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High Finance, Politics and the Price of Oil

June 21, 2005

Re "What's Driving Gas Prices," June 20: Although your three-part series explained the economics of the oil refining and distribution business, it utterly failed to include the notion that most large, publicly traded oil companies operate for the benefit of shareholders who demand profit maximization, as they should. To politicians, profit as it pertains to these companies seems to be a dirty word. Yet much of the public is ignorant of capital markets and acceptable return on investment.

Many consumers are certain they're being gouged by the oil companies. I am not writing to defend oil companies, their profits or their shareholders. What disturbs me is that politicians, many never having worked in the private sector, seem willing to regulate, investigate and otherwise chastise companies willing to supply a product.

David Dutra

Tucson

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Blame for skyrocketing crude oil prices can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Congress and the president. They have funded, supported and led the occupation of Iraq, which has given the U.S. government a de facto membership in the OPEC oil cartel. The U.S. occupation authorities have cut back oil production in Iraq from its pre-invasion level. The U.S./Iraq delegate to OPEC has never voted against any price-raising cartel matter. OPEC met last week, and now oil has hit a new high.

It's all perfectly legal, but it is also perfectly damaging to the public, by tens of billions of dollars. We can only blame ourselves for allowing both Republicans and Democrats to be dominated by a narrow oil lobby.

Carl Olson

Woodland Hills

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It may be legal for the oil companies to gouge us for unheard profits, but it is unfortunate they are lacking in good conscience by destroying our economy.

Boycotting them would be poetic justice.

Andrew J. Gero

La Crescenta

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