Marco Cau

AWA 3 Automobiles

“Gasoline prices continue to hover at record levels, and increased demand from China and India assures that the days of one dollar per gallon gasoline are over. Continued threat of unrest in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East, Africa, and South America means a perpetual threat to the U.S. oil supply. American leaders have acknowledged the need for new sources of power to fuel the hundreds of millions of cars and trucks in America. Despite this acknowledgment, the U.S. government has yet to provide substantial funding for this important research. Officials are relying on private industry and university researchers to undertake this research that is vital to the economy and national security. Given the long interval before new technologies are likely to become profitable and the tremendous cost, research into new fuels will be successful only if funded by the U.S. government using taxpayer funds.”

The author of this editorial clearly supports the idea that the development of new tech- nology for fueling the automobiles of America is an absolutely necessary project. Substantial evidence is provided to support this claim, for example, the rising price of gasoline, the swelling demand for oil in overseas markets, and warning signs of turbulence and instability in oil-producing countries. However, the author has not provided much evidence or reason- ing behind the statement that the U.S. government should fund this research.

The editorial states that it will take a long time and a lot of expense to develop these new technologies, but the argument fails to include evidence of this. The author is making the assumption that readers will know that private companies and universities have been work- ing for decades on projects such as hydrogen fuel cells, bio-diesel, ethanol, and electric cars. The editorial would be much stronger if it included one or two sentences on the fact that each of these technologies is feasible and that with increased funding could be brought rap- idly to market.

Furthermore, it is suggested that the development of new fuel technologies is “vital to the economy and national security” of the U.S., but this statement is neither explained nor substantiated. It seems to me that if a greater amount of government funding is dedicated to scientific research, the budgets of other programs and departments will have to be cut, which could have serious negative impacts on national security, and possibly also the econ- omy. If the editorial were to compare the hundreds of millions needed to fund research into alternatives to oil with the hundreds of billions spent each year on national security, then the argument would be stronger.

Clearly, the author of this editorial has made several assumptions about his/her readers, the most important probably being that readers of this business newsletter are familiar with this issue and will be able to provide the details of government funding and alternative fuel research lacking in the editorial. The evidence that the author does provide is strong. The editorial’ s conclusions seem valid. However, the editorial lacks the necessary foundation of facts and reasoning that would demonstrate, for example, why funding alternative fuel research now will allow new fuel technologies to gradually replace dependence on oil before a crisis hits.

This editorial discusses a very important issue and raises the critical subject of government funding for research into alternative fuels. However, the author has not provided much evidence or reasoning behind the conclusion that the U.S. government should fund this research.