Christian Schools - 1st Amendment - Economics - RR161A2

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Christian Schools, 1st Amendment, Economics
Course: Course - From the Easy Chair
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 2
Length: 1:00:02
TapeCode: RR161A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
From the Easy Chair.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, RR161A2, Christian Schools, 1st Amendment, Economics

from the Easy Chair, excellent colloquies on various subjects.

[Rushdoony] This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 33, December 9, 1982.

The night before last, quite late, close to midnight, I returned from another trial in a state some distance from us and I will tell you more about that trial in a minute or two, but before I do I would like to describe a little incident that took place in the airport.

I was in the Dallas airport and I had just called home to let Dorothy know that my flight was delayed and it would be quite late when I returned home. I went over to check to see if there had been a further delay and very shortly there was another half hour’s wait required. And there were two deputies standing there, one with a helmet and another without a helmet and a girl with a cassette player in her hand and fur coat on walked up and told the one deputy, the one without the helmet that she was there with a singing strip-o-gram, I believe she called it. And the she proceeded to start the music and to sing and to go into a strip tease. And everybody round about, of course, was startled and dismayed somewhat by the whole thing. They couldn’t believe it. That is what I heard people say.

Well, she got down to the basics and then quit. I think she kissed the deputy or something and whispered something in his ear and handed him the message and ran off laughing.

The thing that came home to me very clearly was not the nudity aspect that was involved, because that wasn’t any more than you see in many instances, but it was the vulgarity.

Now that is an aspect that nobody is confronting. We do have pastor Wildman in Mississippi and his crusade against violence and immorality on television. But I think the grossest aspect of television now is that it is plain embarrassing to watch a good deal of the time, because what goes on. It is so vulgar and stupid. [00:03:16]

Now I believe man is created in the image of God

Now I believe man is created in the image of God. And when people act more stupidly than a jackass is supposed to, I am embarrassed for them even if they aren’t embarrassed. And I can’t watch a good deal of TV, not because of the sex and violence—and that is bad enough very often—but simply because it is so vulgar, just plain stupid, painful to watch.

And I very often wonder if a lot of the script writers are not actually pot heads or something because you wonder how such stupid plots can be concocted.

Well, to get back to the trial. Now I knew about the trial two months ago and that the attorneys wanted me to be one of the witnesses. And, by the way, this trial that I went to this week was the third trial I a matter of I think about five or six weeks. This trail was different in that there was an angle that appeared that is going to be increasingly commonplace. The judge told the attorneys that he would decide who or who could not be a witness.

Now I find when I go to these trials that they know who you are. They get a file on every one of us who are regularly witnesses. They also get transcripts, very often, of our testimony. So they know what we have said. You see the file on their table. Sometimes they will actually say that three years ago or four years ago in North Carolina you made such and such a statement. How do you reconcile it with what you have just said?

So it is a very highly organized effort where state and federal authorities coordinate their endeavors to destroy religious liberty.

But this was unique, a federal judge saying of two witnesses, one was Dr. James McClelland, I believe of the University of Virginia whose book on Justice Storey and the constitution is very important. The other was myself. [00:06:07]

Now I finally went to the trial without knowing, because

Now I finally went to the trial without knowing, because up to five days before I went the judge had still refused to allow me to appear. I went there and spent Tuesday morning—this is Thursday—two days ago sitting in the witness room and finally at 1:30 I was allowed to go on the stand. The judge agreed. But when I got on the stand he said something to me he had told other witnesses who were representing our side that he wanted to hear nothing about the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, because, he said, “This court is not governed by what the Constitution says or what the framers thereof intended or said. It is governed only by what the Supreme Court says today and we attend... intend to abide strictly by the current position of the court.”

Now this is quite a radical departure, but a significant one. The court, of course, has said some contradictory things about the type of case that we regularly are involved in. The court often reverses itself. Lower courts often disagree or have in the past disagreed with the Supreme Court on what they believe are good, constitutional grounds. And the whole process of revision has been something that the courts at every level have been involved in. But what is now happening increasingly—and this was not something out of the blue—there were too many things that indicated this was in the offing. Judges are afraid to be overruled. To be overruled means that your likelihood of a promotion on the bench is scarce, because you are not in the mainstream of the law.

And so this judge very plainly ruled out any reference to the First Amendment or the Constitution. He did something further. He ruled out any reference to the fact that Humanism in the public schools. [00:09:08]

Now he did not make such a ruling when the opposition

Now he did not make such a ruling when the opposition brought up the subject, because I was able to make a few comments in answer to statements on cross examination.

