Author Topic: The downsides of cheap oil  (Read 7125 times)

Debts_of_Despair

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The downsides of cheap oil
« on: January 31, 2016, 11:53:56 AM »
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-downsides-of-cheap-oil/

Guy was making $1800/day, gets laid off and has pickup truck repo'd.  A story that could be repeated 1000x across the oil and gas industry.


MgoSam

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2016, 02:10:18 PM »
The guy that "lost" his truck is getting it in the comments, as he deserved.

Capsu78

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 02:15:28 PM »
I'm old enough to remember when lower oils prices were considered a good thing.

GrowingTheGreen

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2016, 06:29:11 PM »
There have got to be a few guys out there who saved, didn't have lifestyle inflation, and just killed it. Just imagine what an FI-minded person could've accomplished in a short amount time. I feel like most of the oil jobs where happening when the stock market was much lower.

It's a shame that it's so hard for so many to save.

randymarsh

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2016, 06:49:24 PM »
I remember reading an NPR story just a year or two ago talking about a low populated town in North Dakota that was exploding in growth. Schools were filled to the brim, there was talk about building new ones, etc.

Easy come easy go. I don't believe for a second that this dude didn't live lavishly. There's no other explanation for losing the truck.

nobodyspecial

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2016, 07:46:21 PM »
At least he only blew $40K on a truck, not $100M on a sports center for all those oil workers like the town did.

obstinate

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2016, 10:08:28 PM »
Low oil prices are a very good thing in a certain sense. IF there was no anthropogenic global warming, it would be much better if oil cost 1c than $100 bbl. Even if a few people in the industry could not make money from it, the benefits in terms of being able to get places on the cheap would far outweigh that. This would CLEARLY be a better state of affairs. If you disagree, let me ask you whether it bothers you that you get your oxygen for free.

The real problem with cheap oil is the climate change problem. If we had a functioning government that taxed negative externalities, this wouldn't be a problem, but regrettably, we don't, and it is.

Le Poisson

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2016, 05:43:07 AM »
I have often wondered why we gripe about the cost of gasoline at the pump, but not milk at the dairy counter. Around here anyone, the two are about the same.

My mind is also boggled at the number of items made of oil that we rarely consider. Everything from vaseline to pantyhose. I tyend to think of oil only as it impacts me as a driver, and miss so many other uses that feed the economy.


zephyr911

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2016, 06:37:34 AM »
The real problem with cheap oil is the climate change problem. If we had a functioning government that taxed negative externalities, this wouldn't be a problem, but regrettably, we don't, and it is.
It's not just that, it's also our failure to account for the economic impacts of an eventual return to supply scarcity.
We have an extremely artificial glut right now, driven by multiple factors that will last for a blink of an eye in historical terms. And shortsighted decisions made based on this anomaly will unfortunately extend past the chumps who buy Suburbans and Chargers and cry about the next round of $4 gas.
I'm no advocate for a command economy, but it's a shame we aren't using the advantages created by cheap oil to build some resiliency into our economy for the next time. We just party like drunk kids when it's cheap and cry when it's expensive, rinse and repeat.

golden1

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2016, 06:55:19 AM »
I remember seeing articles a few years ago about these boom towns up in North Dakota.  They sounded like miserable places with grueling hours and lot of unsafe working conditions, but I remember thinking that 1) it seemed unwise to build an economy on one resource, and 2) it would be a great place for a young single guy to go to make some quick money to stash away.  Unfortunately it seemed a lot of the guys didn't do that - they just set up lifestyles based on the idea that they would be making 100K+ for the rest of their lives. 

Jack

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2016, 06:57:28 AM »
I have often wondered why we gripe about the cost of gasoline at the pump, but not milk at the dairy counter. Around here anyone, the two are about the same.

