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Courtesy of the Washington Post
Published 04/02/2019 | Reading Time 2 min 56 sec
By Nehemiah D. Frank, founder, director, and executive editor
Oklahomans have asked themselves the million-dollar question, or perhaps the billion-dollar question: Why are public schools inadequately funded in Oklahoma when the state boasts natural resources that have created some of the world’s wealthiest people, people like multibillionaire and oil tycoon Harold Hamm?
Hamm is ranked the 28th wealthiest American, according to Forbes magazine.
He is a native Oklahoman and founder of Continental Resources Inc., an American petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company based in Oklahoma City. This company had total assets that peaked at 14 billion dollars in 2017. His total net worth is $18.7 billion, which makes him the 43rd wealthiest human being on the planet.
Harold Hamm’s income is so great that it extends off the chart.
Hamm is a loyalist to the Republican party. He was a spokesman at the 2016 Republican National Convention. The oil tycoon speaks highly of President Donald Trump’s oil and gas policies, claiming if the oil and gas plans are to be fully implemented, it will make President Donald Trump the first president to guarantee America’s “energy independence.”
During this time, President Donald Trump seriously considered Hamm for Energy Secretary.
Although Harold has received honorary degrees from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, coupled with being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, he is hardly the person that Oklahomans should admire or revere because he does not believe in funding education.
The Oklahoma teacher’s funding bill will hit the deep pockets of the oilman when oil and gas taxes rise from 3% to 5% in Oklahoma, which is still relatively lower than most states.
Even as teachers across the Sooner state walk out because of inadequate and reduced education funding, Hamm still thoroughly believes that the new tax hikes are too much for his company.
But what can we expect from a man who only boasts a high school diploma? It can be assumed that Hamm does not value education, nor does he see it as necessary because he became a multibillionaire without graduating from college.
“I started working in the oilfield upon graduating high school. I was on the service end of it, driving tank trucks for Johnny Geer for a couple years and learning about oil and gas production. I had a whole cadre of mentors,” Hamm has boasted before.
Where will the workforce come from if the next generation is ill-educated due to the exodus of Oklahoma teachers exiting our borders for better pay because Harold Hamm, one of the wealthiest men in the world, refuses to pay his fair share of taxes?
Harold Hamm once stated that “Anti-frackers are disingenuous. They bow to the religion of environmentalism.”
Will Harold Hamm and Continental Resources pay for the thousands of homes that have been damaged by the earthquakes that are triggered by his company’s fracking practices?
Hamm has also stated that “It’s harder, but we’re still finding oil in Oklahoma today. The bar has been raised on startup companies, but it can still be done. Every regulation and every rule limits you, but, yes, it can still be done. That’s the beauty of living in a free country and having the freedom to have an idea and become an entrepreneur.”
Hamm is not concerned about paying for Oklahoma teachers nor educating the future employers of the state — students.
“The oil patch pays good. They’re decent jobs paying between 50 and 70 thousand a year. Fracking has a big impact on the oil consumption in the United States.” — Harold Hamm
Surely, Hamm could pay his fracking loving minions more than 50k to 70k annually if he’s 43rd wealthiest human being in the world.
“I’m a professional geologist, an explorationist for oil. That’s what I’ve done in my career, one that’s culminated in – at least to this point – playing a part in finding the largest field in the last 40 years anywhere in the world. That’s the Bakken field, which I believe will yield 24 billion barrels of oil in the decades to come, maybe more,” — Harold Hamm.
Assuming his trajectory remains on its destructive and immoral course, Harold Hamm will continue paying his political friends at the Oklahoma State capital and in Washington to protect his mass earnings all while feeding Oklahoma teachers and their students the leftover drops from big-money oil.
If we want to truly get out of the swamp, Oklahomans are going to have to step it up at the polls.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder, executive editor, and director of The Black Wall Street Times, a digital news media company that believes access is the new civil right. He graduated with a general studies degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and a political science degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was a member and chapter president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. Today, he is a blogger for Education Post, based in Chicago, IL, and a board member for the Tulsa World, Tulsa Press Club, and Tulsa’s Table. He is also a public school educator at a local community-led charter school and is a member of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Education Task Force for Equity and Inclusion. In 2017, Frank became a Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, a 2018 Black Educators Fellow and gave a TED Talk at the University of Tulsa.