Friday, December 30, 2011

At This Level, I Am A Marxist Socialist -- Absolutely Everything To Do With The Bakken

Link here.

I think I may have seen this NY Times story earlier but did not post it/link it. But after seeing some of the quotes in this story (same link) the NY Times is absolutely nuts, and completely missing a bigger story. And if anyone should see the bigger story, it should be the NY Times.

The writer says the boom is not fair. Well, duh.

The writer notes that some folks in North Dakota are now able to afford a new automobile for the first time in their lives because of royalties (or a good-paying job); and some folks are taking a vacation for the first time in their lives because of royalties (or a good-paying job); but some folks are not benefiting from the boom.

Read the story closely. Then try to square this story with the fact that the NY Times is going broke, and has lost 80 percent of its share price in the stock market. It's not difficult to do. How can one square the rest of their journalistic acumen (of lack thereof) with their spin on this story, and missing the bigger story?

In case the link is broken, here are some of the actual NY Times' quotes:
As with any major boom — from real estate to tech stocks to natural resources — the sudden split between the winners and the witnesses has been painful. But this is happening in a small town, where proximity and familiarity make a sudden reordering all the more difficult.
“It’s not all good,” said Leslie Anderson, who is among the lucky locals who sometimes make more from a single month of oil payments than he used to earn in a year of farming. “There are lots of families fighting that got along before.” …
Residents say a culture of modest living means they don’t know for sure which of their neighbors are making money off oil, though they have suspicions.
“I’m seeing people that have never owned a new vehicle in their life driving a new car,” said Wade Enget, a local lawyer, who estimated that about half the residents are receiving oil money. “People who never took a day off are going on vacation.”
Anyone upset over the fact that a neighbor bought a new vehicle for the first time in his/her life, or anyone upset over the fact that a neighbor can take a vacation for the first time in his/her life, that "anyone" needs to get a life. A new car, a vacation! Even without royalties, anyone already with a place to live in the Bakken, can find an incredibly well-paying job. And a well-paying job will result in a new car or a vacation if that is what one desires.

Housing is the problem; getting a job in North Dakota is not.

I am thrilled for any North Dakota farmer who becomes a millionaire. Folks need to do a bit of reading; they can start with Plains Folks: North Dakota's Ethnic History. It has not been an easy road for these farmers or their grandparents. The book can be bought at or at Books on Broadway in Williston. (Some years ago I read out load Giants in the Earth to a very close friend; I was unable to get through the last chapter without tearing up. I read the book to her to provide some background to where I came from. She was from the East Coast; our backgrounds were very different. But I digress.)

By the way, if Leslie Anderson is concerned, he can donate eleven months' of royalties to those who need it. I don't have a lot of time for folks who are "concerned" but are rich beyond their dreams and don't know how to help.

If it's a small community, all they have to do is set up a co-op and share. That was the history of those who came to North Dakota a hundred years ago. (Read "Langer and the NPL" at this site.) My hunch is that in a community of 50 people, or in a community of ten families, three or five "lucky ones" could make life very, very nice for everyone in that small community. They could set up a trust fund for the community of 50.

I own no mineral rights but if I became an overnight millionaire by being "one of the lucky ones," I would make it right with my "small community." At this level, in this situation, I am a Marxist socialist.

Cher said it best: "I've been poor and I've been rich. Rich is better."

Part of "rich being better" is to share it with your family and neighbors.

[Cher, by the way, is one of my favorite philosophers.]

This video has nothing to to do with this post. It simply caught my fancy. "Dance Me To the End of Love" was written by Leonard Cohen. I honestly did not think there could be a better interpretation of this song than Leonard's but I do think Ms Peyroux has nailed it. The video editing/synchronization is incredible.

Dance Me To The End of Love, Leonard Cohen, performed by Madeleine Peyroux


  1. Bruce, totally agree with you. Those families who are fighting over the money, probably have never gotten along, they'evjust found something else to fight about.
    Thanks to the hard work and shrewd business sense of my grandparents my family has been blessed with an income and something to put away for my grandkids.
    We're not getting rich, but certainly don't hold anything against those who are.
    Personally I think anyone who cann handle living in ND deserves a break anyway, it's not for the faint of heart.

  2. Thank you.

    The challenge of living in North Dakota is an interesting phenomenon. It seems that up until the age of 16 or so, one does not realize how challenging it is; it's just part of life.

    Then, between the ages of 16 and, oh, maybe 55, one realizes how difficult it really it.

    And then, for the "long termers," after age 55, or maybe 65, it's probably different for different folks, it doesn't seem to be all that difficult. It seems to get easier for some as they get older. Or maybe they just accept it. Or maybe they realize how valuable their families and friends are, and that (family and friends) trump everything else.

  3. Bruce,
    I'm amazed with the enormous amount of information you've linked to your blog! It is refreshing to also read your insights. As a high school student at Williston High School back in the 70s, I vividly remember reading "Giants in the Earth". It made a profound impression on me as to what what grandparents were faced with as they homesteaded in Truax Township outside of Williston. If only they, and my parents, could see the oil rigs springing up everywhere!
    Thank you so much for providing so many interesting links and stories to follow. I appreciate it so much!!

