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U.S. Price Floor for the Oil Industry?

November 22, 1986

Is George M. Keller, the chairman of Chevron, hitting on all eight or is his dipstick dry? Can he be serious in asking (Times, Nov. 12) that the U.S. government establish a price floor for the oil industry? Is he allowed to go out without supervision?

The chairman of Chevron and president of the American Petroleum Institute must have amnesia about the 1970s when the oil industry was educating the American public with lessons in economics about supply and demand.

America's problem, according to the oil barons, was that our demand was far exceeding the oil supply, and Americans should become accustomed to paying ever-higher prices for operating their automobiles and heating their homes.

Americans were admonished to purchase more fuel-efficient cars; curtail their driving; form car pools; refrain from using Christmas lights; turn down their thermostats; wear sweaters.

America, ravaged by double-digit inflation caused predominantly by petroleum and its extensive byproducts, endured and complied. Consumers from coast to coast weathered the storm and are now enjoying minimal inflation, even disinflation in some cases. However, Keller wants the same government that had to legislate the windfall profits tax because of spiraling prices and revenues for the oil companies to forget the economics instruction that they gave us back in the '70s and ensure oil executives and their shareholders of stable revenue and profits. Did he actually say this with a straight face?

LEE E. HUEY

Culver City

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