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Gasoline is not cheap

August 14, 2008

Re "A big surprise on gas," Opinion, Aug. 11

Indur M. Goklany and Jerry Taylor have performed the typical sleight of hand that gives political pundits a bad name. They have taken statistics -- in this case, average disposable income and the average price of gasoline over the last few decades -- to make the claim that gasoline is more affordable now than it was in the 1960s.

What they fail to acknowledge is that changes in average income do not reflect the fact that wealth is much more concentrated today than it was in the 1960s. In fact, average working stiffs -- those of us in the lower half of income earners, defined by the median and not the mean income -- are paying much more for gasoline than the authors give us credit for. And we do so in many ways, not just in increased driving time to and from work (which uses far more gasoline) but in related medical costs because of automobile accidents, etc.

And tax breaks for the oil companies versus the occasional, measly deductions that a few motorists are allowed? Don't get me started!

Elvio Angeloni

Altadena

If I have to read another story about how $4 gasoline is somehow historically cheap, I will explode. The relevant price comparison for today is the $1 or so we paid per gallon in 2002. Gas skyrocketing 300% is an unconscionable burden on the public for the benefit of OPEC, the worldwide oil cartel.

Governments have been helping OPEC and its allies in several ways. The U.S. government, as the occupying power in Iraq, has become a de facto member of OPEC because of Iraq's membership. We need to get our government back on our side. Will Congress help? Will any presidential candidate speak up?

Carl Olson

Woodland Hills

In 1963, I made $1.65 an hour, just over minimum wage, working as a sales clerk at Sears on Olympic Boulevard at Soto Street. For my $1.65, I could buy more than 6 gallons of gasoline at 23 to 25 cents a gallon, and even more when "gas wars" broke out and stations competed against each other to lower prices.

At today's California minimum wage of $8 an hour, you can't buy even 2 gallons of gasoline. How does that make today's gasoline "more affordable than it was during the early 1960s"?

Saverio Bono

Huntington Park

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