Our wonderfully shortsighted, reelection-motivated, economically inexperienced, non-work-ethic orientated Congress created the so-called oil shortage in 1973 when the Cost of Living Council implemented Phase 4 of the 1970 Economic Stabilization Act.

Very simply, what this did was to make it more profitable for the oil companies whose business (oil drilling) was international rather than domestic. Those smaller companies, such as Union Oil Co., had put most of their chips on domestic oil production and found themselves (in the case of Union Oil) having to write out checks to companies such as Exxon and Texaco for $55 million per year (under the entitlements program) to equalize the higher cost of oil from places like Saudi Arabia and Iran. This made them all come out even.

How nice. How stupid! We penalize the company that invests in the United States to help those that invest elsewhere.

On top of that, this program kept the price of gas and oil unrealistically low in the United States. As the cost of living increased over the years, we got used to cheap fuel, which was not allowed to rise in price at an equal percentage rate. Gas sells in France for $2.50 a gallon, and we're complaining - yet at 85 cents or 90 cents a gallon we are paying far less than anyone anywhere else in the world.

Where does it say in our Constitution had the people have an inalienable right to cheap fuel, or to cheap food for that matter"

We see the trend in labor to shorter and shorter work weeks and more and more pay. Granted a fair wage has to be paid, but we may have to go back to yesterday and work extra hours to pay for the luxuries such as boats and motor vans, dune buggies and second cars, motorcycles and airplanes, second homes or overly expensive first ones.

A minimum basic weekly wage must at least grant a person food, shelter and clothing. I question whether that includes all the other condiments. To take a look at what's happened, just drive around any high school and count the cars - staggering. These aren't one-car families - they are two-, three-or four-car families! This can't continue. We've been spoiled by cheap energy and now we don't want to give it up.

There is a way to change it - but it's painful and will take several years, just as it look several years to get us into this situation.

We have to get off of the oil companies' backs. They are probably the most efficient technologically advanced industry this country has. The North Sea oil fields could not have been developed without their technology - none of the other oil compaines in the world know how!

We seem to regard profit as something bad - unless it's our own. Profit is what has given the people in this country everything - the highest standard of living in the world. Without profits, wages can't go up, reinvestment and modernization can't go forward. Profit is good - that's exactly what we need. The oil companies wouldn't invest in areas outside the energy field if the profits weren't higher outside of the energy field.It's common sense.

What we've forgotten is how free enterprise works. Give the oil companies the incentive to make high profits within the energy field and they will reinvest inside the energy field. To tax away these profits is exactly the wrong way to go.

What do people think the oil companies do with profits? They pay some out in dividends and the rest is reinvested in the business. Who is supposedly getting the money? It's all accounted for - there are no secret bank accounts or company-owned stocks of gold - it's all put back into the ground and new processes and new pipe lines and oil-shale development and geothermal - as long as it appears to be profitable.

The other areas that have caused our domestic energy decline are too much government regulation and excessive environmental concern. We have to decide what's important - we have to make choices sometimes between energy and beauty. There is lots of oil out there if we'd let the oil companies get it. Look what we've done in the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara area. We all want oil but not to desecrate our home town or our beach - let the East Coast do it! Look at the delays that the environmentalists caused for the Alaska pipeline - and I've yet to hear about one caribou that has been hurt. As Pogo said, "We've met the enemy and he is us!"

We must stop subsidizing oil prices, we must turn the oil companies loose (within reason) and in doing so we will stimulate development of other forms of energy.

If we let the oil companies make the money and require them to reinvest it in energy, they will solve our problem. We must realize that the oil companies are our only way out of this mess. The Lord knows that our government will never get us out - they are the dummies who got us in.