Reprinted from ....
 Boston Parents Paper

March 7, 2000
Jamaica Plain, MA

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    Heating Oil Prices a Matter of Ethics

         It is a disgrace that home heating oil has more than doubled in price since November. All across Massachusetts, so many citizens, including the elderly on fixed incomes, are forced to choose between buying food or heating their homes; forced to shiver in unheated rooms, or put their lives at risk by relying on dangerous space heaters or kitchen stoves for some warmth. The suffering is enormous, and Boston Mayor Menino recently said: "My 24-hour hot line has received numerous calls from residents who are angered and frightened by the sudden increase in the price of oil...cold weather is no excuse for cold-hearted pricing." 

         I agree. As a person born and raised in Massachusetts I want your readers to know about the education of Aesthetic Realism, founded by Eli Siegel.  Mr. Siegel was a great philosopher and critic, and Aesthetic Realism gives an honest explanation for why oil prices have skyrocketed. The "oil crisis" is not the result of "bad weather and low inventory" as some officials have stated. There is plenty of oil, and the only reason it's not getting to those who need it most is that our profit economy—where the work of many people provides financial gain for a few—is based on contempt for the lives of men, women and children. Mr. Siegel defined contempt as the "lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it," and he provided ample evidence that contempt is the cause of all injustice—in social life, internationally, in economics. 

         Oil, coming from our rich and diverse earth, is a basic commodity, and everyone recognizes that it is vitally needed. Only contempt has a Wall Street stock manipulator or a petroleum industry executive see the production and distribution of oil, not as something all people have a right to, but as the source of increasing profit for themselves and shareholders. The anger of people in Massachusetts shows how deeply this is objected to. More and more the American people are showing they want an economy that is fair to all people, including a sick infant and a shivering grandmother. For that to be, we must answer two ethical questions I love, asked by Mr. Siegel: "What does a person deserve by being alive?" And, "How should the earth be owned?" Only then will the price of oil be something everyone can easily afford. 

    Carol Driscoll  
    New York, NY 


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