1979 Letter to the editor: some questions about oil economics

A friend who recently moved found this old clipping, written by her mother:

I am very confused about the rise in oil prices. During World War II, we were rationed because there was a shortage, but I don’t remember the prices rising sky high. Now, because Iran cut off our oil for several months, the price is skyrocketing. I hope some sensible economist will answer my questions:

If we only received 5% of our oil from Iran, and it is my understanding that we are now receiving 2.5%, whiy is the price doubling?

Why are we not buying oil from South America, which I understand has more than it knows what to do with?

What happened to the umpteen gallons of oil from the Alaskan pipeline that cost the American taxpayers more than a billion dollars?

Common sense should tell us that something doesn’t add up. Is it possible that the oil companies have contrived to jump the prices to pad their coffers at the expense of the gullible American people?

Or are the oil companies so powerful that they can jam anything down people’s throats and we have to accept it without any comeback?

Is there some enterprising person out there who can come up with a substitute for oil? Possibly a solar-powered vehcile?!

One more question and I am through: Are the oil companies accountable to anyone for their exaggerated profys besides their stockholders?

Signed (The late) Helen M. Heagney, 220 Ashbourne Rd., Rochester, NY

Appeared in the May 15, 1979 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

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