Saturday, June 14, 2008

Profiles In Leadership

So at that time increasing domestic production was a proposed solution to the energy crisis.

I recall this comedic speech with Carter trying to act resolute and failing miserably. I was building new oil drilling equipment at the time and business was booming. I recall that I, along with many others, believed that 'America would always need America's oil' and this speech didn't discourge investment despite raging inflation with 18-21% interests rates.

We had a running contract with Noble Drilling, we built maybe a dozen drilling rig 'cadillacs' for Golden Eagle heading for the North Slope and a huge contract with a firm out of Houston to build 26 'million pounder' triples ( capable of racking 3 stands of pipe and dead lifting 1 million pounds.). Manufacturing these required tons of steel, 3 desiel engines, welders, machinists, electricians and over 30 tractor trailers to transport.

There was a shortage of labor and wages were high. At this time you could walk off your job and be working the next day. The old man that owned the company was an semi-literate Canjun that had worked the North Slope when drilling started. He had made a deal to be paid partially in the company's stock. Within a few years he cashed in and a multi-millionaire was made. He got tired of semi-retirement and started our company, eventually putting over 300 people to work. The South was rising again. The TV series 'Dallas', framed Hollywood's vision of the excesses of 'BigOil'. And for the Americans sitting out there waiting to be told what to think 'Big Oil' was stigmatized.

At the same time, manufacturing was taking a hit in the upper Midwest. Because of the inflation wages could not keep up. Workers in these states, being unionized, were striking all of the time for more money. The iron workers went on strike and we suddenly found ourselves without a reliable source of steel. We were forced to start buying Korean steel. It was cheaper, higher quality and very reliably delivered. We never bought American steel again. In the years following that workers from Michigan to Minnesota started showing up in the oil company's hiring offices.

Then, after encouraging an increase in domestic production Carter signs off on the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Act in 1980. The impression had been made that oil companies were making obscene profits and were the cause of the people's woes as a result of inflation. The reality is that compared to the big league nature of the oil industry most other industries were in the whiffle-ball league. Lots of zeroes on those oil dollars. In fact the oil industry's profits were less than many of these whiffle-ball leaguers. Carter and the Democrat Congress were taking a populist view of the oil industry in hopes of staying in power which is, in fact, the only calculation in a populist's decision process.

The election of 1980 was the people's answer to the malaise of the Carter years. It would be appropriate to call it the Ejection of 1980. People needed CHANGE they could believe in, HOPE for a better life and a leader with the AUDACITY to face the self-inflicted issues before us. Ronald Reagan was that leader.

By then the windfall profits tax had taken billions out of investment and diverted it to the US Treasury. One of the first sectors of the oil industry to decline was orders for new equipment. The boom was coming to an end. There were also poor business decisions made as company's tried to find ways to survive. We adjusted by moving into the maintenance of existing equipment but in short order we were looking outside of the industry for something to manufacture. Sometime in 1982 I received my last check from an oil related business. Now that happened when domestic production was robust. Imagine what will happen now when it is nearly non-existent.

The Democrats Pelosi and Durbin have made the point that we cannot drill ourselves out of this mess. In the short term they are correct. But it is a mess they have taken part in creating and have learned nothing in decades. In a long term consideration that is the equivalent of saying we can't grow crops and eat out way out of starvation. Had they allowed exploration in Anwar ten years ago we would not be in this mess. Maybe we would not have had to expend our blood and resources maintaining our society's access to energy from unstable regions of the world.

I have heard no discussion whatsoever of the stimulus to our economy that putting the steel workers, electricians, millwrights, welders, engineers from all disciplines, truck drivers, thousands of general laborers back to work would have.

But the most important consideration to people like Pelosi and Durbin, who could change this all in a single vote, find it more important that the same people that created this mess continue to stay in power. The rest of us be damned.

We cannot afford a second Carter term. Been there, done that, only an simpleton would want to go through it again.


Phelonius said...

Good post amigo.

I remember the year that Reagan came into the White House. There was a palpable feeling of relief, as not only the hostages in Iran were given back, but there was a real feeling of American pride again. The years of government socialist experiments came to and end and we had someone there that knew what the problem actually WAS.

IMHO, those ideals have not changed on tiny WHIT. There is no reason to believe that returning to the Carter policies is going to benefit us in any way whatsoever.

IOpian said...

I recall breathing a sigh of relief that finally there were serious adults running the country.