I realize my Subject line won't come as a surprise to anybody here. That oil and their massive amounts of money control much of what happens in this nation. But I usually read about it, not experience it directly in my interaction with somebody. Well that changed this weekend. I like to tell stories, so here is what I think is a pretty darn sad story. I can only assume similar stories play out throughout our entire nation on a daily basis.
I often mention here I live in rural, southern Illinois not that far from St. Louis. Well where my parents live and my family has lived since the 1870's is directly East of me, on the Illinois/Indiana border.
The population of their town is only about 12,500, but it kind of serves as the agriculture, banking, and manufacturing hub for multiple counties in both states. I mean there are some really, really rich folks living there.
Well long story short I was at my parent’s house the last few days. They love to sit on their large front porch, chit chat, and listen to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball games on the radio. People often randomly stop by to talk. Well that was the case when a couple that just moved in across the street came over.
As they introduced themselves, I had no idea where the conversation was about to go.
The gentlemen and his wife had just moved here from North Carolina, where they were both from. We quickly found out he went to LSU, which both my father and I did (guess the LSU flag flying next to the American flag outside was a dead giveaway for us). You might say there was something of a "kindred" friendship from the start. In fact, since the guy that lives on the corner worked in New Orleans for awhile, I think a date was thrown around for the three of them to have a Gumbo cook-off in the coming weeks.
But I digress.....
I am always curious what folks do for a living, so I asked him. He said he was hired to run a new economic develop group for the city/county. My dad jumped in to explain (he sits on the board of directors of the only local bank, community college, and runs the historical society) a number of local business people had given the group they formed millions to work to bring more business here.
I thought, well that is neat.
We chatted about this for awhile, because I find the topic of economic development fascinating.
Now before I continue, I need to explain something. You see in Southern IL we have some oil. Not Texas or Gulf of Mexico oil, but a lot more then I bet most people that don't live here know about. If you drive down a country road you see these things dotting the corn fields for as far as the eye can see.
I mentioned to him I had an economic development idea, which I have mentioned here often and I hear from fellow Kossacks Iowa is already doing. He was I'd like to hear about it.
I said that I thought they should look to replace all these oil wells (many decades old) with wind turbines. I went on to explain that the farmers already were pre-sold that their land could generate revenue from something other than a crop. The "footprint" would be about the same if not smaller then the oil wells. And maybe best of all every few miles, right on the side of the road, are tanks that the oil is pumped into, just yank out the tanks and put in a facility to gather and then transmit the power generated by the turbines.
It would be a win, win, win.
Plus, since there are a two huge factories in the town sitting idle/closed, maybe you could even get a company to take one over and make the turbines here. I mean there is a skilled labor force just waiting for jobs like this.
He looked at me smiling and said, in that Southern accent I so love, he actually thought that was a very interesting idea to explore. But it will never happen. Non-starter. Won't even be mentioned, much less researched in any detail.
I was like way?
He said that the two biggest donors to the economic development fund were "oil men." One in refining and the other in rigs and equipment.
There were like a thousand things I wanted to say, like couldn't the guy that provides the equipment and labor for the oil rigs just expand and do the same for wind? Oh so many things I wanted to say. But I was tired and just asked when they thought they'd have that gumbo cook-off.