Let me go into the trial and what it was about. This was a little different from other trials, but it is the sort of thing that seven, eight, nine years ago was very extensively dealt with in a number of cases. John Whitehead was involved in perhaps half a dozen or more and they were settled.

In this suburban high school of about 700 the school buses arrived about 8:25, some later and school began at 9 AM. In the approximately half hour interval a handful of the Christian students, feeling very much oppressed in the midst of a very hostile and humanistic educational environment, began to meet in a classroom. They began to share their faith one with another. And these were called sharing sessions. On one occasion they brought in a prominent pro football player to speak to them. On that occasion they had a somewhat higher attendance, but normally it was 25 with a maximum of 40 out of a student body of 700.

But this was somehow a violation of the First Amendment. The judge would not allow any reference to the fact that these children felt oppressed by the militant Humanism of the teaching. No reference to Humanism in the classroom. That was not tolerated by the judge. Neither did he want to consider the fact that the parents of children who said this was having a traumatic effect on their children represented parents of problem children. And in many of these cases—I don’t know anything about all of these cases—this is true. In this case, the children involved, that is, the children of the parents who protested this as a violation of the First Amendment were children who had a background going back as much, I was told, in one case six years of delinquency. But suddenly the presence of Christian teaching on the campus, well, sharing really. It was not any teaching. In a classroom with the other children free to do as they pleased during that time, no one asking them to come, 25 to 40 kids were somehow going to create a trauma for the 700. [00:12:38]

Now the judge was taking that very seriously, a federal

Now the judge was taking that very seriously, a federal judge.

Well, this is what our courts have become. And it is very, very difficult to find courageous judges now. There some and some very notable ones. About 10 days before that I was in Alabama. I appeared before a judge and I don’t know how he is going to rule. But I was impressed by this: his conduct of that trial. It was fair minded as he dealt with both sides, thoroughly fair minded.

I was so impressed I just appeared. I had been outside. I walked in. I had not heard the judges name. There was an intermission I think at about, oh, 11 or 11:15, five minute break and I asked the court clerk as soon as the judge left. I said, “What is the judge’s name?”

And she said, “It is Judge Hand, H A N D.”

I said, “Oh, is he a relative of Judge Learned Hand, the late Learned Hand?”

And she said, “Yes, Brevard Hand is a distant relative, cousins.”

Well, that was vey interesting to me. Judge Learned Hand was called the greatest judge who never made it to the US Supreme Court.

Now I have criticized some of Learned Hands ideas. He was an old fashioned liberal, which meant that some of his ideas were rather poor, but he was an old fashioned judge, too, an old fashioned liberal judge with a sense of integrity and with common sense.

One of the things that has always delighted me, I wish I could quote it exactly, but it... this was back in the 50s that I read this, it used to be that New York state granted divorce only for adultery, I believe, and in this one case the attempt to prove adultery had failed. The offended spouse had been unable to break into the hotel bedroom where the couple had gone in and the usual thing in those days was to get in somehow and to take a photograph that compromised the couple. And so the defense thought, well, it wasn’t technically a defense, but the offending spouse saw... sought to have the matter dropped on the grounds that there was no proof of adultery. [00:16:01]

And Judge Learned Hand ruled against that saying, ...

And Judge Learned Hand ruled against that saying, “It can be safely assumed that the couple did not go into the hotel room to say their pater noster, that is the Lord’s prayer.” That was Judge Learned Hand.

Well, Brevard Hand is a judge of the same mold. And it is interesting. I learned subsequently that he is the most reversed judge on the federal bench. He is a liberal, but they don’t like that kind of judge anymore who goes not by what the Supreme Court says, but by the law. So we are in trouble and very serious trouble, because it is our best judges that are past over, our best judges that are not taken seriously, because they have an independent frame of mind. They are not little sir echoes to the U S Supreme Court.

And what we have now is the sorry game of looking at the U S Supreme Court and calling this or that one conservative in terms of a comparison not to the Constitution or to any sound definition of Conservatism, but did they dissent with the far more liberal judges. That is a very, very poor definition of a conservative. It is like looking at 10 rapists and saying these three over here have only committed three rapes, but those have 15 or more rapes to their credit. These three are virtuous men. [00:18:25]

Now to go on to something else, but in a similar vein

Now to go on to something else, but in a similar vein. This is from an article in the Wednesday, November 24, 1982 Los Angeles Herald Examiner. It is an article by Gordon Dillow, a Herald Examiner staff writer. It is a very long article on the front and back pages of the first section. I am going to read just a little bit of it.

