Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp
Vol. 2012 No. 3

From Thursday, April 26th, 2012 through Sunday, April 29th, 250 persons whose lives have been important to and in my own, were present in Ucross, Wyoming for a combined celebration of three events.  First, the release and book signing of my newly published memoir "A Small Difference."  Second, we of the Ucross Foundation recognized Arbor Day, of particular import because land stewardship is a highly significant component of that for which we stand, and where 20,000 plus acres comprise a campus in which artists in residence (over 1,600 of them in thirty-one years) have found the means to realize a larger measure of their own human capacity than might otherwise be the reality.  Third, my 90th birthday which we celebrated a month in advance of the date of May 29th, as was my 80th, the date at which Steve Farris was elevated by the board to become Apache's Chief Executive Officer.

Most of my family (three generations of it) was present.  Approximately 270 persons attended which is ten plus times the population of Ucross, as depicted on the road sign (Pop. 25).  How many countries and states were represented?  I know not.  But care and talent were assured.  We gathered in the nearby and newly completed Raymond Plank Library and Center for Land Stewardship, a masterpiece of my eldest son, Mike Plank, reflecting the artisanship of many who contributed of their craftsmanship and talent to present the epitome of their artful workmanship.  Another work in progress, the Park at Ucross, will be dedicated later in 2012.

Switching gears, I am much concerned for the future of America.  Frankly, it would have been inappropriate for me to conduct a socio-political rant at this event.  Instead, copies of this "Windows" were available on site.


By no means was I an enthusiastic supporter of Senator John McCain of Arizona.  Personally, I felt that Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin brought color into an otherwise rather bleak candidacy.  I voted for Senator McCain not because of his Viet Nam war record, which added a basis for modest respect and pride, but appreciating from a personal perspective that which Sarah Palin brought to the ticket.

While I was pleased to see a black man run for the presidency, the staged political rallies and the cry "Yes We Can" which showed off candidate Obama's personality left me wondering, "yes we can - do what?"  After considerable soul searching and very close media scrutiny I could not vote for the Democratic ticket of Obama and Biden whose reputation left too much baggage in the form of a series of negatives where he won notoriety and we, Americans, lost.

Yet when Barack Hussein Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and then became the U.S. President, I felt the same pride in America and for growing racial tolerance which had advanced to the point of being able to elect Obama as I felt pride for Jesse Owens, who shattered Hitler's Aryan dream in the 1936 Olympics, pride for Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball, pride for the elderly pitcher Satchel Paige, who became one of baseball's greats in his fifties, if I recall the age correctly, and pride for Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, who became a national hero when he sunk the basket that won the NBA Championship from an impossible distance and went on to become the first black American to earn over $100 million per year in endorsements and salary.  And what about Bill Cosby in entertainment, whose son was mysteriously killed in a  tragic automobile accident which Cosby overcame to continue entertaining us to the present time.

Or in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong generated great jazz and Americans, myself included, both loved his music and were proud that he had scaled the wall of impediments and made it to big time.  They were all constructive models for all youth to strive and succeed.

As President Obama took the helm, strikers against Wal-Mart mounted a march in Washington D.C.  The President encouraged the strikers to pursue unionization - a blatant attempt to access 2.1 million employees of the largest private sector company in the states perhaps hoping to topple it the same way unions bankrupted Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  The President came out in favor of Puerto Rico becoming a state even as he blasted South Carolina for creating a favorable private sector work environment.  Obviously the Executive Branch of government was not considering the impact on what would transpire either in the U.S. or global economy were South Carolina castrated.  He also wanted to open the borders across California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to illegal immigrants in his quest for further political power and further ruin of the purchasing power of the American dollar.

Then we have the health care bill which I read over a few sleepless nights all eleven hundred pages; among the not so charming provisions unrelated to healthcare was that in which companies would be required to file a tax form for every customer who purchased $600 or more of merchandise at retail stores around the country.  The records would be book kept by the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.); where it was assumed they would be required to hire an added sixty thousand government employees, who would presumably collect enough additional taxes to offset the added administration costs.

Suffice it to say that on April 24th I spoke with a close friend in Boston and wondered if the president, on top of being over his head, were an anarchist.  His response, "Funny you should ask.  At a luncheon today the conclusion was that President Obama was both an anarchist and a socialist."  While in Massachusetts Mitt Romney was an excellent governor and I'm doing all I can to assist him and spare America of another four years of Obama.