  4. You are very welcome. I have learned a lot by doing this (the blog).

    I don't think my writing has gotten any better, but I like to think the content is improving. When I go back to read some of my early stuff, it sure sounds naive, and the early stuff is just a year or so old. I'm learning as I go along.

    I think your parents and grandparents would be absolutely amazed to see what is going on -- but somehow I think they would take it all in stride.

    Thank you for taking time to comment. And you are correct; there is a ton of stuff linked. I post three to five new stand-alone posts every day (if possible and if I'm not traveling) and update many other earlier posts. After awhile it adds up.

  5. The NYT is a progressive liberal rag. That means they believe in the redistribution of wealth by force and they play the class warfare to the max. Even though the spread in wealth is the greatest right under there nose in New York City. So they focus on North Dakota? Give me a break.

    So what if some, even many, don't own mineral rights. There are plenty of jobs paying incredible compensation. The Times is fanning the flames of envy and jealousy. After all North Dakota in their mind is a backwards place that shouldn't have the opportunity to prosper.

    There is alot more to say about the progressive liberal elite east coast mindset but it isn't worth the time. Just a sickness learned in the salons of liberal education like the Ivy League.

  6. What amazes me is that "they" or someone is willing to continue losing money on this -- at least those holding shares. I realize digital media is changing everything, but the Wall Street Journal seems to be thriving.

    Same with the low ratings on MSNBC: they are willing to lose market share and, I presume, money, with such unbalanced reporting. I don't get it. Well, actually I do, but I find it amazing so many investors stick with them.

  7. embraceyourinnerhillbillyDecember 31, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    If you don't own mineral out an extra room or two...plenty of ways to profit.
    The guys who made the most money during the Gold Rush Days here in CA were the dudes selling the equipment/supplies to the miners.

  8. I've often thought about that (renting out extra rooms). Especially in Williston, where I think everyone has a basement that could be easily converted to a two-bedroom apartment.

  9. Bruce-Sometimes you can blame the people doing the leasing for friction among families.I know of a case where one the families were torn apart because one of the children held out and received double his siblings received since they took an earlier offer.

  10. Bruce, at this time of the year I think it is appropriate for me to thank you again for the personal responses to my questions about fracking and other things, but I love to follow your daily blogs about our home town and the comprehensive information about the Bakken and about the economic boom in Northwestern North Dakota. Living in Florida, I have found that you are my primary source of information about my "homeland"

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

  11. Don, thank you for your kind comments.

    It's ironic or interesting that you should be posting a nice comment just when I was in the process of responding to the comment just before yours regarding the family "being torn apart over lease money."

    The following is my response to that comment (not your comment); it's just that comments and replies get out of order.


    So, to the family that is "being torn apart by lease money":

    I understand what you are saying, but you will be disappointed in my response.

    I have no time for families that get "torn apart" over money (in situations like this).

    First of all, that's what leasing is all about; negotiating. Unless folks have lived under the Geico rock for the past five years, everyone knows that leasing is a matter of negotiations. I wouldn't blame the land men at all; they are just trying to get the best deal possible. Life is unfair.

    Second of all, it appears folks have misread what I was saying earlier: instead of greed, this family could be working together to do something with the lease money they have: if they love money that much that it's tearing them apart, they could form an investment club and work on investing their money, and making millions.

    But something tells me this family couldn't be social enough or civil enough to each other to form an investment club. And they're family! Think how they must be treating outsiders, like land men!

    Anyway, enough said, I really have no time for families being torn apart over money (in situations like this) -- I guess getting the Ten Commandants drilled into me when I was in kindergarten has made me the way I am.

    But I certainly would not blame the land men.

    This family needs to get a life, and maybe do some reading, starting with "Giants in the Earth" and/or "Plains Folk: North Dakota's Ethnic History."

  12. I understand. The leasing of our family's properties has been a source of togetherness for all of us, who live so far apart. Now we have many more reasons to communicate and stay in touch. In fact, the scattered family has now discovered that they like to get together and are enjoying their trips down here more than ever. We are having a reunion cruise in March.

    One never knows what may happen to bring a family closer, and in this case, the excitement about possibilities keeps us in close contact.

    Thanks again.

  13. To Don,

    Wow! What an upbeat note. Thank you. I am thrilled for you and your family. I hope it (the oil patch) continues to do well for you. I can't say enough positive things about families who rise above potentially disruptive issues. Good for you and congrats.

  14. No I am not disappointed in your answer because it was the right answer.That is why I enjoy reading this blog.In a perfect world the person doing the leasing would go back and give the other family members the same deal.He was doing his job and I agree the family should have been above the problem.Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year. PS f you haven't tried the cheeseburgers at the Palermo Bar & Cafe you are missing out.

  15. Thank you for not being too hard on me. Sometimes I'm not as tactful as I should be, or could be.

    And thank you for the cheeseburger tip. I'm thinking I should make it a goal to find the best hamburgers in the country; my brother-in-law is a huge hamburger aficionado and he might enjoy being part of the quest. I blogged about Whataburger on one of my other blogs, but that blog is currently not available to the general public.

    You, too, have a great 2012.