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Terror Tax - Maybe Some Hope

Although gasoline prices would not normally be a topic for these pages, high oil prices benefit countries that we would prefer were not benefitted (Iran and Venezuela , for example). With Venezuela's diplomatic support of Iran (the enemy of my enemy) and Iran's open support for the likes of Hezbullah, Hamas, and Al Qaeda in Iraq, profits for Iran translate into the terror tax, direct funding for terrorism against Israel, the West, and surprisingly (or not to those who have studied the history of the Middle East) other Muslims!

The Republicans in the Senate actually wrote a bill that attempts to placate current concerns regarding high energy prices, without penalizing capitalism (no new taxes on oil profits), and recognizing that we must take full advantage of our own natural resources (proposed drilling in ANWR), and then address a longer term concern, vehicle fuel economy until alternatives can be engineered (like hydrogen fuel). Although market capitalism won't really be affected by this bill, the key element is recognizing that we must limit our foreign dependence.

Despite the jockeying for political advantage, economists and energy experts generally agreed that the government has few, if any, immediate powers to drive pump prices down from their $3-plus perch.

But the political wrangling, the back and forth gotcha-game that is defining 2006 continues.

"It's a bold package to help consumers ... to help ease the pain," said Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. He promised a vote on the measures by Tuesday.

"We are going to ease the burden," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Democrats criticized the GOP proposal because it linked attempts at short-term relief with oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge; the exploration idea has divided the Senate for decades.

"It's designed to protect Big Oil while mistakenly believing that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will solve America's energy problems," said Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley.

I personally don't see how exploiting our own available resources is a mistake. The unspoken end of Reid's position is that "by not drilling in ANWR, we continue our dependence on foreign oil, which means we continue to pay the terror tax." I understand that the long-term solution is less dependence on oil - that much we all agree on. Oil is a limited commodity, but like all things, it can be replaced when there is sufficient need. Right now, the technology is not up to speed on delivering a technical alternative. Hydrogen may be the way, but then again, there might be something else - there are smart people working on this all over the world - we need to support and laud their efforts, encouraging those with promise (and not simply throwing money at the problem, which encourages sensationalism and corruption). Nuclear power for domestic electricity may be an answer. All alternatives need to be looked into. But in the very short term, we need to limit our dependence from overseas suppliers. The Democrats offer no near-term alternatives besides continued payment of the Terror Tax. This is the most unacceptable of all options.