GAS PRICES are at record highs, and Americans are feeling a financial strain as we spend more of our income at the pump and grocery store. Many people are having difficulties making ends meet and are frustrated that our energy policy is clearly not working.

In a recent op-ed ("We Need a Gas-Tax Hike, not a Tax Holiday," May 11) two adjunct Penn profs pretend to offer a solution but advocate a gas-tax hike to permanently increase the financial pain. They believe we need to drastically reduce our consumption.

But we are facing increasing energy scarcity as a result of the restrictive energy policies of the last 30 years. The U.S. has effectively blocked all new energy-production facilities, all exploration and development of additional resources, and threatened our energy companies with severe penalties if they expand or upgrade existing facilities. These policies have kept energy supplies from keeping up with demand. As a nation rich in resources and technology, we should be able to solve this problem.

In order for us to survive and become more prosperous, we must be free to innovate and produce without unnecessary restrictions and punitive taxes. We must restore economic freedom to the American people and allow the development of available resources, supporting infrastructure and associated technologies. We need to let people construct power plants where they are needed, refineries to produce our fuel, oil wells where there is oil, and wind power where there is wind.

The removal of unnecessary restrictions that shape our national energy policy would solve more than just high gas prices - it would increase our competitiveness in manufacturing, create high-paying jobs and generate great wealth for our nation and individually.

Tom Childers