Felix Winsten of Arlington writes, "It occurs to me that this is the time for motorists to strike back at the oil companies and force them to reduce the price of gas.
"How? By a partial boycott. Organize the whole country into a campaign to drive down the price of gas by not using so much." Felix adds that instead of our begging the oil companies to sell us a little, they would be begging us to buy more.
Felex can call it a partial boycott. Or he can call it as President Carter does, "conservation." Whatever word he uses, it would mean lower consumption of oil, and that would indeed be welcome news.
Its impact could be significant. If it didn't achieve lower prices, it would at least slow the escalation to prices.
When we begin using less gasoline in each of our morle than 100 million vehicles, we will be sending a message to the oil companies and to their partners, the oil producing countries.
OPEC spokesmen have piously urged us to use less oil, but one must wonder sincere they were when they did it. If we were suddenly to cut out oil imports, some OPEC nations would have to revise their spending budgets. Even those with piles of cash in the bank like to keep current income high enough to pay for current expenditures, and in recent years OPEC mations have been spending at a dizzy pace. Iran has threatened to stop selling oil to us, and the ayatollah would probably love to cut us off. But so far he hasn't. Iran needs our cash.
Conservation should not be confused with deprivation. Just about everybody can cut down a little bit without suffering any real hardship.
I can think of one exception. Like many other government workers, National Security Agency employees at Fort Meade will soon have to begin paying for their parking. In these times, the federal government does not wish to subsidized people who elect to use private cars rather than mass transit. The theory is that when government workers must pay for parking, many will stop using their private autos.
The theory is fine, but I keep getting letters like this:
"even before the oil shortage, I seldom used my car for pleasure. I went to work, to the supermarket, to the doctor, and that was about it. When the gas lines began to form, I cut down even more. I schedule two or more errands for a single run.Nevertheless, I will now be penalized a considerable sum to park at Fort Meade. I will have to pay it because I have no alternative. Fort Meade is not served by public transportation of any king."
This woman's letter underscores the need for common sense exceptions to general rules. The fellow who lives near a bus or subway line and works a 9-to-5 job tends to be harsh in his judgement of anybody he sees in a private car. But the fellow in the private car may live out in the boonies. Or he may work at night as a policeman, security guard, musician, bartender, printer, hospital employee or public utility repairman. There may not be a bus line within miles of the guy's house.
Speaking of miles: Many District Liners have been writing to suggest that parents restrict the driving of their teen-agers. Virginia M. Roberts of Alexandria thinks the driving age ought to be raised from 16 to 18, and that teen-agers who live more than a mile from their schools should ride school buses. Those who live less than a mile from school can walk, she says.
Miriam Shapiro of Bethesda Reports that when a group of 16-year olds grew bored the other day, one suggested, "Let's go burn up some gas," and off they went. Miriam wonders whether a 16-year-old is mature enough to be responsible for such a decision.
I certainly wouldn't want the job of deciding who should walk, who should ride the school bus, and who should be provided with his own cars.
As a general princple, I would say that too few are now walking and too many have their own cars.
Parents capable of unbiased judgement even when their own children are involved may be best suited to decide who walks and who rides in what. Parents incapable of unbiased judgement would probably benefit from official rules and regulations.
OH, NO! NOT AGAIN!
Ed Roper assures us that there is no truth to the rumor that there is an 18-minute gap in the tape of the final conversation between President Carter and Joe Califano.
Bob Orben would also like to scotch a rumor -- the one that DOE stands for Driving On Empty.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS
Bennett Moser Willis asks, "Do you remember when a gas line used to run between the tank and the carburetor? Now it runs between 7 and 10 a.m."