In our interview, Hamm spoke of the “renaissance” that’s going on today — a renaissance in oil and gas. This development owes a lot to a relatively new technique, horizontal drilling. (“Fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, is a better-known technique. But it’s a relatively old one: Erle P. Halliburton performed the first frack jobs in the 1940s.)
The renaissance also owes something to federal distaste for, or indifference to, North Dakota. Because the federal government controls very little land in that state, citizens are free to conduct their own affairs, and they have an oil boom going on there. (To read a report I did on this boom last year, go here.)
Anyway, let me get to my point: which is that the United States has now passed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the top producer of oil and natural gas in the world. The Left, including the Obama administration, has done a lot to strangle this “renaissance.” But they have not succeeded. Oil and gas are supposed to be energy of the past, yesterday’s business, to give way to newer and “greener” technologies. Something like that will undoubtedly happen.
In the meantime, what a blessing the oil-and-gas renaissance is — for jobs, economic growth, and much else.
When Harold Hamm was in high school, he was in a “distributive education” program. That meant that you got credit for working. Hamm worked 50 or 60 hours a week at a truck stop. For “D.E. class,” as they called it, young Hamm wrote a paper about oil exploration. He wrote about the leading “explorationists”: J. Paul Getty, Harry Sinclair, E. W. Marland, Bill Skelly, H. H. Champlin, Frank Phillips. They found oil, and pumped it. They not only did well for themselves, they built up the state of Oklahoma, through their businesses and their philanthropy.
Hamm thought to himself, “That’s what I’m going to do.” It may have been an audacious thought for the 13th, or any, child of poor sharecroppers. But think it he did, and he followed through to a T.
An amazing story. Many kids want to be astronauts, but never become one. They want to be NFL quarterbacks, and never become one. Harold Hamm wanted to find oil and gas, strike it rich, and better the lives of the people around him. That is exactly what he’s doing.
I think you will enjoy this story. You’ve got to be a pretty dedicated left-winger not to, I think.
A little language? When I was in Oklahoma City, to see Hamm, I heard a pronunciation I had never heard before: A man pronounced favorite “fave-or-ite.” There were three syllables. And the last rhymed with “kite.” “Fav-or-ite.”
I liked it, a lot.
The context was this: The man said he wanted to show me his favorite hat. It was an Oklahoma Sooners hat, featuring Barry Switzer, the erstwhile coach. The hat had a slogan on it: “Hang half a hundred on ’em.” That’s what Switzer said when he wanted to score 50 points against an opponent, or beat them by 50 points. (Interpretations vary.)
(Let me say that I detest running up a score.)
I walked through a neighborhood called the JFK Neighborhood. Periodically, there were signs with the late president’s silhouette on them. A handsome silhouette it was, too.
For a long time, I’ve been rather amazed by the celebrity of this president. Believe me, I understand that he was murdered, and that this means all sorts of emotion. But I have to ask — maybe you’ll forgive me — What if he had been fat, homely, and Republican?
I was pleased to see a Frederick A. Douglass High School — there should be more institutions named after that sterling American (and Republican, by the way).
Outside an elementary school — I didn’t see the name — a man was putting his charges through some kind of drill. He was a big, burly man, and he barked at these kids like a drill sergeant. They were obeying, perfectly attentive. I thought how lucky those kids were.
The YWCA says, “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women.” You can eliminate racism? Lessening and mitigating would be ambition enough . . .
I had never been to Oklahoma before, and I found that the song is no lie: The wind really does come sweepin’ down the plain. It blows hard, regardless. I’m sure that the good Oklahoma golfers, like their Texas counterparts, can keep the ball low.
The employees of the James E. Stewart Golf Course — a nine-holer near the JFK neighborhood — could not be nicer. But I have to mention this: A sign outside the clubhouse says, “No Firearms Allowed.”
You see that? Even Oklahomans can get squishy. (That was a joke.)
A filling station bears a proud sign: “100 Percent Gas, No Ethanol.” That’s a little unkind to Iowans, I think.
I wish to inform you about a bit of heaven: the buttermilk pie at Bedlam BAR-B-Q (warm and with vanilla ice cream, of course). “See Naples and then die,” the Italians used to say. Have some buttermilk pie at Bedlam, and go ahead and ascend.
Care for some music? I did not have a chance to hear any in Oklahoma City, but I have back home in New York. For a review of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, go here. The review is on The New Criterion’s website. James Levine was the conductor, and Joyce DiDonato, the mezzo-soprano from Kansas, was the soloist.
I was talking about heaven. Let’s continue with this subject. Mahler wrote a song called “The Heavenly Life,” which he incorporated into his Fourth Symphony. This leads me to share with you a letter from a reader:
I’ve been retired since May of last year. I love it. I’m working (?) toward a single-digit handicap and reading NRO at my leisure.
Thanks for joining me, everyone — retirees and non-retirees, golfers and non-golfers — and see you soon.