "Breaking free": The best thing the government could do to encourage development of alternative modes of transportation would be to increase the gas tax. Right now, the gas tax does not even cover the cost of building and maintaining roads. A tax increase would force the market to find more efficient ways to travel, which is far better than letting Congress try to guess what the future will be like through legislative grants.
To minimize the shock to the economy, the tax could be phased in over time and accompanied by a comparable across-the-board income tax cut.
To suggest, as John Felmy did, that the long-term economic stability and well-being of this nation should take into account the possible negative economic impact on Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the majority of the 9/11 terrorists, is incomprehensible. And to lament the "hit" that Detroit might take as a result of making automobiles more efficient puzzles me. Detroit is in the transportation business, not the oil business, and new technology would most likely give the industry an edge over foreign competition.
I suspect that Mr. Felmy's concerns can be better understood when viewed from his position as chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute. As long as our energy decisions are shaped by the people and the thinking of the automotive and petroleum industries, we will find ourselves without a coherent energy strategy and affected by conflicts like those in Nigeria and Iraq right now.
The Oct. 22 article "As oil rises, cleaner energy surges" reminds me of your unparalleled coverage of alternate-energy development 30 years ago. Had these technologies been promoted by continuing the tax incentives begun by Jimmy Carter, we would not be in the oil-fueled mess we are in today.
Most of this technology has been sitting on a shelf in our technology closet for decades. The lack of use of these clean energy options is as much due to lack of political will as uncompetitive economics. With further tax incentives to promote its use, existing energy conservation and alternate generation technology can reduce America's dependence on imported oil.
Biodiesel is the quickest way to energy independence in this country. I've been driving a VW Jetta diesel for almost two years now. I've tripled my mileage per tank by using diesel instead of gasoline, and my car is ready at any time to burn biodiesel. There are weak signs that biodiesel is gaining momentum in the US, but as long as the media continue to focus on electric/gas transportation, it will be an uphill battle.
I read with great interest the Oct. 20 article "Discontent over illegals in Arizona." The state's government is making a right choice in drafting Proposition 200, which will guarantee that illegal immigrants do not get government benefits. If it is impossible to get these benefits, immigrants will find fewer reasons to enter the United States illegally, and will seek to do so in a legal fashion. This would free up the billions of dollars that are being spent on immigrants.
I hope other states will follow the example of Arizona's Prop. 200. The US has always been home to wonderful benefits and programs that have set this country apart, but these benefits should be extended only to those who enter our country legally.
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