Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp
Vol. 2012 No. 1

Best wishes to the small band of readers who comprise the basis for producing this.  It’s early enough in 2012 on this date of January 3rd for me to comment on the issues rather than football games where I found it easier to pick a team I favored rather than the likely winner.

And so it is with 2012 where the substance of that this Windows causes me to consider whether to wish “Happy New Year” or to address the year as follows. 


From a piece published December 28th, 2011 entitled “Wealth Gap Grows Between the Congress and the People,” the University of Michigan promptly notes the 83% disapproval rating of the Congress to be the worst recorded and measured by Gallup since tracking congressional job performance began thirty years ago; with the wealth of the average American family having declined over the last quarter century from $20,600 to $20,500 due to debt service and housing value decline. During the same period the average U.S. representative’s net worth rose from $280,000 to $725,000 (not including homes) – nearly three fold.  While Republican House member, Darrell Issa of California, of whom I know nothing, weighed in at $448,125,017, Nancy Pelosi measured $101,123,032 as champion of the poor.


For a glimpse of the Senate, John F. Kerry, former Democrat Presidential nominee of Massachusetts, weighs in at $231,722,794 excluding homes, and on whom author Peter Schweizer has more to note in his latest book, “Throw Them All Out,” which I found an excellent read completed today January 3rd, 2012. 


Why is the net worth of the average working family so low?  The article which references reports by the N.Y. Times and Washington Post notes, “because so many Americans today are out of work, behind on their mortgages, and deep in debt.”


When I first met Peter it was back in Minnesota during Ronald Reagan’s first presidential term in 1981 after his defeat of Jimmy Carter. Peter’s background was Stanford University accompanied by research at the Hoover Institution, a California “think tank.”  I was attracted to the articulate, bright, then researcher because he saw problems for mid-sized oil and gas exploration and production companies, realizing that the OPEC cartel could break us all were they to briefly flood the global oil market with oil prices driven down from $20.00 to $10.00 or less per barrel.  Both of us thought that such a drop would have a corollary impact of significantly reducing the amount of U.S. oil produced from small “stripper wells” and the negative impact on our ability to replace, let alone grow our production.  The “collateral damage” to Apache nearly eliminated us, which Apache avoided by rapid diversification into a mini conglomerate.


By the time Schweizer’s first documentary appeared, Peter gave me a copy in the lobby of a New York hotel, and sure enough, there it was in the form of an interview of Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, who had calmly confirmed my suspicion, the drop to a low of $8.00 per barrel was part of the “Evil Russian Empire” strategy begun by Reagan, and completed by George H. W. Bush; with Russia becoming the former Soviet Union.


I actually received confirmation while in Singapore en route to Perth, Australia, while the Secretary and I conversed at the Raffles Hotel.  I found him very warm, genial, and attentive to his wife, whose wheelchair he maneuvered absent apparent Secret Service. 


Peter’s 361 page “Throw Them All Out” is directed at the Congress in which he documents his case; the Congress is piling up assets, getting rich and richer at a rapidly growing rate by acting on “insider information” from legislation being enacted, or under consideration visibly enriching its Gung Ho trading members, who seem to have lost awareness that they represent the public, not solely themselves. 


Were the public similarly positioned and enabled to act, the penalties would be charges, sentences, probably ruins.  The book goes into remarkable detail, particularly considering the specifics unreported by the perpetrators. (I recommend the book.)


Several years before Apache moved headquarters from Denver to Houston, I trout fished in Colorado’s Taylor River with a group of friends which for three consecutive years included former President Jimmy Carter.  At that point my project was to get “soft money” out of the election cycle; of Washington representatives, President Jimmy Carter did endeavor to assist, but he also made one telling comment, “The Congress has no capability to reform itself.”


If not the Congress, and in 2012 it’s certainly not the President who’s focus is  “business as usual,” rather than reforming a corrupted system of government.


The answer needs be the grass roots majority who know we have problems including an open door to illegal immigration, same sex marriages, and anti God orientation.  There is one area in which we can make a significant constructive difference for all Americans where more well paying jobs are of critical importance to every American except those who seek the decline and fall of America through corrupted action bringing us multi trillion dollar deficits.


What if tens of thousands of Americans who know enough about the oil and gas industry’s contributions to improving global living standards wrote Congress, including every member of the House of Representatives and Senate either by letter or by fax expressed in their own words the following concepts:


1.    We have enough North American oil and gas to meet our needs for the net 50-100 years.


2.    We have the ability to create 100,000 to 300,000 industry related well-paying jobs, which can radiate out to thousands of small businesses plus among related industry service providers. 


3.    We can improve national security in a troubled world among a million or more small and larger businesses alike. 


4.    We can reduce our national debt by increasing fossil fuel production and research based not on esoteric whim but sound practices adopted and applied.


5.    We can reduce the anger and fear of Americans towards insiders who profit exorbitantly.


As Peter Schweizer puts it, we have become a trickle up society while hesitating to reverse the roles of tormentors in favor of those trying to build up rather than tear down.


Who are we?  We’re workers in the world’s largest industry.  We are several million individuals who receive monthly checks as royalty owners, who know the industry because we lease our land and collect monthly revenues from the oil produced, whose science has advanced while we have been berated and scorned.  Royalty owners know our language well enough to write multiple letters to 435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, and 50 Governors seeking improvement not detriment, to land, water, the air we breath, respecting the environment and its future.


We are Americans with the known capability of making our own small difference on behalf of others.


Best wishes for an active and productive 2012,


Raymond Plank