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Fat per gallon. Also: Putin's power play. Our God given rights. Plus more.

2.13.07

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POUNDING AWAY
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Gas Guzzlers:

Ralph Reiland's "Gas Guzzlers" commentary shows how these intellectuals manipulate useless data for their own personal ends. Professor Jacobson has calculated that overweight Americans use an extra one billion gallons of fuel per year. But rather than spending his time propounding such minutiae in order to keep more grant money flowing his way (remember, "publish or perish!"), perhaps the good professor could mention that our free-market, capitalist economy naturally is becoming more efficient every year, and that the most efficient energy technology in history -- nuclear power -- is opposed by the same eggheads who crank out those bottomless volumes of trumped-up "information".
--Steve Nikita
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Professor Reiland should take a course to soften his hostile attitude toward our nation's truck drivers. KFC and Pizza King have little room for parking a vehicle 65 feet or longer, and almost all truck stops provide healthy choices for those who eschew fatty foods. The professor's guess at two milliondrivers is way off the mark and I
suggest he delve into further research. Fifty or five hundred fifty pounds would make little difference in fuel mileage operating a vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds. Heavy gross weight vehicles average six miles per gallon, according to the figures compiled by the American Trucking Association.
--John Strong

Taxing fat people might be a great idea if it means reducing energy consumption, but does that mean that anorexics get a tax rebate? They should, if the policy is to be consistent. If fat is bad, then stick thin is in. On the other hand, why should tax payers carry the can for promoting socially desirable behavior (reducing energy consumption and promoting healthy diet), especially if the cost is that another set of unhealthy behaviors (looking like a concentration camp inmate) is promoted.

I think this proposal simply proves, yet again, that the purpose of the tax system is to raise revenue, as simply and efficiency as possible, and that means taxing incomes at a rate that is as low as possible. Supply-siders, flat-tax raters and deregulators can recite the benefits of this in their sleep - these ideas are the bedrock of conservative economics and have been discussed on numerous occasions. As soon as the tax system moves away from this and tries to regulate human behavior or redistribute wealth, it immediately runs into all kinds of difficulties, not the least being that people don't like paying taxes, especially for silly ideas like promoting anorexia.

I do see the funny side. The idea of the IRS paying you a friendly visit at the end of the financial year with a set of bathroom scales in hand definitely shows considerable imagination and a certain degree of flippant, insouciant flair. In my college student days when I did indulge in irresponsible behavior a la Barack Obama I would have had to inhale quite a bit to come up with an idea as good as that. Well done sir, now scull a large glass of beer and stand on your head.
--Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

RUSSIAN LESSONS
Re: George H. Wittman's Desperately Seeking Superpower:

While Mr. Wittman has done due diligence with reference to Russia's and Mr. Putin's present attempts to regain world power status, no attention was paid to Russia's past, for hundreds of years, as a world power in Asia and Europe. This legacy is ingrained in the average Russian's mind. And with the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan in combination with the loss of its empire of client states sometimes behaving antithetically towards her, Russia realizes it has been encircled. It would be wise for the U.S. to keep in mind that nations behave in a way that serves their national interest lest we push Russia to totally oppose our own self interest particularly in the Middle East.
--Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

TAKEN FOR GRANTED
Re: Roger Scruton's Religious Freedom in America:

