Gasoline consumption is down. Natural gas consumption is down. We are extracting more American crude and gas than ever, despite government interference. So why is the price of gasoline at the pump skyrocketing out of control?

Don’t supply and demand dictate prices? Sort of, but supply and demand are manipulated by vested interests. OPEC members hold 79% of world crude oil reserves and 44% of the world’s crude oil production. They manipulate supply at the well. Big Oil oligopolies such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell transport crude from OPEC, refine it into petroleum products, and distribute those to retailers. They manipulate supply at the refinery by accelerating or decelerating output. They manipulate domestic supply by selling refined product overseas. The Federal Government manipulates supply by curtailing federal land leases, onerous regulations, taxation, delaying tactics and political ideology such as Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s desire for Americans to punitively pay more at the pump in order to wean them off gasoline.

Speculation by unregulated oil futures exchanges may account for an estimated 60% increase in price of oil per barrel. A $100 barrel of oil should really cost $40. Investigations by paper tiger CTFC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) turned up the usual suspects in unregulated speculation including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Vitol, a Swiss company with 11% of oil futures contracts in the New York Mercantile Exchange alone.

The cost of gasoline at the pump (representing all gas and oil products) drives the cost of everything in our lives, directly or indirectly

America as we knew it, is sitting on a time bomb that no one is willing to discuss publically, because there is no apparent solution. On top of unlimited pressure from runaway oil prices, unfunded pensions, and the increasing longevity of Americans will destroy this country in a complex but catastrophic way.

There is hope for America. Currently gas and crude oil are viewed as commodities to be exploited even at the expense of our country. Domestic consumption is down, production is up, prices at the pump are skyrocketing; yet our number one export is petroleum products. “Me first, America second” will remain the mantra of Big Oil, and Wall Street as long as we think of oil as a commodity.

We must view oil as a STRATEGIC NATIONAL WEAPON, a weapon of unfair strategic advantage over all our friends and enemies around the world.

China has unlimited cheap labor, an unfair advantage. Energy being equal, industry moves to China. Imagine $2 gas at the pump here, $4 in China representing energy cost in general. That would drive industry back to America. $2 gas at the pump drives the cost of EVERYTHING in your life down, a true stimulus package.

In 1975 OPEC punished us for supporting Israel. A five-month oil embargo was initiated. Interest rates climbed to 21%. The stock market crashed. We waited for hours on line every other day to fill up our cars. Oil as a weapon of mass destruction was born.

We did not learn our lesson. We still import 22% of our oil from the Middle East. When war with Iran erupts, gas prices will skyrocket. For the past 37 years we lived with the fantasy that alternative fuel was going to get us out of this mess. America as we know it will not be present when alternative energy is practical.

Our military faces high unemployment upon discharge because many military skills do not translate into civilian skills. We must create an elite army of petroleum scientists, geologists, and engineers to find, safely extract, refine, and distribute this Strategic National Weapon. Upon discharge they will have valuable skills.

We must ban all speculation, except by direct consumers, on all petroleum products harvested on United States Territories.

Build military refineries, and break all reliance on Middle Eastern oil. We can still buy oil from the Saudis, refine it, and sell it to the world market at whatever the market will bear. This will still honor the deal we made with them to support the dollar as the world currency in exchange for buying their oil. But American oil for the American people will be the new mantra. It’s a question of national security.

American oil and gas belongs to, and must be utilized for, the American people. If we put a man on the moon, we can certainly put $2 gas in the pump. To the apologists and naysayers, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country”.

Luis F. Villar MD FACS