“You know what an economist is, don’t you? An economist is someone who didn’t have the personality to be a CPA.” T. Boone Pickens, clearly known more for his folksy charm than intellectual prowess, took pleasure in poking fun at economists at the World Business Forum last week. Perhaps that explains why The Popped Kernel, in our last two posts, uncharacteristically made no effort to personalize economists Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs.
(Updated below on 11/10/09)
As posted in the comments below, we learned more from and about T. Boone than just his teasing humor.
He quit his job at 26 yrs old with no alternate plan. After complaining about his job, his wife told him to leave it. The day he did, he came home early to his wife asking, "Why are you home so early?" He said, "I quit today." His wife shot back, "Why'd you do that?"
He believes the U.S. should be awarded oil contracts in Iraq, not China (as has been done). His argument is simple: Americans lost over 4,000 lives in Iraq, not China.
He's an environmentalist, albeit not admittedly. While he did acknowledge a friendship with Al Gore rooted in the cause, his driving force is rooted more in national security - to reduce (if not eliminate) America's dependence on oil from hostile regimes. He started the Pickens Plan to influence a fundamental shift in US energy policy - source power from natural gas and renewable energy, not oil. He happens to be heavily invested in natural gas and increasingly in renewable energy.
He believes he's more powerful today than ever before, not because of his wealth but his following (driven primarily online). 1.6 million people have signed onto his Pickens Plan. As he put it, with money he could see anybody in Congress but nothing would happen; with money and 1.6 million supporters he can see anybody on the Hill and now he's a force to be reckoned with. Members of Congress now ask him if he can mobilize his "army."
You may be wondering what the heck that "T" stands for. Well, wonder no more. It stands for... wait for it ... Thomas.
And remember those Swift Boat ads? The ones that "swift boated" the Kerry presidential campaign in 2004 (and augmented the American political vernacular in the process)? T. Boone funded them.
T. Boone Pickens is a complex man. It's difficult to label him, but if anything could describe him, perhaps it's quite simply "self-interested."
What do you think? Are you a fan of T. Boone? The man? The plan? Let us know. Comment below. Or write us at email@example.com.