The Snake Oil Well, Running Dry


Via Instapundit, it seems that T. Boone Pickens is slowing down his plans to save America by getting us to buy wind power from him.

Over the past two days, Boone spoke at events where he said that the wind project is having trouble getting financing because of the credit crunch.

He was also quoted saying that falling prices of natural gas, used in power plants, are making his wind project less economical.

Another possible factor (albeit smaller) is the defeat of California's Proposition 10, a plan to provide rebates that was heavily funded by Pickens because of the potential windfall to his business. reason was critical of that set-up early this year, and Pickens spent a lot of his time dealing with criticism in a conference call I participated in last month. But the biggest problem I had with Pickens' year-long campaign was his populist angle that our purchase of oil from other countries was "the largest wealth transfer in the history of mankind." Steven Milloy put it best.

Contrary to Pickens' demagoguery, "wealth transfer" is a term generally used in the context of estate planning, where money is simply "gifted" to heirs.

Our purchases of foreign oil, in contrast, are more reasonably known as "trade" — and trade is good.

Americans are not simply petro-junkies who mainline crude oil for the masochistic high of watching gas pump numbers spin faster. We produce goods and services with imported oil more than any other people on this planet.

The Pickens TV and PR campaign was one of the most sophisticated I've ever seen: not only did he get Al Gore and the presidential candidates to give him cover, I remember an Ohio voter who said she didn't like McCain or Obama so she'd write in Pickens. (Pickens' gravelly Texas accent was a big help, I think: as Ross Perot could tell you, there's something more politically attractive about a plains tycoon than, say, a Silicon Valley billionaire.) But I'm not weeping that his $57 million campaign isn't getting him what he wanted this year.