Who could have ever imagined that OIL would control the machinery of mankind and its evolution toward our own destruction? Black Gold. Texas Tea. Beverly Hillbillies stuff. You could rise to prominence as a somebody just because you had mineral rights to the oil under your feet. And you could pollute the planet and not care if you are so positioned to pay off government to leave you and your smokestacks alone.
I grew up in Port Arthur, Texas. More oil and chemical refineries to this day exist in this small coastal spit of geography than anywhere else in the world. But none of us youngsters growing up there in the 1950’s could ever imagine how big and controlling the oil business would become. All the world grew, too, with an unquestioned dependence on oil.
These large oil giants like Gulf Oil, Texaco, Humble Oil (soon to become Esso, then Exxon) began to accumulate billions of advertising dollars to dispel any of their wrongdoings to the environment. You troubled by a 100’ flame that shoots up in the air just 100 yards from your backyard fence? No problem. Oil ad money tells you why that is good for you. The oil money ad funds bought thousands of TV ads to show alligators and Blue Herons enjoying the phenols in the warm, sunny, swampland where oil refineries release chemicals and carcinogens into the water and air on a daily basis. But the oil companies sponsored hospitals, youth centers, and Little League baseball teams. The strong cabbage smell in the air, day and night, was a good thing. It was the smell of jobs and prosperity for you and your family who lived next door to refineries. Television and the newspapers told you so. That skunk cabbage odor, always with you, was the smell of money.
When oil was discovered in Spindletop, Texas, just a couple of miles off the Texas/Louisiana coast, money from the north came pouring down to Texas. The discovery was huge. Andrew Melon and his bank in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania sent trainloads of money down to the newly discovered Spindletop oilfields to buy up land and mineral rights. Soon after the Melon family built the refinery in Port Arthur, Texas and named it Gulf Oil. A perfect seaport for transferring oil products out and machinery and supplies in, Gulf Oil prospered. The Spindletop oilfield was less than 20 miles from the Gulf Oil Refinery. The community grew up overnight into a prosperous city with schools, businesses, and families who moved there seeking a better life thanks to oil. When I was 4 my parents gave up their country school teacher jobs in rural Central Texas and moved to Texas where my father worked for Gulf Oil at double the money than the 2 of them earned combined as teachers.
As time passed new oil discoveries were made in East and West Texas. The money followed. When gasoline at the pump was less than 10 cents per gallon, when you’re talking billions of gallons you are in the big money. Oil had become the new darling big business of all America.
So the Big Banks followed the oil discoveries and invested billions of dollars into drilling, refining, and most everything else. Land sales soared. Speculation made many rich overnight. Or broke, depending on the side of the trade you were on. Refineries sprang up everywhere. Texas became the oil state to rival them all.
Where there was money, it followed the oil, even as the years passed. So it was with the Bush family. In 1950 George Herbert Walker (Poppy) Bush moved his family to Midland, Texas.
“Offered a job at his father's Wall Street firm, Bush decided instead to set out for West Texas, to try his luck in the oil boom. A family friend, Neil Mallon, helped Bush land an entry-level job, and just two years later, Bush struck out on his own as a wildcatter, purchasing land with money from investors and hoping to strike oil. Bush partnered with a neighbor and friend, John Overbey, who knew the oil business inside and out. With Bush's East Coast investment connections and Overbey's expertise, the two were moderately successful, and soon joined with a team of two brothers from Oklahoma to create Zapata Petroleum. Zapata struck it big at an oil field in Coke County known as Jameson Field. Meanwhile, back in Connecticut, Bush's father was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952. Following his father's example, after having made enough money to secure his family's future, Bush started to explore politics.” – PBS, The American Experience television series
Instead of taking a position with his father’s New York City investment banking firm, Poppy would use his father Prescott Bush’s connections back East to fund Zapata Oil’s exploration expenses back in the wild west of Texas and Oklahoma. Backers were not hard to come by when you came from money. Especially from old money, e.g., the Browns, Walkers, Herbert’s, Harriman’s, get the picture? And of course from Yale and Harvard buddies.