“When Dennis May walked out of federal court in Los Angeles last month, acquitted on cocaine charges, he thought the government would soon return the property seized by drug enforcement agents when they arrested him last spring, including his houseboat, his condominium, his two cars, blankets, silverware and a set of jumper cables, but the 31 year old May quickly learned otherwise. Despite the jury’s ruling, the U S still wants to keep his property and the burden of proof is on him to convince the government that it shouldn’t.”

Well, now the whole point of this is that .... well, let’s go back to May. May was involved in a real estate deal. He was a developer in various parts of the West, southern California and Nevada and in Las Vegas. He met a man named Ray Parker who was also involved in various business activities. He found that parker was a gambler and a former bank robber who said that he had been straight for the previous 10 years. So he did go into business with him.

May, as a former bar owner, as well as being a real estate developer, didn’t feel any strong moral convictions about someone having had a past like that as long as he was currently clean. [00:21:00]

So the two men came and went between southern California

So the two men came and went between southern California and Nevada as they worked out different angles of their various deals. Meanwhile Parker became involved in the use of cocaine and decided to deal in it as well.

Now, to continue the story. According to May whose version of the events corresponds with those of Parker and a lawyer familiar with the case, he was asked by Parker during the course of the drug deal to watch out for some cocaine in a hotel room for a few minutes. May, who said his previous record consists of one speeding ticket and nothing else, agreed. But when D A... D E A agents knocked at the door May said he flushed the cocaine down the toilet.

Now May previously had no involvement. It was at that point that he got involved. They were both arrested. All his property was seized. Parker was convicted. His testimony, as well as other testimony cleared May. But when he was acquitted he found that his property was not returned.

Now to read the rest of the article.

“Although that may strike some people as unfair as a form of double jeopardy, government attorneys point out that continuing civil proceedings against property, regardless of whether the owner has been cleared of criminal charges by a concept... a... is a concept that has been upheld up the Supreme Court in 1972 and 1974. According to William Link of the D E A Forfeiture Office in Washington, those rulings upheld the notion that the guilt of innocence of the owner of the property in a criminal case is irrelevant in a civil proceeding. Link and other D E A representatives who note that most civil forfeitures of property follow criminal convictions of the property owner, believe that the forfeiture laws are an effective means of combating drug trafficking.

“‘It has got to hurt them,’ Link said. ‘I think it is a deterrent.’”

“Still, May insists that a jury found him innocent.

“Meanwhile the Congress is considering two bills that would make even easier the seizure of property and assets belonging to suspected drug dealers. One measure already passed by the House of Representatives would allow for a criminal forfeiture of assets which means that when a suspected drug deal is indicted the indictment can specify which assets are allegedly drug connected and a jury can decide if they should be forfeited. That does away with the necessity of a civil action against the drug dealer.

“Another bill passed by the Senate also would broaden the circumstances under which a drug dealer’s assets can be forfeited. [00:24:36]

“Both bills would allow proceeds from drug related

“Both bills would allow proceeds from drug related property forfeitures, up to 10 million dollars, to be put into a special fund for use by the Justice Department in anti drug activities such as paying informers, supplying... supply money and so on. The proposed bills also make a number of other changes in existing federal drug laws including provisions to increase maximum fines for felony drug violations of 250,000 for the first offence. The maximum now is 25,000. And to allow the confiscation of land used to grow marijuana,” unquote.

Now, I have only read you a portion of this article and I think it is a very, very significant article, because the Justice Department having these powers now and planning to increase them will no doubt expand the powers steadily. They will before long, some believe, include IRS proceedings.

I other words, not only do they want to have a deterrent in drug cases, but in IRS cases. Already deterrents have been set up to make it difficult for you to fight the IRS. You have to pay the amount in many, many cases, if not all, before you can go to court and contest it. So what we do need is something as a deterrent on the federal government, a deterrent against this kind of thing, because as one attorney said, “This is the kind of thing that makes him wish he could leave the United States and find someplace else to live in.” It represents the onset of tyranny. [00:27:03]

Now we have got to handcuff the IRS and many another

Now we have got to handcuff the IRS and many another agency and instead we are increasing the powers of the Justice Department. Now if a man is acquitted, he is acquitted whether we like the man or agree with him or feel his method of operation was unwise or not has nothing to do with it. If he is acquitted, he should be acquitted. He should not lose all his property. And this is what is happening. And I don’t see that as justice. I think our courts are increasingly something to be afraid of. And it is high time that Congress did something about it.