In energy the President's true colors really show up.  He threw a shoe when he condemned a pipeline to accommodate the flow of oil from North Dakota south toward the refineries and chemical plants.  When the British Petroleum well exploded and caught fire in the G.O.M. the President's response was instant; he curtailed and curbed activity, and developed new restrictions, the result of which is activity in the Gulf a year later remains 50% of what it was previously.

The "evil oil companies" are responsible for $4.00/gallon gasoline prices while in fact he is responsible and doing his best to mislead the public to believe the U.S. does not have adequate reserves to accommodate our oil requirements for decades to come.

The President used his sovereign power to blast and delay if not scrap the logical flow of pipeline oil to the gulf area refineries and chemical plants.  Pipelines crisscross the U.S. to the extent of 50,000 miles, and are of course far more efficient than hauling oil in one of Warren Buffett's train cars or trucks on the highway of North Dakota where that states' major oil resources are now under development.  Obama might take a thirty-minute course from someone who understands that he could be adding hundreds of thousands of jobs and eliminating our oil import bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.

John Gulla, Chairman of our Fund for Teachers' home grown teacher initiative, pointed out to me that the Governor of N.D., who has reduced state income taxes, attended Blake School and graduated from Yale University, as did I.    So I've spoken twice with the governor, who believes that all North Dakotans should pay some income tax while reducing real estate and personal taxes as the states' growing reserves are the poster child of energy industry states, now producing more oil than any other state except Texas.  As the play may cover hundreds of thousands of acres in N.D. and has spread across the border to Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, why not create high-paying jobs in the U.S., versus Canada and soon Europe and the Far East?

Margaret Thatcher, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in New York City at a lecture sponsored by a major bank noted, "socialism and communism always fail when government runs out of other people's money."  It is too bad this administration chooses not to work with, rather than against, the creative industry not only in energy but small and large businesses alike.

The Iron Lady herself was able to privatize more of the British economy when the British North Sea was producing over four million barrels of oil daily.  Presently Brits, despite remaining outside the European common market (while Ireland joined it and American pharmaceutical companies moved there in droves), is floundering, even as the U.S. is declining to utilize coal, nuclear, and oil reserves for energy in favor of green energy subsidized by our taxpayers with grants for sales and subsidized wind power.  This week Obama opined on T.V. the U.S. has 2% of the world's oil and gas reserves and uses 20% of the non-renewable resources, at best misleading to the public.  Even as the North Sea pulled the Brits chestnuts out of the fire, several hundred thousand to a million high-paying jobs in the private sector could be provided beginning currently with expanded efforts to laterally drill and hydraulically fracture tight shale formations thousands of feet below potable water zones with due environmental safeguards.

Apparently the promulgation of highly subsidized alternative energies is preferable in the public sector of our politically-driven class warfare economy.

Spare us rampant inflation.  Have you ever seen runaway inflation at work?  In Argentina, I stood in a line with over one hundred people with a guide from Frontier Travel Services who had just received her compensation from her employer.  As she stood there in her battered coat in the Argentina winter, the inflation rate had reached over 500% per year.  She wanted to exchange Argentina funds into German Deutsche Marks, and the market inflation was decreasing the value of her funds while we stood together.  Five hundred percent inflation meant that her purchasing power was declining at the rate of 80% per year.  Let me make this clear, if you have 1,000% inflation/year (which is not uncommon in history) and you begin the year with $100 by the end of that year you will have $10 of purchasing power.  

After her money was changed we took her into a clothing store and bought her a befitting heavy coat for around $100.  Our payoff was immediate.  The following day my son Mike and I were to go dove shooting north of Buenos Aires.  We came down with salmonella poisoning and she watched over us like an angel until we caught a commercial flight back to the states.  Full recovery was weeks away.  In Buenos Aires, the chicken we had eaten was referred to as a Chernobyl chicken, after the Russian loss of a nuclear plant and attendant Russian disaster. The World Bank plowed money into Argentina; one might hope we do not continue the political policies that led to these conditions in Argentina and that Americans might say "genug ist genug;" enough is enough.  

Let's close on a lighter note.  My last Minnesota executive assistant is married to a former North Dakota farmer whose elderly father had proclaimed several years ago, "If I were hunting assholes, I'd like to use (former U.S. V.P.) Al Gore as a decoy."

It's easy to think of a whole sack of decoys while "genug ist genug."