From the Bush old money connections of New England to the sand dunes of West Texas is quite a leap of faith. One could almost call it liberal to depend upon such new and risky endeavors. But not to worry: There was plenty of hard money at the ready back East, and turning it into more money was a piece of cake for Poppy Bush. Like Andrew Melon who gave birth to Gulf Oil around 1900, here came Poppy Bush a half century later, still seeking the best investment for old money to make more money. Piece of cake if you got something of value like air, water, or food. Or oil. And connections to get deep pockets to back your ventures. Poppy knew what he was doing. After doing an internship with Dresser of Odessa, he struck out in partnership and formed Zapata Oil Company.
Midland, Texas, one of the driest, most desolate landscapes in all of America, would not exist had it not been for the discovery of oil. Neither would Odessa or any other of the smaller West Texas towns. Money follows oil because oil became the life’s blood, the end-all to human endeavors to seek jobs, wealth, and power. Everything a half century after the Spindletop discovery insured that the smart money would still follow oil. But it had just begun. That was then in the 1950’s when Poppy Bush moved to Midland. Now in 2013, oil is alive and well, even more than then. Gasoline at the pump is now over $3.50 per gallon in America, and who knows the price overseas? Oil had become the new life’s blood to every human activity or anything made of plastic. Fracking and other new techniques have been developed to increase the production by sucking oil out of the rocks where it had been trapped tighter than a wood tick’s jaw for millions of years.
So after 100 years oil as one of the main essentials in life other side ventures have been born. Mainly, a country blessed with oil and reserves all over the globe soon realizes that it is imperative to protect the oil reserves at all costs. Countries build up massive arms and military means to protect the oil. You built 100’s of military bases all over the globe. You built weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems to bluff down other countries that might raid your oil supply lines by sabotaging your pipelines. You scared the American voter into believing that we needed to deliver shock and awe bombings upon Iraq. Why? Simply because they had weapons of mass destruction already trained upon American cities. We just could not wait and take the chance, so Bush told us. And whatever else was true or false, now we “cannot afford to allow the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” Pretty poetic stuff. Pretty scary. It worked.
Since Spindletop 100s of countries have been invaded in trumped up wars of aggression, but the real reason was oil. Take Iraq. I wish we hadn’t. And Iran and our saber rattling about the puny excuse to invade them is because they are developing nuclear weapons, fat chance. It’s the oil, stupid. It always is. So protecting the largest oil deposits in the world has become the affairs of those nations like the United States whose very existence is at stake as a sovereign power. Oil became a much, much more important consideration to any nation than the viability and strength of its currency. Without oil the gears stopped turning, and a country would collapse overnight. Without oil a nation would go to war quicker than a spring yard pullet after a June bug just to get it.
So where do the Tea Baggers come into play? Whence cometh this Bush Junior madness to invade Iraq and stay boots on the ground for years when Iraq did not harm us? Could it be that the Bagger mentality is to go for the gold? Even if it is black gold? The Tea Bagger philosophy seems to exude and hover about Neocons such as the Koch Brothers most conspicuously. In Neocon tradition the Kochs have shown that they are out for themselves. They don’t want no new taxes on their corporations or their persons. They are about increasing their profits, spending little as possible on cleaning up their smokestack pollution of the planet while screwing the poor and the working class out of a minimum wage. They are for the elimination of any other government expense that would take money out of their pockets. Ever wondered what the Koch Brothers are doing backing the Tea Party grass roots movement to lower taxes upon all Americans? To them does it really matter? Just what are they up to? Why would anybody listen to them when they don’t even know what they believe in? Like if they want to cut government spending let them start with the Defense Budget, right? Think again. The Tea Party in their zeal to curb government spending has yet to suggest, much less mention defense spending.
Is this attack, occupy, and tie up the oil supplies of the richest oil deposits in the world a part of the New World Order to which Poppy once alluded? Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq are the largest concentrations of oil pools in the world. Well, to the great delight of al Qaeda, we toppled Iraq and brought them democracy, I think. The Saudis support us for their own protection and billions we give them in foreign aid (as though they really need it). Iran, we keep jawboning about as a nuclear threat. Are we planning on taking their oil sometime soon? I mean why not attack North Korea if the US is so uptight about other countries with nukes? Or Pakistan, why not? Could it be that they have zero oil? Go figure. Is oil the only solution to world energy problems and starving populations? And if not, will the oil companies continue to lobby and pay governments to keep solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources in the deep freeze and out of our reach?