For the average consumer sucka, gasoline feels like a "need" but milk is a choice. In reality, they're both substitutable -- milk for soda (or water if you're not an idiot) and driving for transit, biking or walking -- but normal people don't see it that way.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2016, 07:40:00 AM »
And then you have people like Sean Hannity using his program to convince everyone this is a gold mine and everyone should drop everything and go get a job there.

StarBright

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2016, 07:56:40 AM »
The real problem with cheap oil is the climate change problem. If we had a functioning government that taxed negative externalities, this wouldn't be a problem, but regrettably, we don't, and it is.
It's not just that, it's also our failure to account for the economic impacts of an eventual return to supply scarcity.
We have an extremely artificial glut right now, driven by multiple factors that will last for a blink of an eye in historical terms. And shortsighted decisions made based on this anomaly will unfortunately extend past the chumps who buy Suburbans and Chargers and cry about the next round of $4 gas.
I'm no advocate for a command economy, but it's a shame we aren't using the advantages created by cheap oil to build some resiliency into our economy for the next time. We just party like drunk kids when it's cheap and cry when it's expensive, rinse and repeat.

Yes! I actually paid 1.35/gal for gas last week but the roads where I live are in horrible condition because there is "no money" to fix them. I was saying to my husband that it would be great if we could set some sort of hard floor for gas costs ($2/gal?), anytime the actual prices dips below that the extra money could go to some fund for road repair, or alternative energy development/rebates, bucking up public transportation etc. If the gas stations balked maybe they could get 10% of the extra while the rest went into the fund or something like that.

Chris22

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2016, 08:14:05 AM »
I work in a related O&G company, and we've let lots of good people go as a result of the slump, and these were not sudden thousandaires who ran out and bought lifted bro-dozers, these are highly educated engineers and PhDs who are doing the research on how to maximize yields and build cleaner-burning fuels.  I know a lot of the tree huggers on the board want to villify anyone in O&G, but the fact is our lives depend upon it, and as pointed out, not just for driving, for the supply chain, for all types of products (including things like pharmaceuticals), etc. 

zephyr911

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2016, 08:24:13 AM »
I work in a related O&G company, and we've let lots of good people go as a result of the slump, and these were not sudden thousandaires who ran out and bought lifted bro-dozers, these are highly educated engineers and PhDs who are doing the research on how to maximize yields and build cleaner-burning fuels.  I know a lot of the tree huggers on the board want to villify anyone in O&G, but the fact is our lives depend upon it, and as pointed out, not just for driving, for the supply chain, for all types of products (including things like pharmaceuticals), etc.
I don't wanna vilify the workers, but the shot-callers at the top do some objectively awful things. Either way, I agree that hating the people is missing the point.

I'm with Elon Musk on the subject of oil... I don't think it's a bad thing, I think it's priceless, and we are absolute idiots for not valuing it more highly. There are any number of uses where it's valuable enough that just setting it on fire is the height of abject stupidity.

However, in terms of employment, I do have to say this... if oil as a resource were managed in an intelligent fashion, taking a truly long view, the industry would be much smaller.

Chris22

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2016, 08:26:19 AM »
I work in a related O&G company, and we've let lots of good people go as a result of the slump, and these were not sudden thousandaires who ran out and bought lifted bro-dozers, these are highly educated engineers and PhDs who are doing the research on how to maximize yields and build cleaner-burning fuels.  I know a lot of the tree huggers on the board want to villify anyone in O&G, but the fact is our lives depend upon it, and as pointed out, not just for driving, for the supply chain, for all types of products (including things like pharmaceuticals), etc.
I don't wanna vilify the workers, but the shot-callers at the top do some objectively awful things.

Generally speaking, the real shot-callers are all heads of state.  Even the CEOs of BP, XOM, etc, are at their whims.

