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Friday, July 10, 2009

Congress gives your money to T. Boone Pickens

This week, the Pickens Plan turns one year old, and so I revisit the lobbying and business jockeying behind it. Specifically, I report on how T. Boone Pickens has invested in natural gas cars, and how he is packaging his push for subsidies as some way to save the world:
Perversely, his recent shift—from selling stuff (such as oil) that people want to buy, to selling stuff (like gas cars and wind power) that people buy only when it’s subsidized or mandated—has elevated Pickens’ reputation from greedy capitalist to world-saver.

Pickens was one of the bad guys in a 1992 book Den of Thieves where he was derided as a “corporate raider” and named by one reviewer as oneof “the main players behind why the 1980’s were characterized as the ‘decade of greed.’ ” The offense back then—in addition to selling oil—was his penchant for “hostile takeovers.”

“Hostile takeovers” is an inaccurate term for what Pickens used to do. The management didn’t like them, sure, but the transactions in question consisted of shareholders voluntarily giving their stock to Pickens in exchange for Pickens’ money.

Pickens’ new bid actually is hostile. I don’t want to fund his windmills or methane cars. But if I refuse, the IRS will come after me. But instead of“greed” it’s dubbed as “green.”
Read the whole thing here.

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