"Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over.”
Charles Ponzi, 1882-1949
Proprietary Capitalism is our modern, Bizzarro-world term for the relatively-old scheme of con artists separating “fools” from their money. It’s where We the People are not allowed access to the information we need in order to make informed decisions about industries who scheme to profit off of our ignorance, and it’s all the rage now. “Intellectual property rights” was the battle cry when Silicon Valley started cannibalizing its apple orchards and pooping out shiny gizmos, and now you see the shiny poop of intellectual property rights everywhere, on the chemical industry, on the privatized school industry, on the music industry, on everything. Our very culture has been devoured and “privatized” by the bastards in full view of everyone, a daylight heist, and our only questions seem to have been “How much is the next shiny gizmo going to cost and when can I get mine?”
Speaking of digestion: Consider all the high-priced claims of oil patch con artists about how the Bakkan oil patch and its lower intestine, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) are going to poop out endless jobs across the North Dakota plains and downward towards New Orleans and everywhere else the Black Snake slithers. (Eee…eww!) Jobs, right? Dirty jobs, but jobs all the same. Right?
Well…consider the words of a petroleum industry operative who spent almost four decades working for the likes of AMOCO, BP, and other such bastards. Art Berman currently makes a living as an oil industry expert, a consultant and contributor for corporate news outlets on oil trends for the smart investor who desires to place her bets on the table where the money flows downhill, toward her. Easy Street, right? But wait…On March 1st, Berman wrote in Forbes Magazine that:
“All major Bakken producers continue to lose money at current wellhead prices…there may be nowhere for the Bakken to go but down. Higher oil prices may not help much because the best days for the play are behind us. Future profits were sacrificed for short-term objectives that lost the companies and their shareholders money…investors should be worried. As analysts cheered the resilience of shale plays after the 2014 price collapse, nearly a billion barrels of Bakken oil were produced at a loss...vast volumes of oil were squandered at low prices for the sake of cash flow to support unmanageable debt loads and to satisfy investors about production growth.[i]”
Why is this not the news we as well as the low-lying investor should have been hearing since the pipeline was first announced in 2014? After all, wouldn’t Republican governors who would sing the praises of “private property” while simultaneously authorizing “eminent domain” seizures of the very same at least want to know that the whole scheme is based on an economic model that even Charles Ponzi couldn't job to the rich of his day? Why are we hearing instead about all the “jobs” that Ponzi's economic scheme will generate for all us poor folk now?
Silly you. You forgot about “intellectual property rights”, haven’t you?
“The Bakken play represents the fullest application of modern horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies,” Berman writes. But with a couple of downsides.
“There is no way to stay away from water and it is produced from day one in large volumes. The Bakken has produced 1.5 billion barrels of water along with its 2.2 billion barrels of oil over the decades. Where are they putting it and what does that cost?”
Indeed. Where are they putting all that water? And furthermore, what have they put in all that water? Well, intellectual property rights dictate that these Lying Leviathans don’t have to tell you any of that, because the information you need in order to know whether or not you are being poisoned for the sake of someone else's quick buck is…get ready…private property!
Wow, and that’s the root of the other downside that Berman mentions in his article. Think of the underground fracking patch as a giant balloon with finite pressure and lots of holes being drilled into it. At first the additional pressure needed for oil to bubble to the surface is generated with the toxic, proprietary slurry mix. After a while, though, the pressure needed to make the oil bucks bubble out of any single well is generated more and more by the gas pockets that develop underground in relation to the environmentally-destructive fracking activities. From then on, as the patch gets more and more overdrilled (which the Bakkan has been) the pressure drops for all the wells and everybody’s oil money heads south of the Red Line. This is basic physics, and basic capitalism, never mind the environmental costs, which investors never do.
So, in the oil expert’s own words, while the very efficiency of fracking technology has led to the over-drilling and the rapid depletion of the field, “pressure data (of the over-drilled patch) is not publicly available and is needed to complete the case.”
Did you catch that? The evidence for depletion of the Bakkan oil patch, the very information we as a society (and she as an investor) need to determine whether or not the environmental catastrophe of the patch and the associated pipelines is in any way economically justified is proprietary, under the very same rules that has kept the details of the environmental catastrophe itself (the fracking mix, for instance) from us all along. It’s none of your business, the Rich Man tells us. That’s enough democracy for you. We’re running this country now, so run along and eat some cake.
Why is the Dakota Access Pipeline being built at all? Quite simply “…for the sake of cash flow to support unmanageable debt loads and to satisfy investors about production growth.”
It’s not for jobs. It’s not for “energy self-sufficiency”. It’s not even for any traditionally-defined version of free-market capitalism. It’s a Ponzi scheme where the Rich Man and the politicians in his pocket are the only beneficiaries and We The People and the Land are the chumps.
Nice, huh? And that’s not coming from cyber-left field. It’s in black and white, in Forbes, and maybe that’s the beauty of this horrible moment we have willfully visited upon ourselves. Black and white becomes color, at least it becomes the Bizarro comic-book world we should have recognized it as all along.
Let’s get real and get busy, shall we?