MgoSam

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2016, 09:33:30 AM »
I know a lot of the tree huggers on the board want to villify anyone in O&G, but the fact is our lives depend upon it

Low self-esteem? I doubt anyone would have taken shots at you for working in O&G. Do you feel any guilt?

zephyr911

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2016, 09:43:46 AM »
Generally speaking, the real shot-callers are all heads of state.  Even the CEOs of BP, XOM, etc, are at their whims.
In many cases private co's are in a position to push heads of state around, or at least legislators. But the point stands regardless of where the buck stops. I think you get my intent.

lkc4863

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2016, 09:46:37 AM »
At least he only blew $40K on a truck, not $100M on a sports center for all those oil workers like the town did.

I graduated college in 2013, right in the middle of this boom, and afterwards I lived in Williston for 8 months (restaurant management, I earned $45k/yr, not a crazy oil salary). This was the town's third oil boom, and the city's leaders were actually pretty smart about it, understanding that it was temporary and they needed to do what they could to take advantage of it. IIRC, that rec center was completely paid for before it even opened, and in a town where temperatures are below freezing for 8 months of the year, and below 0 most of the winter, it's a huge draw.

During the boom, most men would come out and work for a couple weeks and then go home to their families for the week off, which meant the town was booming in youngish men, but didn't have the families moving in that would actually stabilize its growth. The ARC went a long way toward giving kids something to do in a town where you really can't spend much time outside during most of the year, and my understanding is that it's been fairly successful in that.

pdean

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2016, 10:16:29 AM »
Low oil prices are a very good thing in a certain sense. IF there was no anthropogenic global warming, it would be much better if oil cost 1c than $100 bbl. Even if a few people in the industry could not make money from it, the benefits in terms of being able to get places on the cheap would far outweigh that. This would CLEARLY be a better state of affairs. If you disagree, let me ask you whether it bothers you that you get your oxygen for free.

The real problem with cheap oil is the climate change problem. If we had a functioning government that taxed negative externalities, this wouldn't be a problem, but regrettably, we don't, and it is.

On one hand, I think cheap oil is bad even disregarding climate change, as it encourages commuting, sprawl, driving over walking, all those anti-Mustachian things.

I wonder, though, whether thanks to Teslas, Leafs, etc. we won't just replace gas autos with a 'greener' option and keep doing all these things even at the risk of cohesive families, communities, and individual happiness.

I'm far from convinced about it - just my thoughts.

zephyr911

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2016, 10:32:46 AM »
On one hand, I think cheap oil is bad even disregarding climate change, as it encourages commuting, sprawl, driving over walking, all those anti-Mustachian things.

I wonder, though, whether thanks to Teslas, Leafs, etc. we won't just replace gas autos with a 'greener' option and keep doing all these things even at the risk of cohesive families, communities, and individual happiness.

I'm far from convinced about it - just my thoughts.
I do think EVs are a step forward on the whole, but you're absolutely right - even if you establish that it's unequivocally an improvement, it's an improvement to one small facet of things.

Our economy does a lot of things to fracture families, and our technology can unite or divide us with equal ease. Only the greatest visionaries these days even manage to address two or three big issues.

Chris22

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2016, 10:34:22 AM »
I know a lot of the tree huggers on the board want to villify anyone in O&G, but the fact is our lives depend upon it

Low self-esteem?

If I have a fault, it's the opposite of that ;)

Quote
I doubt anyone would have taken shots at you for working in O&G. Do you feel any guilt?

None whatsoever. 

Travis

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2016, 10:41:50 AM »
The real problem with cheap oil is the climate change problem. If we had a functioning government that taxed negative externalities, this wouldn't be a problem, but regrettably, we don't, and it is.
It's not just that, it's also our failure to account for the economic impacts of an eventual return to supply scarcity.
We have an extremely artificial glut right now, driven by multiple factors that will last for a blink of an eye in historical terms. And shortsighted decisions made based on this anomaly will unfortunately extend past the chumps who buy Suburbans and Chargers and cry about the next round of $4 gas.
I'm no advocate for a command economy, but it's a shame we aren't using the advantages created by cheap oil to build some resiliency into our economy for the next time. We just party like drunk kids when it's cheap and cry when it's expensive, rinse and repeat.