Well, now to go to another subject. In October Dorothy, my wife, went with me to Colorado Springs to a meeting and had the privilege of meeting someone that she had known of previously and read about, J. D. Saunders. Now J. D. Saunders was a man born in 1901 and his life story is a very important one, both in terms of industrial history, the free market and the development of the oil industry. There is an excellent book, a biography of J. D. Saunders by one of our Chalcedon men, Otto Scot. The title is The Professional. If you are interested in having this book which is a 15 dollar book, we can provide it to you for five dollars if you will send us the money.

Now, Dorothy had read this book before, but she was so delighted with Saunders that she went back and started to reread the book with a great deal more pleasure than the first time and it is a delightful book, both because she had now met the man and she could understand his significance all the more having met him personally and having had the flavor of his personality.

Well, the book is, as I say, excellent in that it is the best history of the United States from 1900 to the present that you could get, I think, and the story of a very remarkable man. [00:30:08]

But at one point Saunders describes the fact that by

But at one point Saunders describes the fact that by 1938 it was obvious that the New Deal was a failure. Roosevelt’s efforts were doing nothing to the economy. And the interventionist economics was, to use his term, tottering. Now to read a paragraph on page 222.

“Yet a colder look at the results of the New Deal from 1933 until the Spring of 1938 might have given men less assured reason to wonder. Vast sums had been spent in emergency relief. And their effect had been to expand the government payroll and ease the distress of millions, but also to enlarge the national debt and to create an expectation of governmental aid that is yet to be exhausted. In the last four years of the open market place of the 20s which was itself not free from government intervention, new investments had averaged almost 10 billion dollars a year in the private sector. Such entrepreneurial capital averaged only one billion dollars a year and the years from 1933 through 1938. Clearly the New Deal had not found a way to restore the voluntary entrepreneurial system that had made the nation so remarkable before 1933. Many New Dealers seem to have conceived a hatred of that earlier America, however, and had no desire to see its return in any form. Meanwhile with the control of the nation’s agricultural sector in hand, the government of the United States through myriad agencies and new laws had effectively grown to a power that dwarfed all others on the domestic landscape,” unquote.

Now consider that fact. From 10 billion dollars a year invested in the free market to one billion dollars a year. Of course, now inflation has greatly increase the amount, but the significant fact is this. What the people of America said when the voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt was that we want an interventionist economy, ultimately Socialism. What they said as they faced the stock market was the same thing. And what they are saying today is the same thing. [00:32:59]

And I come now to the critical point

And I come now to the critical point. We have a lot of conservative, or so-called free market economic reporters out there producing any number of newsletters, but the said fact is that so may of them are ready to recommend on a short term basis purely in terms of money T-bills and other government securities. What they are telling people is that inflation is a good investment.

Well, it may be on the short term, but it is a long term disaster. Now I do believe we are on the brink of the worst inflation. I do believe we are going to see the death of the American dollar. I do believe that we are in the worst decade ahead economically in all of history, but I also believe we are on the brink of the greatest of all industrial revolutions. The first industrial revolution took place in what is sometimes called the dark ages when a number of remarkable inventions revolutionized agricultural and commercial life. One of them, a very simple one, was the horse collar. That made plowing, carrying freight and much more dramatically better.

Next great industrial revolution, of course, took place at the end of the 18th and in the early 19th century and we have been coasting on that one since. But we are now in the beginnings of the third great industrial revolution, micro electronic and related fields. It will revolutionize the world even more than the previous ones. But the problem is that people are investing in terms of security, not in terms of victory, not in terms of reconstruction. I don’t believe in that. We have to put our money where our mouth is. If we believe in godly reconstruction, if we believe there is a future, if we are Postmillennial, we are going to invest in that. It is a gamble. But there is no future without that. And to invest in inflation is sick. And when you by a T-bill you are investing in inflation. You are investing in Socialism and you are saying this is the safest investment of all. And I submit it is suicide. [00:36:21]

I am sorry to see so many people going into it

I am sorry to see so many people going into it. I don’t have the money to invest in anything, but I would not invest in it in inflation and in Socialism.

