My favorite toy is also my most expensive one. It’s a 1980 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham that’s stretches more than 19 feet long and weighs several tons.

The engine is a 368-cubic-inch monstrosity with a carburetor larger than a washing machine that, by the way, is fully capable of sucking every ounce of gasoline faster than an entire fleet of vans.

Of course, the reason that it’s my favorite car is that it is an extremely comfortable car to ride in and to drive, especially since I have back and knee problems. Driving Miss Daisy is one of the movies that I dearly like hence the name for my Caddy, Daisy. While everything may seem all right on the surface, like many of you with gas sucking cars can attest, the rapidly rising price of gasoline is taking its toll on my fondness for my otherwise perfect car. (Which, of course, leads me into the rest of my column.)

As the price of crude oil rises steadily on the world markets one certainly knows that the cost of fuel and gasoline will do the same. Oil closed at an all-time high of $77 a barrel on Friday and who knows when or where these rising prices will stop. Gasoline will certainly exceed $3 a gallon so we can be certain that the cost of heating oil (whether oil or kerosene) will do exactly the same thing.

On the Web site “AsMaineGoes.com,” there is a posting concerning the expected cost of fuel oil for schools and municipalities. It is very disheartening because the figures are based on $2.50 per gallon. What will the cost be for heating our homes this coming winter? What about the cost of firewood? Also on that Web site, there has been some discussion about the cost of cut and split firewood exceeding $200 a cord already.

My wife and I have begun our cutbacks at home. Instead of paying more than $10 on a haircut twice a month, I now buzz off my own hair. That leads into the conclusion of this column about what schools and municipalities should do to cut costs. Obviously, a little buzzing around the edges is due.

I certainly hope the administrators in charge of our towns and schools are planning for a sharp reduction in the use of gasoline and heating fuels similar to what we have or will be doing out of necessity. We have already heard the cries about more money being needed but will anything be done to help lower the demand?

Will thermometers be turned down a notch or two in buildings and classrooms? Will someone supervise to prevent unnecessary trips by publicly owned vehicles? Can trips be combined that have a similar purpose or destination? With the high cost of fuel expected to climb even higher – especially if something happens in the Middle East – will you be watching not only your own budget but the municipal and school budgets for logical reductions in order to pay for gasoline and heating oil? Will the cry of “public safety” be the excuse for filling the town’s and school’s coffers?

Although there is a lot of talk about alternative fuels to help reduce our dependency on oil imports from around the world, we are lagging far behind a country like Brazil, which has buckled down over the past decade or so to manufacture a gasoline substitute.

In the end the best solution to high fuel prices is, believe it or not, high fuel prices. When will we learn?

“Since when is “public safety” the root password to the Constitution.” C.D. Tavares


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