North Dakota Oil Boom Should Benefit Locals
Developing the oil fields of western North Dakota and eastern Montana need not be a repeat of the gold rush in the Black Hills during the 1870s, with white speculators trampling on the lives of the Sioux to get at the precious mineral. We know better now.
Financial entrepreneurs from all over the world will want a piece of the action. Joad-type subsistence families start the trek to the land of milk and money, throwing themselves on the welfare system in case things don’t work out.
After all, many of those currently out of work are jobless for good reason. Some really don’t want to work, or as little as possible. Others are incompetent and morally inept or downright stupid.
Some workers will come just because there’s a certain amount of lawlessness in boomtowns on the frontier, staying ahead of the authorities who need a learning curve to catch up with the sharpies, predators, and con artists from large urban zones.
In North Dakota, jobs should go to local people, reaching out concentrically from the work site, keeping the ethnic mix as consistent as possible with people now living there. How would you like to wake up one morning only to find that all your family and neighbors have been forced out, now populated with seeming foreigners that you have little in common with? It happened throughout eastern Europe during the late 1940s.
National energy independence is a possible benefit of oil development in North Dakota. But under “moderate” liberal regimes from both parties, extra revenues will likely go to enhancing Big Government and the welfare state instead.
Some local people will welcome any kind of disruptive “progress” because their net worth will be increased along with property values. There will be more shopping and “eating out” variety. There will also be more government and taxation wherever you look to soak up the added profit to individuals. Most of the profits will go to fat cats in cities far away.
Other people just want to keep what they have without being taxed out of their existing homes. A day at the Badlands means a lot to families, but this might change as the oil fields surround wilderness areas. The rural, Christian, patriotic, and small town America feel of affected areas shouldn’t be brushed aside too quickly to accommodate greed, profit, and a laissez-faire version of “progress.”
Editor’s Note: The image of the North Dakota Badlands above is of an oil painting entitled “God’s Grand Canyon –Badlands North Dakota” by David Christie, and appears here by permission. You can see a better representation of this 60″ x 60″ oil HERE.