Well, another very quick item. One of our Chalcedon family is Dan Harris. He is a commodity broker in Chicago and one of my sons in law who is also a commodity broker says that Dan Harris is one of the half dozen best men in the business. And Dan confines himself to gold exclusively. Well ... while I was away for the trail Dan called and chatted with Dorothy and passed this on to me. And it was his evaluation of the elevation of Andropov to leadership in the Soviet Union. And he said Andropov is KGB man. That is his background. That is his experience. And you want leadership in terms of what you need. And so he said, “I believe that internal problems are very severe in the Soviet Union.” And what they felt they needed was a man who could cope with that so that internal repression and an attempt to keep the people of the Soviet Union in line may well have priority for Andropov.

I do believe Dan has put his finger on the answer. Let me add this. I just read from Otto Scot’s book about J. D. Saunders. The New Deal failed and Roosevelt became a crusader for world peace through world war. There was nothing he did that worked and so he became an aggressive interventionist. This may happen again on every side of the political fence including the Soviet Union, of course.

So we are at very difficult times. How we invest, how we live, how we act will have a lot to do with the future. We have got to invest in victory, politically, economically, religiously, personally. We have to invest in victory if we expect to have it. Now that is what Chalcedon is all about. That is why we do the work that we do. That is why I keep going to these trials. [00:39:40]

Someone told me, ...

Someone told me, “Why do you bother? You are wasting a lot of time. You are taking time away from books you ought to be writing. You are taking Chalcedon’s money,” because Chalcedon underwrites my travel in most cases, in a few cases where I am called by the state, the state pays everybody routinely. But in most cases the people don’t have the money and I contribute my services and Chalcedon my travel expenses.

At any rate the point was: Why do you bother to do it? The position of the courts is only becoming worse. So what future is there in the battle? Well, apart from making a stand, what future is there? That is saying there is no future. And I don’t believe it. I believe this is God’s world, not Andropov’s nor Reagan’s. And because it is God’s world, we are going to win. And I think the one’s who are headed for disaster are Reagan and Andropov. It is written in to what they are doing. It is written into what every civil government, virtually, is doing. And it is high time we realized that. The disaster is their disaster. If we re going to invest in them, we are going to be a part of their disaster.

Now to go on to something else. The December, 1982 Washington Monthly has some interesting things in it. Sometimes the Washington Monthly is so aggravating that I just put it aside with disgust. And other times it has some excellent material in it. I would like to read a portion from the editorial pages called “Tilting at Windmills.” And I quote.

“In 1977 we noted with some wonder about the licensing practices of American medicine, that Robert J. Sherman was being allowed to practice in Virginia even though his license had been revoked in the District of Columbia because of his negligence in performing an abortion that led to the death of a 16 year old girl. Subsequently, the good doctor had to interrupt his practice to serve time in a federal facility. After pleading guilty to an indictment that said he had a malicious interest in making more money cutting his costs and saving his time in disregard for the life and health of his patients. Where is this kindly old physician now? According to a story on page A-18 of the October 6th edition of The New York Times he is practicing medicine in Massachusetts. A hearing was to be held on revoking his license. It was scheduled 28 months after a complaint about Dr. Sherman’s record was filed with the Massachusetts licensing board. During that time Dr. Sherman’s license was automatically renewed. The Times put the matter gently when it said that the story rekindled public doubts about the ability of governmental agencies and medical organizations to identify and discipline errant members. [00:43:27]

“You may think that the Dr

“You may think that the Dr. Shermans are isolated exceptions to the prevailing pattern of integrity and respectable medical circles, but consider the fact that last year the Stanford University Medical Center was caught double billing. According to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, Stanford University has agreed to return one and a half million in Medicare fees after a federal audit concluded that the medical center had billed the government for more work than was done and in some cases billed different agencies for the same work.

“The one and a half million dollar pay back was on top of a reimbursement of more than 300,000 for similar billing irregularities discovered in a state audit for the same period.”

Now it goes on to ... well, I will comment here before going on to the rest of the article. This is what you get when you have socialism in medicine. The federal government controls medical licensure. The medical societies do less and less for the most part, because the power has been taken out of their hands or it is shared and this means there is no exercise of authority. Only when you have medical societies themselves licensing members in terms of their particular standards so that when you know you have such a name on a doctor’s license that he comes from a reputable medical group, a group that represents Christian standards. Then you can trust him. [00:45:17]

But, after all, the federal government doesn’t see

But, after all, the federal government doesn’t see anything with abortion that can be considered immoral or wrong. So why should they object to doctors like the one describe by the Washington Monthly?

Now this, again, from the same article.

