Letters to the Editors
Tax cut is no solution to our energy problems
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001
I notice that President Bush has now proposed a vague conservation agenda. This "package of tax incentives" offer comes after his irrational statements concerning escalating gasoline prices and his heavy push for a large income tax cut. He concludes that we citizens need this urgent tax cut in order to pay for the higher gas prices.
I believe a tax cut will exacerbate the problem of higher prices and diminish efforts at conservation. Before this new proposal, the president chose to overlook strong conservation measures (e.g. cars with higher gas mileage, fewer car trips, etc.) as a real remedy for the supply and demand of this fossil fuel.
Natural resources are mostly finite -- but there are many ways people can conserve energy if a valid government incentive plan becomes reality. However, a heavily skewed tax cut is not one of them.
Consider Russia as an oil source
On Sunday's Meet the Press, Sen. John McCain, as always, presented some refreshing ideas. One idea that caught my attention was turning to reserves of oil and gas around the Caspian Sea.
With the Russians' desperate need for hard cash, their infrastructure and refineries desperate for development and ripe for vast improvement of fuel production, with their vast land mass and vast untapped deposits, why have they been overlooked as an alternative? Is it still that their economic, legal and government systems are too unstable to allow solid business relationships -- or can these be overcome?
It seems that if we can meet in space on joint ventures, the time has come to meet on Earth for mutually beneficial energy endeavors. We have the need and they have the resources to bring their standard of living to a more decent level, to the mutual benefit of two allied world powers. With declining relations with China, what better ally could we have in that part of the world?
Conservation? Who needs it?
Let us all complain about the high gasoline prices while we drive our Suburbans, Excursions or Expeditions. Our complaints include the dent the high prices have put in our wallets and that we simply need more energy, more gasoline and fossil fuels. Let's open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, just as long as I can get my 8 miles per gallon in the city driving my new Cadillac SUV.
Never would the words "sell our SUV" or "buy a more gas-efficient car" be said. Oh, not that. Please, oh please, don't have the American people give up the gas guzzling trend of the SUV simply to ensure lower gas prices and prevent future blackouts. It is definitely not worth it. Life simply cannot go on without such vehicles crowding the roads and taking up two parking places rather than one. It is best we find another way.
Conservation? Oh, not that evil word. Conservation has no room in a well-designed energy plan. Conservation is only for those people, the environmentalists. Conserving energy would simply strain the American way of life too much. Imagine people walking to the store located one block away. Imagine having to drive in a car that gets 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Oh, the horror. It is really not worth the trouble the American people might have to deal with. It is better not to encourage people to turn off lights in rooms that are empty or to set the air conditioner at 78 degrees. The stress may, in fact, be too much. Our current way of life is too comfortable. We just cannot risk change.
Let's not forget the viable option of drilling in the arctic and off the coast of Florida. Yes, now we are talking. Who needs the frozen tundra anyway. There are no people out there, so who cares if the environment might be harmed? The polar bears can survive, and if not, oh well. We don't need polar bears in this world, we need more energy. And Florida's coasts could prove promising. This idea could be a little more difficult to sell since tourists do love the beaches. One oil spill, and things could get ugly. But the increased oil production would be worth it.
So people, band together and just say no to conservation, no to wildlife and no to changing our way of life. After all, the Earth was made for us, wasn't it? We can destroy it if we want. And we can drive our SUVs while we do it.
Re: A fuel pricing proposal, letter, May 9.
I have to agree on the pricing this letter writer has proposed for emergency vehicles (fire/rescue, ambulance, police). As for commercial vehicles, I agree they should pay less for a gallon. But in exchange for lower prices the merchants should lower the price of the goods or services they are providing with those vehicles.
But it makes no sense to suggest charging $4 to $5 a gallon for private vehicles. What does the letter writer propose if people can't get to work because they can't afford gas? How will the economy keep going? Does he realize that working people also pay the salaries of these emergency service people? Next time this letter writer should take a real look at the world.
