Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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The Euphoria of Rising Gas Prices

George Foster - June 21st, 2007
Driving to work last week, I noticed several service stations reduced their price for regular gasoline from $3.49 to $3.29. The next day it dropped to $3.19. Talk about bad news. My depression has not lifted a week later.
You see, I become overjoyed whenever I see those little numbers representing gas prices on station signs go up-up-up. Each day I give little pep talks from my car, “Don’t stop now, Speedway old buddy, way up there. “You can do it, Shell, charge me more. “Come on Marathon - higher, higher.”
Significant long-term jumps in prices cause most Americans to get serious about energy conservation, whether we want to or not. I do realize increased gas prices have resulted in financial hardships for many families and businesses of late. Believe me, I have not been spared, but overall it is worth the short-term pain.
If for no other reason, you should join me in clamoring for higher prices because reduced fuel usage means less dependence on foreign oil imports. The U.S. now purchases 63% of our oil from foreign countries (and rising). None of us relishes being held hostage by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, who believe they can wreck our economy instantly by temporarily shutting off their oil spigots. And you think prices are high now?
Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez may hate President Bush but Saudi Arabia would never pull the plug on us, you say? Don’t forget that our Saudi “friends” use oil revenues to fund Madrasah Islamic schools that teach hatred for the West. Also, I don’t need to remind you that 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (none were from Iraq). Whose oil money do you think continues to indirectly fund Middle East terrorist plots against the U.S.?
We should also celebrate our journey to $5 per gallon gas and higher because Americans tend to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles when these prices are high. In recent years, even I have begun to see the light and sold my beloved SUV. Still, the replacement Subaru only gets 27 mpg - at best. My next vehicle purchased should be a retooled GM or Ford product that burns only half as much fuel. Are you listening Detroit?
So much for progress; the typical car in the U.S. now gets around 25 mpg compared to 26 mpg for the average auto 20 years ago. Since it is estimated that an average of 45 mpg would allow the U.S. to completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, the importance of dramatically improved fuel efficiency in the near future is obvious.
Additionally, high gas prices encourage people to use their vehicles less. A reduced amount of vehicles on the road result in less traffic jams, fewer accidents, and lower air pollution. Will you now join me in praying for higher prices at the pump?
Award-winning author Thomas Friedman has a plan that adds an additional gasoline tax of 50 cents per gallon to ensure that prices do not go back down. His reasoning is that Americans will break their oil addiction and businesses will produce more environmentally friendly products if they believe energy prices will not fall over the long haul. The additional tax revenue would then be used for such things as paying down the federal deficit and the development of renewable energy.
In 1980 President Carter put solar panels on the White House and proposed a 60-cent a gallon gasoline tax. He was, of course, defeated in the 1980 presidential race. During the 1990s President Clinton suggested a tax to promote fuel-efficient cars and general energy conservation. As usual, Congress snickered as it instantly dismissed any notion of higher taxes.
I don’t hear anyone laughing now. The only guarantee is that the next President and V-P will not be former oil executives. But will any Presidential candidate be brave enough to advocate an increased gasoline tax?
None of the major candidates have seriously discussed the topic of oil independence and conservation to date. Many of the Republicans have yet to discovery we have an energy problem. The Democrats don’t have enough backbone to bring up “taxes” (s-h-h-h-h, don’t say that word) in the middle of a Presidential campaign.
The only viable candidate (and he is not running at the moment) pushing for a new gasoline tax is Al Gore. His idea is to tax pollution, not payroll. In Gore’s plan, the additional tax revenue from gasoline would replace payroll taxes that all employees pay to Uncle Sam.
Does it add-up to pay more at the pump to ensure a bigger paycheck (less withholding) and increased energy conservation? Yes and it makes sense to vote for Al Gore in 2008 or any Republican or Democratic Presidential candidate who favors a policy embracing higher gasoline prices.
 
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