Letters to the Editor

Readers write about subsidized gasoline and how to face higher prices.

America's own responsibility for high gasoline prices

Regarding your June 11 editorial, "A big culprit in high pump prices": You make a strong case for attributing high gas prices to China's and India's subsidies artificially keeping gas prices down. However, it's not necessary to reinforce "us versus them." It was US subsidies that got us into this addiction to oil in the first place. Since subsidies and tax breaks are the culprit, shifting the flow of public revenue is the cure. Abolish subsidies. Charge polluters. And abolish taxes on earnings so people can profit from clean new technology.

Instead, tax the surplus value of oil and all natural resources, which is fair – nobody made nature – and would also make the old entrenched ways less profitable and less politically influential. That's how the market can ease our transition to a society running on energy alternatives.

Jeffery J. Smith
Portland, Ore.

In response to your recent editorial on subsidies causing high gas prices: A few weeks ago, President Bush blamed increases in food prices on people of developing countries eating more, and now this article blames them for the hike in fuel prices due to subsidies.

People in countries like India can hardly afford gas, even after the so-called subsidies, and gas is a much more precious commodity there than in the United States. I have had the opportunity to observe consumer spending habits both in the US and India, and I can assure you that every drop of oil is spent with much more care by an Indian consumer than a US consumer who has never known high fuel prices until now.

So please stop blaming the developing countries for all of the problems that the world is facing.

Sandhya Pande
Shrewsbury, Mass.

Regarding your recent editorial on oil subsidies: China can afford to subsidize gas prices because we're sending them our money through trade deficits.

We are paying for our debts through higher gas prices because those who have paid for our debt are able to use our money to subsidize their gas prices.

If we were more fiscally responsible, China would have less money for subsidies.

Keith Nealy
Alameda, Calif.

Regarding your recent editorial on subsidies driving up gas prices: The emphasis was on foreign governments that subsidize gas prices. However, a major oversight of the article was to omit any reference to the false economy created by Congress setting limits on drilling for oil.

Only with access to the real supply of oil can the "true" economy and hence the "true" gas price be revealed. Only then can governments and people properly respond to economic reality.

The editorial happily proclaims that "the price of oil – still over $130 a barrel – is quickly altering lifestyles." I find this attitude offensive on two counts. First, it neglects to consider the damage done to our country by transferring our wealth, to the tune of $500 billion to $700 billion per year, to foreign countries. Second, it assumes that the bountiful oil resources available for our well-being are not to be used. This is no different than the wicked servant, in the Bible parable of the talents, who buried his one talent rather than investing it. As you know, he ended up with nothing.

So I agree, let's get the government out of creating false economies. And that means, in addition to not creating subsidies, stop creating artificial barriers.

David Gorden
Sun City West, Ariz.

Ease into an oil-scarce economy

Regarding your June 9 editorial, "Had enough of high prices?": Americans need to face the inevitable higher prices of fuel and food. And they can afford to. The latest version of Grand Theft Auto did $500 million in sales during its first week of release. There is plenty more of such frivolous spending going on at all income levels.

Currently Americans pay unrealistic prices for petroleum-intensive products – gasoline, plastic, food.

European countries are flourishing with gas priced at $7 to $8 per gallon. If they can do it, so can we. And since we are going to be forced to do it anyway in the not-too-distant future, the sooner we get used to it the better.

It is silly to talk about rolling back prices. What we need to discuss is how to manage the inevitable transition as painlessly as possible.

Sam Abrams
Rochester, N.Y.

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