Unpleasant economic news
Re: Looking for good economic signs, by Paul Krugman, May 3.
Paul Krugman writes that "things are getting worse more slowly -- let's celebrate." He is right that things are getting worse -- but not more slowly! Gasoline is forecast to be $2 a gallon, bread at the bakery about $2 a loaf, and grocery prices are rising weekly.
When something at the grocery store goes up, it might only be 10 cents, but 10 cents on a 99-cent product is 10 percent! If the cost of living allowance increases by 2.5 percent and prices go up 10 percent, our "outgo" pulls away from our income more and more every year.
Also, when Alan Greenspan cuts the interest rate, it is applauded. But this same reduction also reduces the interest rate on our savings accounts and certificates of deposit. This very interest might be needed and used to supplement retirement income for living expenses. What is good for one person might be a loss for another.
A job for the poor
We should give the $1.35-trillion to the poor and let them stimulate the economy.
Try tax cuts for a leaner government
Re: Tax cuts are commuter's nightmare, May 14.
Robert Frank argued that among other things, tax cuts are a bad idea because they put more pressure on government budgets.
One could say that tax cuts are good for just that reason, that government budgets are "overcommitted" because of the waste, fraud and abuse in them, and not because they don't take enough money from the people.
Besides, Frank overlooks a couple of things. First, even with the tax cuts, the budget will grow at more than the cost of inflation. Not enough money? Hardly. Second, there is waste, fraud and abuse in every government's budget, at every level -- there is more of it the higher you go, and it's just obscene at the federal level.
When I used to work for the federal government, I used to say half tongue-in-cheek that we ought to randomly discard 10 percent of our files each year, and that it wouldn't matter. You could trim the federal budget by 10 percent each year, and it wouldn't matter either.
An accountability that counts
Re: Private schools not accountable, letter, May 7.
I am afraid that the letter writer does not understand true accountability. He is correct that most private schools do not give the FCAT. The public sector is required to give the FCAT as well as some other form of standardized testing. This means up to five to six months of school can be "teaching the test." They teach the test because their school receives a letter grade based on the results of this one test. This is accountability?
Most private schools, indeed, do standardized testing around the middle of the school year. Our school uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which is a top-ranked national exam. That, however, has little to do with accountability.
The private-school sector has greater communication with parents and a very basic accountability. When families are dissatisfied, they go someplace else. Private schools must maintain high standards and good communication to be successful. That's accountability!
There's no gambling in Bermuda
On April 23, you published an article by Jeff Harrington about Internet gambling(Place your bets). In it, he said: "U.S. regulators fear that that gambling sites, typically based offshore in countries such as Antigua or Bermuda, have become a fast-growing venue for money-laundering."
I think Mr. Harrington must have mixed Bermuda up with some other country.
Bermuda is an offshore financial center that prides itself on being absolutely scrupulous about the companies with which it does business. Our money-laundering law and other regulatory legislation have been used as models for other jurisdictions to follow. Where the Internet is concerned, our policy is that there should be no gambling or pornographic sites run out of Bermuda. Any company that uses the .bm domain must be a company registered here and must also be a company with a physical presence in Bermuda.
Not only are there no gambling sites registered here, we have never even had an application from one to register.
Let phone solicitors pay
I thought my phone was for my use. I promptly pay the phone bill when it arrives. However, I receive an average of 12 to 15 calls per week trying to send me a credit card or sell me something I don't want or need.
I propose we pass a bill that the solicitors pay the phone bills, as they use my phone more than I do.
Don't judge based on one picture
Re: A young Jackie Robinson needed, letter, May 10.
The reader sees one photo and assumes that no Africian-Americans were at the T-ball game at the White House.
Go to www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/05/tee-ball.html to see photos of all the boys and girls at the game.
Don't assume too much by looking at one picture.
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