Letters to the editor
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The PG should acknowledge 'peak oil'
Regarding your May 19 editorial "Running on Empty": It appears clear that the editorial staff of the Post-Gazette is either unfamiliar with or choosing to ignore the approaching crisis engendered by "peak oil," when it states that it's hard to understand the reason for rising gasoline prices.
While there is no firm agreement of just when worldwide oil extraction will peak and a period of endless depletion will begin, there is increasingly reliable evidence that we are now at or very near this historic event. Of course, this does not mean that the world is running out of oil -- only that what oil remains is much more difficult and expensive to discover and extract, making it more expensive to buy at the local gas emporium. It also means demand will quickly and permanently begin to exceed supply -- another reason for higher prices.
The intelligent response to this crisis is one Americans are loath to accept and our government unwilling to require -- conservation of this critical resource, something for which the Post-Gazette editorial does call. We are, after all, still employing CAFE limits set in the 1980s. There well may be a conspiracy among oil companies to extract outrageous profits while they still can, but that in no way diminishes the reality of peak oil or the dangers it presents to what we believe is a lifestyle to which we, as Americans, are entitled.
It is well past time that we wake up and begin acting responsibly and stop being world-class energy gluttons.
Peak oil and prices
Regarding the May 19 editorial "Running on Empty": There are two graphs at this Web site -- valuesystem.livejournal.com/14190.html -- from the U.S. Energy Information Agency that show a leveling off of worldwide crude oil extraction. Your editorial does not even mention peak oil, which is the best explanation for this data -- U.S. government vetted data. The second graph shows an 8 million barrels per day disparity between "normal" economic growth and the amount of oil on the market.
Thus, the ultimate source of higher gas prices is demand exceeding supply, and supply appears to be geologically constrained, i.e., peak oil.
Slower is better
I was pleased to read the PG's May 19 editorial "Running on Empty" about our unquenchable thirst for fossil fuels. As a regular user of the Parkway East, I am astonished at how anyone who tries to conserve gas by driving the posted speed limit -- or even within 5 mph of it -- is left in the dust by most motorists. In the late morning and early afternoon, 70 mph seems to be the standard.
The 55 mph standard was instituted during the oil crisis of the 1970s as a way of conserving fuel. This is a point lost on many drivers, some of whom might not have even been born then. (That it led to fewer highway traffic deaths was another benefit.)
This measure is one of the "palliatives" that the PG referred to, but it is a significant one: drive more slowly. There are aerodynamic reasons why it works, but instead consider the more practical: You'll save money and gas. Also, by driving faster, you aren't arriving all that much more quickly to begin with.
You'll find that the savings add up, and it's something everyone can do right now to change this country's situation for the better. Whatever your reason, please slow down.
FRED HETZEL JR.
The May 17 cartoon depicting the Rev. Jerry Falwell as a Teletubby at the gates of heaven/hell was tasteless and unnecessary. There are many things Rev. Falwell said and stood for with which I strongly disagree. Many others have taken issue with his extreme statements.
However, at the time of his death, Jerry Falwell deserves respect, even if he did not always show that consideration to others. God will surely deal as graciously with Jerry Falwell as he will with any of us.
This is a moment to be gracious and to model a kinder spirit, a spirit in keeping with the Gospel.
REV. BEVERLY W. JAMES
Jesus confronts us
Jesus' teachings are far from pacifist, as writer Nick Marino implies in his May 18 letter ("Factious Falwell"). I read from the Bible almost daily. I find Jesus' words, while spoken in love, are very confrontational. Jesus spoke more about sin, death and hell than He did about love and heaven. He openly confronted the leadership and philosophies of that day.
Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. They clearly state that any type of sexuality outside of the bond of marriage between a man and a woman is a sin. Just because Jesus doesn't specifically speak about homosexual behavior and Hustler magazine does not mean He wouldn't confront us today.
Jesus knows that to fully understand love and grace that we need to fully understand and accept responsibility for our own sin. Jesus' teachings are not a buffet. We are not to pick and choose as we see fit but must eat the entire meal.
Traffic study folly
Regarding the evaluation of the traffic flow after the casino on the North Side is built ("Mayor Wants Casino Construction Before Traffic Study," May 12), I would like to make a comment. Are you people nuts?
Why would you "lock the barn after the horse is stolen"? If you find it was a mistake what will you do with the "white elephant"?
You cannot fix the mistakes made by the Gaming Control Board with Band-Aids. It was great Mr. Barden received the license, but it was the wrong location.
Why would you build something that large near PNC Park, Heinz Field and the Carnegie Science Center? The West End Bridge is overflowing now during the afternoon and early evening hours. I have a suggestion: Let Mr. Barden keep his license, switch properties and build at either Station Square or the arena area. At least that would spread the traffic flow around.
Columnist Bob Herbert's support for paid sick-leave legislation is misguided ("Catch the Flu? Too Bad for You," May 16 Perspectives). Forcing employers to give employees time off will actually hurt the very people it's intended to help.
Publicly available data suggest that sick-leave mandates increase employers' labor costs by up to 5 percent. When faced with an additional cost, businesses make offsets elsewhere. In the case of paid sick leave, that means reducing hours, benefits, wages or -- in the worst-case scenario -- the overall number of employees.
Many economists, most recently David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, have found that in the wake of government-mandated increases in labor costs, low-skilled workers feel the brunt of employee cost-cutting. By making each additional hire that much more expensive, paid sick-leave laws make it harder for low-skilled workers to find and keep jobs. Aren't they the ones we're trying to help?
Employment Policies Institute
We must help each other since the government has failed us
I was devastated to learn that one in four Pennsylvania residents are "working poor" ("Report Says 1 in 4 in Pa. Are 'Working Poor,' " May 18). It may be easy to "blame the victim" and say that college is a way for anyone to escape his or her socioeconomic status. The United States is the richest country in the world, but our government refuses to even consider providing health care for all of its citizens. Its citizens are forced to make difficult decisions such as having no health care and going to college, or having health care and not going to college. Citizens of the richest country in the world should never have to choose between having health care or getting an education.
Those who have gone straight into the work force to help support their parents and their own families are not victims, but strong, driven individuals whom I deeply admire. If anyone is to blame for poverty in the United States, it is the federal government, which refuses to take its citizens seriously.
Thankfully, there are noble organizations in Pittsburgh such as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Food Not Bombs that provide food for anyone who is hungry. Providing food is not enough; we need to volunteer our services to our communities.
Since we cannot rely on our government to take care of its citizens, it is up to us to unite and directly help fellow residents get out of poverty.
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First Published May 21, 2007 7:36 pm