It’s been two weeks now since Laurie and I retired from Centurylink Communications. I promised myself that I would take two weeks to just relax. That time is done. Now we need to turn ourselves to the tasks of selling our current home and finding a new home in Deadwood. I’ll admit the whole thing is a bit daunting at times but I seriously doubt most people think through a decision as much as ours to relocate to South Dakota. We have been planning and dreaming about this for easily a decade; now it’s time to make the dreams a reality.
One of my daily rituals is to check the news. I have these nifty little search protocols built into Google News, Yahoo News and the Drudge Report to pull information on anything relating to a variety of topics involving retirement planning. I hate to tell you this but the overall national situation around retirement isn’t improving for most people. Sure, you can find incremental rays of hope every so often but the general mess we dare to call our economy crushes those fairly quickly.
Lets face the facts folks; the dollar you put into savings today is not going to hold the same relative strength by the time you need it. The dollar is weakening. It really shouldn’t be any surprise to anybody; with the country carrying some 17 trillion dollars in debt. Who in their right mind is going to put their confidence in our currency? I also have yet to see any economist, politician, or business leader come up with one reasonable plan to reverse the situation.
Now there are rays of hope here and there. One lesson I’ve learned from a zealous study of history is that the people who flourish in a disaster are the ones who take advantage of the opportunities available to them. To use an old saying, “When all life offers you is lemons, make lemonade”. My philosophy is not to be a victim of circumstances but to adapt to those circumstances and use them to your favor.
Deadwood South Dakota is an interesting little town. If you drive for about four hours going north you run into the Bakken oil range. I’ve become a serious student and fan of this particular geological anomaly.
We live in a world where the cost of energy works in a direction ratio to the economic stability of the same area. Now you can talk about your nifty ‘green’ renewable energy schemes but until I see all those jet planes, railroad trains, semi trucks and cargo ships that provide the infrastructure of our economy operating on solar power or wind generators my bet is still on the internal combustion engine and petroleum.
I was reading an interesting news story yesterday that OPEC is now getting a bit nervous because ISIL is moving into a strategic position to threaten one of their critical pipelines:
( I love the ‘Telegraph’)
So what does this event in the Mideast have to do with Deadwood, South Dakota? What does a rampant failure of our current administration’s excuse for a foreign policy have to do with the price of a cup of coffee in the Black Hills of South Dakota?
Everything, absolutely everything.
Some of you might not be aware of this but OPEC and particularly the country of Saudi Arabia have declared a economic war on the shale oil industry. They have even gone so far as to name the state of North Dakota as a specific threat to them. So since Thanksgiving of last year they have been waging a war to undermine the barrel price of shale oil produced in United States domestic industry.
It’s not working for them. The fact is in a very literal sense they might be losing.
Now it looks like ISIL might even be threatening OPEC production like a razor held to their jugular vein. Meanwhile the Saudi’s are waging an expensive Real War with radical Islamic extremists to their south in Yemen. There is nothing like a war with guided missiles and smart bombs to drain your bank accounts even faster.
Really unfortunate timing for OPEC and the Saudi royal family. Possibly a potential opportunity for the shale oil industry and those drilling companies in North Dakota? You freaking bet it is! The Saudi’s once bragged that their production costs for a barrel of oil were among the lowest in the world. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes if ISIL manages to sever some pipelines, blow up some production facilities or slaughter some poor oil workers.
North Dakota is a very long way from all this chaos.
South Dakota, and Deadwood in particular, are just a relatively short drive from the Bakken oil range.
On one of our last trips to Deadwood, Laurie and I went out to dinner one Friday night at one of the buffets maintained by a local casino. While we sat there I saw a steady stream of men in oil company jackets walk in. Not just a few either. Easily fifty or sixty while we sat there. Most of these oil workers make a starting wage of 100,000 dollars a year. It didn’t take me long to figure out that seeing them in Deadwood was a fairly common event; there isn’t much for entertainment on the oil range.
Further research also showed me at least three oil industry related companies established in the northern Black Hills in the last year; one even has offices in Deadwood!
Deadwood has always been a town borne on the boons of a fluctuating economy; in 1876 it was the ‘Crash of 1873’ and the eventual gold rush, in 2015 it will probably be another economic crash and the availability of ‘Black Gold’ just a drive north.
And I have a plan to take advantage of it….