ll-time-highs and broken records are
usually the stuff of happy headlines, but some recent headlines
have been more ominous than happy because they report the national
average price of gasoline hit a record $1.75 per gallon and was
still heading north last week.
Of course, this is an average. According to AAA, prices have not
reached record levels all over.
But rising gas prices are a double-edged sword for travel at any
time. High prices at the pump can sometimes get people out of the
family car and into airplanes, cruise ships and motorcoaches, but
many hospitality firms and tourist attractions depend on the drive
market, too. Also, the same forces that put upward pressure on
gasoline prices are working their magic on jet fuel and other forms
of energy, making things tough all over.
The one thing we don't want is for things to be tough all over,
once again. So if conserving energy will help bring prices down, by
all means, feel free to conserve.
• • •
Gaining an hour, or two
ost of us in the U.S. just did
our annual "spring forward" thing, advancing our clocks as if
reaching ahead for summer, grabbing more of the sun. We appreciate
the extra light because it allows us more time to be out and about.
For the travel business, that can't be bad.
But lest we forget, there is an energy issue here, too. The very
idea of what we now call daylight-saving time is said to have
originated with the ever-thrifty Benjamin Franklin, who figured out
that advancing the clock in summer would conserve candle wax.
Three decades ago, during the energy crisis, daylight-saving
time was extended throughout most of 1974 and 1975 and, in both
years, the result was a measurable reduction in energy usage. And
three decades before that, during World War II, the U.S. set its
clocks ahead a full two hours to conserve fuel.
We're better off now than we were then. Still, having just
gained an hour, what would you think about keeping it a while
longer, or even gaining another?
• • •
he Statue of Liberty was
designed to be seen from the outside. Those who were lucky enough
to make it to the crown got a special treat, but they would likely
be the first to acknowledge that this is not a structure designed
for the mass movement of people.
The Interior Department's new plan for managing the site does
not include a resumption of public access to the interior of the
statue. This is a sad turn, but unlike some seemingly arbitrary
security rules we have seen, this decision strikes us as a prudent
move based on a sensible assessment of the statue's fire safety and
evacuation features -- or lack thereof.
In explaining the new plan, Interior Secretary Gail Norton
explained that "safety of citizens and preservation of the statue
are our main goals." So, for now, the steps will be spared the
pitter-patter of excited feet.
It's a price we'll pay, for now.