Yes! I actually paid 1.35/gal for gas last week but the roads where I live are in horrible condition because there is "no money" to fix them. I was saying to my husband that it would be great if we could set some sort of hard floor for gas costs ($2/gal?), anytime the actual prices dips below that the extra money could go to some fund for road repair, or alternative energy development/rebates, bucking up public transportation etc. If the gas stations balked maybe they could get 10% of the extra while the rest went into the fund or something like that.

I trend towards this on most of our tax systems.  If we say "tax A is meant to pay specifically for expense B," then we should be funding it in full.  What we actually do is "we'll fund it in full this year, and let inflation eat away at it for the next 30 years because voting for tax increases is political suicide."  Congress makes up for some of that deficit in highway maintenance by appropriating general funds, but even then it's a compromise that doesn't pay for everything.  It also hides the actual costs of the program and spreads the cost around to people who don't even drive.  If people saw that honest and complete highway maintenance cost an extra $.50/gallon (or whatever the true number is) they might be more vocal about fuel sippers and other alternatives.

Arktinkerer

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2016, 10:51:41 AM »
The real problem with cheap oil is the climate change problem. If we had a functioning government that taxed negative externalities, this wouldn't be a problem, but regrettably, we don't, and it is.
It's not just that, it's also our failure to account for the economic impacts of an eventual return to supply scarcity.
We have an extremely artificial glut right now, driven by multiple factors that will last for a blink of an eye in historical terms. And shortsighted decisions made based on this anomaly will unfortunately extend past the chumps who buy Suburbans and Chargers and cry about the next round of $4 gas.
I'm no advocate for a command economy, but it's a shame we aren't using the advantages created by cheap oil to build some resiliency into our economy for the next time. We just party like drunk kids when it's cheap and cry when it's expensive, rinse and repeat.

Yes! I actually paid 1.35/gal for gas last week but the roads where I live are in horrible condition because there is "no money" to fix them. I was saying to my husband that it would be great if we could set some sort of hard floor for gas costs ($2/gal?), anytime the actual prices dips below that the extra money could go to some fund for road repair, or alternative energy development/rebates, bucking up public transportation etc. If the gas stations balked maybe they could get 10% of the extra while the rest went into the fund or something like that.

I trend towards this on most of our tax systems.  If we say "tax A is meant to pay specifically for expense B," then we should be funding it in full.  What we actually do is "we'll fund it in full this year, and let inflation eat away at it for the next 30 years because voting for tax increases is political suicide."  Congress makes up for some of that deficit in highway maintenance by appropriating general funds, but even then it's a compromise that doesn't pay for everything.  It also hides the actual costs of the program and spreads the cost around to people who don't even drive.  If people saw that honest and complete highway maintenance cost an extra $.50/gallon (or whatever the true number is) they might be more vocal about fuel sippers and other alternatives.

I agree most government costs should tied as close to the expenditure as possible.  Using car registration fees or gas taxes to pay for schools for example create a real disconnect.  The idea of setting a floor to the gas price is pretty much a loser from the get-go.  Why would the seller ever go below $2 if the state was going to just take the money?  It either goes to his pocket or the state's.

nobodyspecial

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2016, 11:59:25 AM »
In Vancouver we pay 30% tax on gas and an extra transit tax to fund public transport.
Except it is now going to fund a $25M overspend on a new $200M electronic transit ticketing system

gimp

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2016, 12:37:45 PM »
When oil in ND was booming, I definitely considered going there to make some cash after a nasty breakup. (Un?)fortunately, my desk job pays too well to make that terribly appealing.

But yeah, someone smart, willing to put up with loneliness (not many girls around, eh) earning like $200k a year, would have had a good time for the past four-ish years, and woulda got the fuck outta dodge.

