While going through boxes during a move some years ago, I found Esso gasoline receipts from the '60s (Esso subsequently became Exxon in the United States). I showed them to my children and they were stunned. The price for a fill-up then was $3. Today, the price of gasoline has shot past $3 a gallon and some petroleum analysts predict prices equaling Europe's of $4 or more per gallon by summer 2007. That would mean a cost of $80 to fill a 20-gallon tank.
No study or special commission is needed to understand the root cause of growing energy costs. We've known it for years. Demand fuels cost. While there have been numerous efforts to curb demand or seek alternative energy sources since the 1973 Arab oil boycott, which began the escalation of gas prices, none has taken hold because the price always fell back to acceptable levels. From solar power, to windmills, to today's hybrid cars, nothing seems to have caught on sufficiently to force us to change our oil consuming ways.
Here's something that will: an enemy.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced a goal of putting an American on the moon by the end of the decade. That goal was achieved eight years later. What drove America was the "space race" with the Soviet Union. Communism was evil and we could not afford to allow the Soviets to get to the moon before we did. There were military concerns about what the Soviets might do with a base on the moon, but pride and prestige were also important factors.
It is going to take an enemy to break our oil addiction. The perfect enemy is the oil-producing states with a track record for funding terrorism and whose brand of religion produces young fanatics determined to destroy the West.
If we can get to the moon, virtually from scratch and in just eight years, we can become independent of the mullahs, ayatollahs, sheiks, imams and whackos like the president of Iran and assorted other world criminals who hate us and want to destroy us. This will call for strong leadership from President Bush and future presidents, regardless of party.
Various congressional investigations and reporting have revealed that the United States is subsidizing its own destruction because some of the biggest oil-producing states underwrite terrorism.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.