EVs: Not Yet
I agree with most of the points made by Morris Altschuler in his letter of Nov. 22 about the benefits of an electric vehicle (EV).
I don't think anyone could deny the benefits of an EV if there were one. That's the problem.
There isn't an EV ready to step in and replace the standard vehicle because of the shortcomings of batteries. Every other part of the EV is present and ready for use except the battery.
Batteries have been the Achilles heel of EVs since EVs were invented back at the turn of the century.
EVs lost the competition to the internal combustion engine (ICE) back then for the same reasons they are at disadvantage now.
* Battery-powered vehicles have not had the same range as an ICE. Even though EV range may be good for almost all second-car requirements, most people won't buy a second car that has such limitations unless it costs a lot less.
If people were amenable to such limitations then they would have already bought cheap gasoline runabouts to supplement their heavy-duty diesel long-range cars. That scenario hasn't happened. Neither will second-car EVs unless they're very cheap to acquire.
* It takes a long time to charge up the battery compared to filling the tank of an ICE vehicle. Although with new charging techniques demonstrated in the lab this may be changed in the not-too-distant future, you can't go to Sears today and get a fast charger for your EV.
* Batteries are heavy or expensive or both for the amount of energy they carry. There is a lot of research going on to get the price down, the weight down and the amount of energy carried up, but again you can't go down to Sears and get a new battery set.
What does the above mean? It means that even though EVs are desirable for the very many benefits listed by Mr. Altschuler, they don't exist for some very good engineering reasons.
It is like the perennial problem with solar power. Solar energy is free for the catching, it just takes an expensive bucket to catch it.
It also means that though it is good that various companies are trying to build EVs and better batteries, it doesn't follow that their efforts will be successful or that Congress or any other body can pass a law and make it so.
I write to second Robert H. Sterner (letter, Dec. 2) in pointing out that the new gasoline formulation will not reduce pollution, because of the increased fuel to cover the same distance.
In my own case, my miles per gallon dropped 25 percent with reformulated gasoline. It means that I am using more, albeit at lower pollution per gallon, to cover the same distances.
It is like a man who feels he won't get drunk on a lower-content alcoholic beverage, but then doubles his intake, producing intoxication nonetheless.
This is another case where the cure will be as bad as the disease and more evidence of misdirected thinking on the part of federal bureaucrats.
Richard L. Lelonek
Carol Chesney Meyer's letter, "Cost of Credit," Dec. 1, referred to my Nov. 21 letter, "Cash or Credit," which narrowly focused on Lester A. Picker's Nov. 7 column, which dealt solely with the purchase of gasoline by credit card.
However, Carol Chesney Meyers is correct in saying, "Why single out gas stations?" and I have long realized that any restaurant, department store, grocery store, etc., which accepts credit cards at the same price as cash is also requiring cash customers to pay part of the credit card costs.
To my wife's embarrassment times without number, after waiting in line while cashiers go through the steps of accepting credit cards, checks, food stamps, etc., I have asked the cashier if she gives a 5 or 10 percent discount for cash.
When she answers, "No," I always say, "Why not? My cash does not cost you a processing fee, a credit card company fee or any extra work, and you don't have to wait for your money."
In many southern states, gas stations do charge credit card users more than cash customers.
Many years ago, early in our marriage, my wife and I had a credit card, but we soon found it was truly an invention of the devil when we paid the bill.
We soon canceled the card and had none for many years until I had to get one for business purposes.
We very seldom use it, pay no annual fee, and always pay in full at the end of the month to avoid interest charges.
Yes, there is a Santa Claus, and his name is cash customer.
Harold W. Wright
'A Steaming Pile of Hogwash'
Paul Wragg makes the same old claim that America is based on Judeo-Christian principles (letter, Dec. 3).
He claims that only someone from a Judeo-Christian background would have "found these truths to be self-evident," as Thomas Jefferson did when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
He says that no Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Communist or Nazi would have seen them as self-evident. What a heaping, steaming pile of hogwash!
Such a blanket statement about Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, and to lump them in with Nazis is so repulsively ignorant that I don't even need to refute it.
I'm sure that many Christians in America do find equality self-evident, but to say that equality is only a Judeo-Christian concept which no one else will understand is just plain blind ignorance.
There were plenty of Christian Nazis, who found nothing self-evident about the rights of all human beings; Judeo-Christian tradition has long kept many peoples in subservient hierarchies.
If your average Catholic tries to tell the pope that his interpretation of the Bible is wrong, you'll learn all about how Christians find equality self-evident. Many American Christians resist the idea that women are equal to men.
Further, Mr. Wragg shows that, like many people, he is ignorant of the difference between communism and the totalitarian regimes that have taken over most communist countries.
Communism is based specifically on the idea that all people are equal -- that the czars had no right to keep the Russian peasants in poverty, while they lived in opulence.
It failed because communist countries failed to distinguish between "equal rights and opportunities" and "equal entitlements, regardless of effort."
The First Amendment is purposefully a double-edged sword. Each person's freedom of religion depends on his or her freedom from other people's religions.
That is why the First Amendment has two clauses referring to religion. The first prevents any state establishment of religion, and the second makes sure that no one can prohibit anyone from practicing religion.
These two parts of the same amendment make for some very difficult situations, but it is by balancing these two principles that religions of all kinds have flourished in America.
School boards are wrestling with a very difficult issue, and they are having difficulty separating religion from culture, and distinguishing sharing and education from indoctrination.
I agree that to remove all signs of Christmas from schools isn't fair when many of the children come from Christian homes. Not because Christianity is a fundamental part of America, but because those children have a right to celebrate the holidays of their culture.
However, it may be that the Baltimore County school board needs to set up guidelines so that the children of other religions do not have their holidays smothered and lost amid the majority's Christmas celebrations.
Guidelines are also needed to prevent teachers from crossing the line between educating children about many religions and indoctrinating them into any one religion.
Children who celebrate a different holiday should be allowed to put up decorations and maybe talk to the class about their celebrations. I would like to see schools decorated with signs of Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa and any other holidays that the students enjoy.
Teachers should be sure to gather materials and information to explain that many different holidays which the students celebrate.
By the way, every one of the Christmas symbols that Mr. Wragg lists are not at all Christian in nature.
Trees, decorations, red and green, gifts and Santa Claus are all pagan symbols annexed by Christian nations when they took over pagan nations, in an attempt to get pagans to celebrate the new state-enforced holiday of Christmas. Even the date of Christmas was moved to fit with pagan solstice celebrations.