MgoSam

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2016, 01:10:19 PM »

But yeah, someone smart, willing to put up with loneliness (not many girls around, eh) earning like $200k a year, would have had a good time for the past four-ish years, and woulda got the fuck outta dodge.

I know a few people that did that. At least one guy had little to lose as he wasn't going anywhere romantically or career-wise. I haven't kept in touch with any of them so I don't know how they did, but yeah I imagine there has to be some workers that were smart and saved up their money and now are retired, or have the options that only the financially secure have.

kiwidollabill

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2016, 01:51:27 PM »
Check this... wonder how he is doing now?

http://www.vice.com/video/bros-of-fracking-815

Kat57

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2016, 01:52:16 PM »
I have two different oil patch perspectives.

One of my friends headed to the Bakken to drive truck with a promise of great salary and travel reimbursement. He lived in a house with a bunch of other employees and worked long hours. The reimbursement, as well as the promised salary was an illusion.  He discovered that he had been duped about 4 months into the advemture so he packed up and drove the 14 hours back home.

Another friend has a generations held cattle ranch in Texas. Used to be poor before oil.  Then all of the siblings began dividing the money from 8 wells.  Were are talking extreme spending here, one sibling noted that hs wifes closet has boxes and boxes of dresses that cost 20k+.  After years and years of ridiculous spending, there is some pain happening with the oil slump.  I was told that many in desperation are selling their oil leases to chinese speculators who have arrived on scene like sharks drawn to blood in the water.

9-Volt

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2016, 10:04:39 AM »
In Vancouver we pay 30% tax on gas and an extra transit tax to fund public transport.
Except it is now going to fund a $25M overspend on a new $200M electronic transit ticketing system

And a 3 BILLION $$ un-needed bridge.

protostache

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2016, 10:28:36 AM »
It's not just that, it's also our failure to account for the economic impacts of an eventual return to supply scarcity.
We have an extremely artificial glut right now, driven by multiple factors that will last for a blink of an eye in historical terms. And shortsighted decisions made based on this anomaly will unfortunately extend past the chumps who buy Suburbans and Chargers and cry about the next round of $4 gas.
I'm no advocate for a command economy, but it's a shame we aren't using the advantages created by cheap oil to build some resiliency into our economy for the next time. We just party like drunk kids when it's cheap and cry when it's expensive, rinse and repeat.

This is why I'm bulking up on the supermajors.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2016, 10:49:30 AM »
At least he only blew $40K on a truck, not $100M on a sports center for all those oil workers like the town did.

I graduated college in 2013, right in the middle of this boom, and afterwards I lived in Williston for 8 months (restaurant management, I earned $45k/yr, not a crazy oil salary). This was the town's third oil boom, and the city's leaders were actually pretty smart about it, understanding that it was temporary and they needed to do what they could to take advantage of it. IIRC, that rec center was completely paid for before it even opened, and in a town where temperatures are below freezing for 8 months of the year, and below 0 most of the winter, it's a huge draw.

During the boom, most men would come out and work for a couple weeks and then go home to their families for the week off, which meant the town was booming in youngish men, but didn't have the families moving in that would actually stabilize its growth. The ARC went a long way toward giving kids something to do in a town where you really can't spend much time outside during most of the year, and my understanding is that it's been fairly successful in that.

It's a kind of social infrastructure that will benefit the town in the very long term, and by that I mean decades. Other booms will come and go, but having something to do in the evenings and on the weekends goes a long way to preventing the kind of substance abuse "party" culture that seeps into small towns otherwise, especially in places where there's not a lot of sunlight part of the year and people are prone to depression.

A good quality sports and rec facility can create income. Although it might operate at a bit of a loss from the town's perspective due to the need to pay people to maintain it, it can also draw in revenue to offset its operating costs by hosting sports tournaments that benefit other businesses in the community. Williston isn't on its own little planet drifting through outer space. It's surrounded by a bunch of other small towns where there are people who have always lived and raised their children there. There are also businesses that were present before the boom, and that grew during the boom, that can be helped by anything that draws people into town, however temporarily. A figure skating contest or hockey or racquetball tournament big enough to bring people in from other towns will attract people who need to have a meal or to stay overnight, or who realize they left something important at home. That benefits local motels, restaurants, and grocery stores.

