Lifelong friends and former Howard Payne graduates and later teacher, Dr. S.L. Harris and his wife Fleta, are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary tomorrow. I was going to send them a pretty card until I bought some gas. I had no money left to even buy them a card, much less pay the postage.

Everybody I know has made a face or walked away shaking their heads when the cost of petrol is mentioned. It is beyond me to understand what is going on with the ultra-wealthy who somehow have made money on our misery. It is a mystery just what, who or how many are trying to send the rest of us to the poor house.

The CBS program “60 Minutes” featured a guy with a yacht nearly three football fields long. It cost him a million dollars a year just for maintenance. He must have known higher diesel bills were coming, he added some huge computer controlled sails. He had no reply when ask how much was enough.

The real tragic part of the story is our tax dollars have aided most of these billionaires to be where they are. Using the laws they twisted to their benefit. (For more on that read: “Free Lunch, How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Them-selves At Government Expense And Stick You With The Bill” by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, David Cay Johnston.)

We are being priced out of the market of living with little input or say-so. Tuesday, June 10, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked a proposal to tax the windfall profits of the largest of the oil companies. The tax was on “unreasonable” profits. So much for help from our representatives.

AAA reports a doubling of distress calls from drivers who have run out of gas. Comic Craig Ferguson on CBS reported: “For the first time ever, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline is over $4, which explains the new nickname for gasoline — Starbucks for your car.”

One convenience store clerk told me of having at least one thief a week trying to get gas without paying for it. We know that happens in big metro areas, but here! He also said they were not all teenagers, but old enough to know what they were doing. (That is not to imply teenagers are non-knowing.)

These high gas prices have hit at a very inopportune time. Since credit cards became the rage in the late 1970s, a whole generation has turned to the plastic as a way of life. And don’t think the credit card companies do not know that. They have convinced Congress to give them outlandish high interest rates; penalties for one-day-late payments; pushing cards week after week in mail-outs, even trying to get my mother to buy one (she has been in heaven some years now)!

Credit card television adverting is built on one lie after another. It is not the way to a happy vacation in Mexico or Hawaii, but a ball and chain, that once you are caught, it’s difficult to shake it off. A friend tried to use some of the credit he had built up by using his card only to give up when he had to fill out all kinds of forms, not to mention other small print in his contract.

Lucy Lazarony of reminds us that for hundreds of years, “societies around the world have protected borrowers by limiting interest rates charged by lenders. But in today’s credit card market, American borrowers are on their own.”

Most U.S. states make no effort to cap credit card interest rates. Most credit cards set up offices in states without usury laws.

Credit card companies do not want us to pay off the balance every month. If we did, they would go broke. An honest loan business with reasonable interest rates is good for everybody. These plastic people-eaters are not honest and are taking advantage of the young and vulnerable.

I’m told that 56 percent of senior class college students carry four or more credit cards. Frugality is missing from everybody’s vocabulary. Is the word even still in the dictionary?

Pardon if I sound rude, but it was dumb to use credit cards even before gasoline got so expensive.

Britt Towery, a native of Brownwood and free-lance writer. His column appears in the Brownwood Bulletin on Fridays. He welcomes comments at