If you want to have a lousy day, go ahead and figure how much the rise in fuel costs has affected your bottom line this year.

Not only are petroleum products sky high, but other fuels are following the curve, taking advantage of the increased demand. I just paid $250 per cord for firewood. In this area of the country, that would have been unthinkable two years ago.

If you’re not angry, you ought to be. If this continues it could destabilize our country; not just economically, either.

This is not a supply and demand issue. There is plenty of oil in the ground. What we have here are several groups of people who are willing to gouge us for profit (or other self-serving motives).

First, the oil producing nations keep supplies unnecessarily low. Second, the oil companies keep refinery capacity low. Third, market speculators drive the price higher and higher (it’s all just numbers on paper to them). Fourth, even though there are numerous examples in the world of the safety of nuclear energy (and how to safely deal with the spent fuel), our government has allowed special interest lobbies to shut down any further development of that energy source in the U.S. Fifth, even though there are numerous examples of  clean oil drilling operations all over the world (both on land and offshore), the cowards we elect have let the same groups stop virtually any oil exploration on U.S. territory (and there is a vast amount of oil sitting under U.S.-owned ground). They’re so afraid of the environmental left that they can’t even permit the drilling of oil in parts of Alaska where no one ever goes. We’re talking desolate wilderness here, not a wildlife park.

To be sure, there are several other key factors driving this false inflation of oil prices, but let’s stop here for now. And, please, spare me the letters about how high gas prices are a good thing since they will finally make greedy Americans stop driving SUVs. We are not going to conserve our way out of this. Also spare me the hand-wringing over “global warming.” Yes, we need alternatives to burning fossil fuels (whether or not human actions are causing any appreciable change in the planet’s temperature, it’s still a good idea), but we also need to get to work tomorrow and to heat our homes this winter.

The solutions? Here are a few.

First, get tough with the Middle East oil producing nations. If Saudi Arabia wants our fighter planes, they ought to sell us the oil to fuel those planes at a reasonable price. If Kuwait expects us to come to their rescue again, they should say “thank you” for the last time by lowering their price. We have spent over $500 billion (and thousands of American lives) to give the people of Iraq a real chance at freedom. They can start paying that debt back by drastically cutting their price of oil to the U.S. Do you think anyone in Washington has the guts? Neither do I.

Second, insist on a minimum refining capacity from the oil companies as a matter of national security. Also, Congress should start an investigation into collusion and price fixing. Let’s have some Watergate-style hearings this winter while tens of thousands of people decide whether to eat or heat their homes. Throw a few oil execs in jail and see how that affects the price of oil.

Third, regulate the commodities market so that speculators cannot get rich by driving up the price of oil to ridiculous levels. If necessary, make it a requirement that over a certain amount, they must actually take possession of the product. When it stops being all numbers on paper, the market would calm down.

Fourth, stop pandering to the 40 years of lies dished out by the environmental lobbies and start building nuclear power plants again. Several European nations get the majority of their power from nuclear plants. They store the spent fuel underground. If France can figure out how to do this, surely the United States can, too.

Fifth, force our politicians to stop being bullied and force them to make oil-drilling regulations based on science and technology and not fear mongering and lies. There are examples of clean oil production all over the world. We can do the same (and better) in the U.S.

Until enough Americans get mad, get informed and get on the phone with their elected representatives, we can expect the price of gas to climb higher and higher. Sure, it will drop a little as it does every year as summer turns to fall, but it won’t be long before it starts back up again.

I don’t know where the breaking point is, but when it gets reached, we’ll have a worldwide economic and social crisis on our hands that will make the Great Depression look like an economic bump in the road.