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Everybody's Column / Letters from Our Readers

>Exxon Mobil has huge profits, but also huge expenditures

Nobody likes paying today's high prices for gasoline, but reflexively accusing the oil industry of price gouging and manipulation reveals a serious lack of perspective. The real villains in this saga are supply and demand.

Supply has been constricted by tremendous industrial growth, especially in Asia. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did their share by destroying oil and gasoline refineries. With less gasoline available, the price will rise. The most outrage, however, seems aimed at the record profits of such companies as Exxon Mobil.

Exxon Mobil's profits, as an absolute number, are huge but the company has huge expenditures. A more informing number is profit margin. For every dollar in fourth-quarter sales, Exxon Mobil made 10.7 cents. Compare that to McDonald's (13.8 cents), Coca-Cola (21.2 cents) or Google (24.2 cents). In fact, banks, pharmaceuticals, software companies, telecommunications and insurance companies are more profitable than the oil and natural gas industry in terms of cents per dollar of sales.

Inviting government intervention to address alleged price gouging would cause a serious distortion of the market forces that have driven down demand, prevented shortages and even attracted gasoline imports from European suppliers. Things could be a lot worse.

John Swanson
East Amherst


>Giambra, county legislators only know how to tax, spend

How disappointing and manipulative of County Executive Joel Giambra to compliment his administration's skill in recording a small budget surplus for fiscal year 2005.

It doesn't take wisdom to champion a huge tax increase to cover the sins of both his administration and those of the county legislators, past and present. What skill does it take to confiscate more taxes from the very people he is supposed to represent and then pat himself on the back for doing it?

Meanwhile, the county's so-called leaders continue to ignore any real reform. They have, for the most part, discarded the detailed and significant cost savings presented in reports from both the Erie County Stabilization Project and Free Buffalo.

They simply continue to tax and spend. This in turns drives talented people out of Western New York to better themselves economically elsewhere, leaving a decreasing tax base to fund the bloated local programs, projects and administrations.

I'm already counting down to the next tax increase proposals from Giambra and the County Legislature.

Martin F. Brownsey
West Seneca


>Breen's editorial cartoons are welcome addition to The News

I had been waiting to write this letter for the past several years, when a new group of editorial cartoonists began to appear in The News. I have always enjoyed cartoonists from the past, such as Herbert Block and Pat Oliphant. Although Tom Toles has been controversial lately, he is also among my favorites. However, the more recent crew of cartoonists had been neither understandable nor funny until Steve Breen appeared. Now, I can once again look forward to laughing at politicians and our political situation. Thanks for introducing Breen.

Howard Faden


>History repeats itself in the political world

So Vice President Cheney did not report his shooting accident until the next day. It reminds me of Sen. Ted Kennedy, Mary Jo Kopechne and Chappaquiddick in July 1969. History does repeat itself.

Tom Fox


>Voters need to keep Clinton out of Senate, White House

My new year's resolution is to do anything possible to keep Sen. Hillary Clinton from becoming the first female president of the United States and furthermore to keep her from another term in the U.S. Senate.

About the worst thing that could happen to this country would be having Clinton back in the White House. Eight years was enough.

It is time the American people review the Clinton years and realize that the only reason he was elected in 1992 was because it was a three-man race. Ross Perot had a personal vendetta against President George Bush, and that made it possible for Clinton to squeak through without a mandate. It was to be a two-for-one presidency, with Hillary pushing socialized medicine as their No. 1 issue. Fortunately, it failed.

Now Clinton seems to think she is the most qualified person to become the first female president. She would be a disaster as leader of the free world. Whenever she is asked a question, she answers with, "Well, you know . . ." Recently, at a Buffalo appearance, I asked her where all the jobs were that she promised to this area and she replied, "Well, you know, we're working on that." Now she has no agenda except promises for cradle-to-grave care for everyone.

Thelma C. Jenkins


>Don't approve more war funding until Bush levels with Americans

So President Bush wants $65 billion more for his Iraq war. Many in Congress are rejecting this request, and the reason is simple; he won't tell us what we're getting for our money. Frankly, we're not getting much.

I recall as a kid growing up during World War II that every day the newspaper had a large map of France that showed exactly how far our troops had advanced, a map we could follow as we listened to the evening news on the radio. With Bush, we're lucky if we can find out how many soldiers were killed in Iraq that day.

Why won't Bush order his generals to tell us the truth? Just what are our troops doing in Iraq? One gets the impression that our troops spend the day dodging insurgents' bullets and perhaps advance a short distance at the cost of many casualties, but in the evening they have to give up the land they have taken and retreat.

The reason the president won't tell us the truth is simple: If he did, we'd put the pieces together and realize how terribly the war is going. Bush should not get any part of this $65 billion until he tells us exactly how well or how badly our troops are doing against the insurgents in Iraq.

Kenneth J. Rummenie
East Aurora


>There is no way to justify killings linked to cartoons

The author of a Feb. 12 letter wrote that he could understand the Muslims' rage over the Danish cartoons. After all, he claims, hate crimes against Jews are punishable with prison time, while insults against Muslims go unpunished. He fails to understand that a hate crime requires an underlying crime, such as a physical assault, and that if a Muslim were likewise physically assaulted the assailant would equally be subject to jail.

However, an insulting article is not a criminal act, and many anti-Semitic attacks appear in European newspapers, many written by Muslims, and these, likewise, go unpunished. In fact, most Muslim nations print anti-Semitic articles on a daily basis and they not only go unpunished, but are encouraged.

The killing and destruction of property of innocents who had nothing to do with the insults is barbarous. Any attempt to justify such actions is despicable, especially coming from a person who has not suffered a loss from these actions. The further attempt to interject Jews uninvolved with this matter by way of a spurious argument of nonexistent favoritism compounds the offense.

Julian J. Sugarman

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