Le Poisson

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2016, 11:08:54 AM »
At least he only blew $40K on a truck, not $100M on a sports center for all those oil workers like the town did.

I graduated college in 2013, right in the middle of this boom, and afterwards I lived in Williston for 8 months (restaurant management, I earned $45k/yr, not a crazy oil salary). This was the town's third oil boom, and the city's leaders were actually pretty smart about it, understanding that it was temporary and they needed to do what they could to take advantage of it. IIRC, that rec center was completely paid for before it even opened, and in a town where temperatures are below freezing for 8 months of the year, and below 0 most of the winter, it's a huge draw.

During the boom, most men would come out and work for a couple weeks and then go home to their families for the week off, which meant the town was booming in youngish men, but didn't have the families moving in that would actually stabilize its growth. The ARC went a long way toward giving kids something to do in a town where you really can't spend much time outside during most of the year, and my understanding is that it's been fairly successful in that.

It's a kind of social infrastructure that will benefit the town in the very long term, and by that I mean decades. Other booms will come and go, but having something to do in the evenings and on the weekends goes a long way to preventing the kind of substance abuse "party" culture that seeps into small towns otherwise, especially in places where there's not a lot of sunlight part of the year and people are prone to depression.

A good quality sports and rec facility can create income. Although it might operate at a bit of a loss from the town's perspective due to the need to pay people to maintain it, it can also draw in revenue to offset its operating costs by hosting sports tournaments that benefit other businesses in the community. Williston isn't on its own little planet drifting through outer space. It's surrounded by a bunch of other small towns where there are people who have always lived and raised their children there. There are also businesses that were present before the boom, and that grew during the boom, that can be helped by anything that draws people into town, however temporarily. A figure skating contest or hockey or racquetball tournament big enough to bring people in from other towns will attract people who need to have a meal or to stay overnight, or who realize they left something important at home. That benefits local motels, restaurants, and grocery stores.

In Canada anyways, there was a time when every crossroads town had a Public skating rink, a half dozen outdoor rinks, and a curling club.

Back when I was a kid, the rinks were built by the Rotary club or Optimists clubs, or just communities coming together. Then folks got less and less involved in their communities, and the upkeep transitioned from the service clubs to the town. The towns took on liability, and today more and more of those rinks are being torn down, and the outdoor rinks aren't being built.

The people still look for something fun to do, so the Towns have now inherited the problem, and are building very large, very expensive rec centres to address the need. I don't think that is a bad thing, but it makes part of me sad to see that we've lost the "git' er done" mindset and the community spirit that it took to build all those rinks back in the day.

I'm happy for your community building a new community centre. Its too bad that that they are coming under scrutiny from the very folks who ought to have put up dollars, sweat, or hours to make the project happen.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #33 on: February 02, 2016, 11:21:05 AM »
At least he only blew $40K on a truck, not $100M on a sports center for all those oil workers like the town did.

I graduated college in 2013, right in the middle of this boom, and afterwards I lived in Williston for 8 months (restaurant management, I earned $45k/yr, not a crazy oil salary). This was the town's third oil boom, and the city's leaders were actually pretty smart about it, understanding that it was temporary and they needed to do what they could to take advantage of it. IIRC, that rec center was completely paid for before it even opened, and in a town where temperatures are below freezing for 8 months of the year, and below 0 most of the winter, it's a huge draw.

During the boom, most men would come out and work for a couple weeks and then go home to their families for the week off, which meant the town was booming in youngish men, but didn't have the families moving in that would actually stabilize its growth. The ARC went a long way toward giving kids something to do in a town where you really can't spend much time outside during most of the year, and my understanding is that it's been fairly successful in that.

