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Letters to the Editor – 11/04/2008

Re: Plunging gas prices about to slow down
To say the recent drop in gas prices is the result of supply and demand is patently misleading. While the US DOT cites a 78 billion mile decrease in driving, this 5.6 percent year-to-year reduction can in no way account for the 38 percent price drop that America has seen over the past three months. Further, when considering OPEC’s 5 percent cut in production, simple supply and demand would suggest little to no decline in retail prices.

As AAA spokesman Gregg Laskoski noted, supply and demand has played a role in the futures market, where speculators purchased oil for well more than its current value. However, the concept that these prices were in some way justified in the “real” economy is both entirely unfounded and the cause of such prolonged rampancy.

The fall of such inflated gas prices marks a great failure of the American media. It demonstrates that the endless excuses, from hurricane ravaged refineries to increasing Chinese consumption, served only to stay popular disgust, thereby allowing price inflation to continue.

As is the nature of market corrections, it’s true that that the price decline will slow, cease and, as with the housing market, once more begin to grow. However, had newspapers, TV and other media sources properly reported these values to be unjustifiably inflated, far fewer would have suffered and for far shorter a time.

Daniel McKnight is a junior majoring in political science.

Re: Choosing the lesser of two evils is simply not enough
Unless Roldan’s article is a brilliant piece of satire, it’s disturbing in its implications. It’s true voting is a right, not a requirement. It’s a vehicle for voicing your opinion as a citizen, and I’m sorry anyone feels pressured to exercise that right. But Roldan’s grievances against stickers, signs and poster-waving “political fanatics” illuminates the unfortunate hypocrisy of her own convictions. (“Conviction” is similar to “fanaticism” — it just gets better press.)

There are differences between enthusiasm or convictions and blind fanaticism, a distinction Roldan seems unwilling or unable to make. Sign-wavers aren’t really fanatics unless they’re still waving the same signs in December. Otherwise, it’s just called excitement: excitement about our political process, excitement for a candidate, excitement at the notion that by participating in our democracy as citizens they might make a difference. And the “I Voted” sticker, that awful emblem of elitism and superiority, that judgmental sticker winking balefully at all nonvoters — I don’t think it’s quite the display of fanaticism Roldan implies. Additionally, I wonder at her metaphor suggesting voters need a good punch in the face.

I’m not arguing that fanaticism isn’t annoying or even dangerous — “blindly believing” anything can be a bad idea. (Though I’m uncertain that people believe in the Bible the same way they do Britney Spears.) I encourage Roldan to interview a sampling of political supporters. Blind believers exist, but I’d lay odds that the majority doesn’t envision their candidate as the cure for all ills. They’re only hopeful that by exercising their right to vote, they’re endorsing the person they feel is best equipped to search for a remedy.

Roldan doesn’t want to vote for the lesser of two evils, and that’s fine. There are other things on the ballot she can vote for. But she should also realize for every less vote the “lesser of two evils” guy receives, the closer the “more evil” guy is to winning. You don’t have to vote, but a democracy needs voting to properly function. When it’s a choice between the lesser of two evils, well, there’s a reason people choose the lesser of the two. It’s not an ideal choice, but it’s not an ideal world. No candidate is ever ideal.

I can only hope her views aren’t shared by a majority of the public, or the five people who do show up on Election Day to vote will get to decide everything for us.

Sabrina Smith is a senior majoring in English literature.