In Roger Scruton's article "Religious Freedom in America," with which I find general agreement, he perhaps carelessly states that "no grant of religious freedom..." I think the use of the word "grant" was an especially unfortunate choice of words, at least let's hope so. I assume that Mr. Scruton's knowledge of the Founders and their intentions includes the fact that our religious freedoms are not things to be "granted" by anyone, least wise any government. Rather these are part and parcel with our God given rights elsewhere explained throughout the founding documents. Indeed, the Founders were forever worried over how to keep government from invading our private domain, be it our faith, lack thereof, or matters of education and business for that matter... disallowing the government the authority to "grant" anything in these arenas. Although Scruton is right about the need to realize that if and when Christianity loses ground here culturally, the vacuum will be filled with the violence of atheism and Islam, the need to keep these rights sacrosanct is held within the hands of the citizenry, who unfortunately appear asleep at the wheel. To be sure, "our rights" have never been nor ever will be adequately defended by the "government".... The Founders surely knew this distinction, as they were more concerned in developing the means of keeping the government from harming us, by limiting its powers and abilities etc., rather than relying on the government to protect us, which would then initiate the need to give it more power and jurisdiction. Just look at us today.... "Government" has had a hard time protecting anything of late.... except in protecting its own bureaucratic self-interests, of course. And, shame on us if we think otherwise.
-- Dr. Gregory

HATEFEST AT HOME
Re: Christopher Orlet's Teach Your Children to Hate:

Teaching your children hate is equally egregious here in the U.S. with public schools spewing anti-Bushness 24/7. No civics is taught, no grammar, no manners, no God but they've got plenty of time to teach condom application, global warming scare tactics, vegetarianism, and hate America first. The Brits have no uniqueness in their hate-filled schools. Check ours.
--K P Winterer
Turangi, New Zealand and Beaufort, South Carolina

The important issue here is simple: Those we call allies are not, have not been. Hatred and politics, not God, motivate their religion. They do not deserve any support from us.

We should admit that they are our enemies and treat them as such. And we should be hyper-vigilant regarding any of their religious affiliates in our country, including schools.
--C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

HANG 'EM HIGH
Re: Ben Stein's The Lynching of the President:

You have a twisted mind. George Bush has done more damage to our country than any president since Nixon. I place him in the same category. He is a stubborn, hard-headed, poor administrator, poor speaker, and as crooked as they come. His interest is helping his oil friends and listening to the crook Cheney. Cheney should be on trial instead of letting his buddy Scooter take the heat for him. They have both caused so many bad things to happen to our country and so many young lives have been lost because of them. It is no skin off of them, and I am sure they do not lose any sleep over it. History will not be kind to either of them.

I am a retired school administrator. I feel sorry for you and your misdirected thinking. It is people like you who are just as detrimental to our country as Bush is.

I don't know you but a friend sent this to me. Her husband is a doctor and I do not know if she is brain washed or not. I do know they are big Republicans and don't want to pay taxes. They fall in the category of the fat-cats.

Take time to examine all the bad things that Bush has caused to happen and re-evaluate your thinking. We will never get our country out of debt. I don't know you and I don't want to know you after reading your essay on Lynching of the President. If I were not a Christian, I would say that lynching Bush would be too good for him.
--Bobbie Walden

CORRECTING THE RECORD
RE: Floyd Vinson's letter (under "Different Strokes") in Reader Mail's The Clinton Time Warp:

Floyd Vinson should have remained silent and been thought a fool. Instead, he opens his mouth and removes all doubt. The unemployment rate at full employment is defined by the Federal Reserve as 4% and the December rate at 4.5% seems to me to be pretty close. The 4% rate is viewed as those who have no job skills demanded by employers, the structural unemployed. The minor variance of 0.5% can easily be explained by seasonal (no job supply) and frictional (workers changing jobs) unemployment.

Gasoline prices have been higher as well. The annual average inflation adjusted price in 1980 was $2.94 (in 2006 dollars). If gasoline is $2.33 now, it would have to rise to $3.00 and stay there until December to reach an average annual price of $2.94. Now that the refining capacity is back on line, price spikes of this magnitude and duration are not likely.

While the cost of education is rising faster than the cost of living, Mr. Vinson has confused education with learning. A fair number of high school graduates are functionally illiterate because they did not learn anything. Per student spending is not a predictor of learning as public school districts throughout the country with the highest per student spending have some of the lowest standardized test scores and highest dropout rates. Education is not a joke, it's a process that is not utilized by those who eventually become the structurally unemployed. The joke is on the taxpayers funding this nonsense.
--Bob Staggs
Goshen, Kentucky

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