It's a kind of social infrastructure that will benefit the town in the very long term, and by that I mean decades. Other booms will come and go, but having something to do in the evenings and on the weekends goes a long way to preventing the kind of substance abuse "party" culture that seeps into small towns otherwise, especially in places where there's not a lot of sunlight part of the year and people are prone to depression.

A good quality sports and rec facility can create income. Although it might operate at a bit of a loss from the town's perspective due to the need to pay people to maintain it, it can also draw in revenue to offset its operating costs by hosting sports tournaments that benefit other businesses in the community. Williston isn't on its own little planet drifting through outer space. It's surrounded by a bunch of other small towns where there are people who have always lived and raised their children there. There are also businesses that were present before the boom, and that grew during the boom, that can be helped by anything that draws people into town, however temporarily. A figure skating contest or hockey or racquetball tournament big enough to bring people in from other towns will attract people who need to have a meal or to stay overnight, or who realize they left something important at home. That benefits local motels, restaurants, and grocery stores.

In Canada anyways, there was a time when every crossroads town had a Public skating rink, a half dozen outdoor rinks, and a curling club.

Back when I was a kid, the rinks were built by the Rotary club or Optimists clubs, or just communities coming together. Then folks got less and less involved in their communities, and the upkeep transitioned from the service clubs to the town. The towns took on liability, and today more and more of those rinks are being torn down, and the outdoor rinks aren't being built.

The people still look for something fun to do, so the Towns have now inherited the problem, and are building very large, very expensive rec centres to address the need. I don't think that is a bad thing, but it makes part of me sad to see that we've lost the "git' er done" mindset and the community spirit that it took to build all those rinks back in the day.

I'm happy for your community building a new community centre. Its too bad that that they are coming under scrutiny from the very folks who ought to have put up dollars, sweat, or hours to make the project happen.

Oh, it's not my community. It's just that I recognize the dynamics because my parents both grew up in small towns that had wildly different approaches to entertainment. Definitely I preferred the rural Canadian approach (my mother's hometown in Alberta, which used the approach you described) to the rural Texan approach I saw in my dad's town, which boiled down to "do absolutely nothing".

I agree with you on the Optimists Club and the community approach to building community centers. In fact I remember helping to raise money to build one in my city. These days there's not as much in terms of grassroots initiative: people want and expect government officials to do things for them using tax dollars, yet they're also reluctant to allocate tax dollars to things that don't benefit them personally. The community approach is limited to people who see some kind of personal or community benefit. However, unlike a government approach, the community approach will generally get something done albeit on a small scale.

nobodyspecial

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #34 on: February 02, 2016, 11:22:51 AM »
I don't know if that was even the specific town in the podcast , it was the only "small town in ND builds big sportcenter" I could find.

My own experience of my rust belt small town is that they get some government money to build something like this to "regenerate the community" but it only covers part of the cost or there are innevitable cost over runs as more fancy features are added.
Then when it opens the city can't afford to run it so put up prices, so that nobody can afford it. Then it's empty, so they introduce discounts for unemployed/pensioners/schools but nobody else can afford it.

So then they gradually close all the expensive stuff that the old people aren't using, the climbing wall, the the wave/diving pool, the gym machines.
And they end up having spent $100M on a giant 90% mothballed facility with a few pensioners doing water aerobics or walking slowly around the olympic class indoor track - and a school using it once a week for 5-side football.


gimp

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Re: The downsides of cheap oil
« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2016, 01:27:47 PM »
Bloody hell. What happened to simple pleasures? In Canada, an outdoor ice rink in the summer is... well, a pond, and maybe someone to resurface it if it gets weird. Or an out of the way parking lot and some hoses, and someone to resurface it once in a while.

In the US, pick any open field, play pickup football, cook meat, drink beer. Make the kids race each other. Toss a frisbee, throw water balloons, whatever, shit's cheap yo.