“A retired Seattle fireman who had bought a gas station in 1946 for 60,000 put in ... put it in trust with Pacific National Bank now called First Interstate for the benefit of his children and grandchildren. By 1973 the property was assessed for 426,000. Nevertheless, the bank sold the property without the fireman’s knowledge for just 200,000. This year the property with a three story building on it was sold for seven and a half million dollars. The bank continues to charge more than 2000 a year to administer the trust. Still a Seattle judge ruled against the fireman when he sued the bank.

“When the Post Intelligencer’s Timothy Egan asked judge Norman Quinn why the 200,000 price was fair when just a few years later the property sold for seven and a half million the judge replied, ‘That is a good question.’

“Quinn went on to say that the sale was legally proper, but probably poor public relations. The bank made no public announcement that it was selling the property. Could this have had something to do with the fact that the rest of the block was owned by one of the bank’s main competitors whose chairman said his bank would have prepared an offer that would have reflected our desire for ownership of the entire block.

“The lesson to learn from this is that bank trust departments are run for the benefit of the banks primarily and only secondarily for the trust beneficiaries.

“As the fireman’s wife said, ‘If you can’t trust a trust, who can you trust?’ Well, certainly not lawyers.

“New York’s legislature in 1981 established a fund for people victimized by dishonest lawyers. So high are the claims in the first six months, reports the New York Times that officials are worried that the fund may go broke,” unquote.

Well, the more Socialism controls any sector of the economy—medicine, law, banking, or what not—the more corrupt it becomes because it removes responsibility from that area of life. And that is the problem with the schools today. They are socialist schools. So why expect anything good from them? [00:48:27]

Well, there is much more like this in the current issue

Well, there is much more like this in the current issue of Washington Monthly, which, as I say, is sometimes rather annoying, but often very much to the point.

Here is an item from ... let me see what the name of this publication is, I... Pulpit Helps. Pulpit Helps for December, 1982. And this is the kind of thing that is beginning to appear on the world scene increasingly.

I quote, “Denmark Gradually Forcing out Missionaries. By refusing to renew their visas, the government of Denmark is letting it be known that missionaries are no longer welcome there. Official reasons for the ban are related to economic and immigration policies to preserve jobs for Danes. However, since missionaries receive support from outside the country and cannot take jobs away from Danes, mission agencies suspect that other religious factors may be at work,” and so on.

Well, in one country after another, we are seeing this kind of attitude towards American missionaries. We are also seeing increasing hostile activities towards American businessmen. We are seeing also hostile activities towards American servicemen and have for many years now. But nothing is being done about it, not a thing. After all, what can you expect of Washington when there was not a protest lodged in Mexico when with the nationalization of American... of Mexican banks, American assets were frozen? This is the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether the people in Washington regard the public as their number one public enemy. [00:51:03]

One of the books I read recently that was a great delight

One of the books I read recently that was a great delight, well, I think I will leave it for the next time.

Well, no, I think I will. I just can’t resist it. It is a book that was written some years ago and has been reprinted again and again and it is Ruth Sheldon Knowles, K N O W L E S, the title is The Greatest Gamblers: The Epic of American Oil Exploration, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Now Ruth Knowles comes from a background of the oil business so she knows it well. But she describes the great entrepreneurs and innovators in this area and their swashbuckling ways. And this delighted me and it is about H. L. Hunt who was like a good many others in the field.

And I quote. “H. L. Hunt was contemptuous of geology and geologists. He refused to look at their maps. ‘Finding oil is all luck,’ he told a friend. ‘Some people are born lucky and are lucky all their lives. Others are born unlucky.’

“There seemed to be no room for argument in his case. If oil companies were leasing property... prospective land in one direction Hunt would lease in the opposite direction for no reason except the leases were cheaper, because there was no competition. Oil would usually be found on Hunt’s leases. He would not drill on scientific recommendations, but might have 40 wildcats drilling at one time on hunches or even a dream.

“Atlantic Oil leased and seismographed 2000 acres in Louisiana. Deciding that prospect was not important enough, the company tried to get someone to drill, keeping the royalties. Nobody else liked it either including H. L. Hunt’s company. Jimmy Owens, a drilling contractor, went to see Hunt personally.

“‘Mr. Hunt, I had a dream last night,’ he said, ‘There is a play over in Louisiana I know about and I dreamed I drilled a well on it for you and we hit. You and I were out at the well sitting on a log playing poker and won 500,000 dollars from you. I took the check to the bank to deposit and my banker asked me what I was going to do with the money. I told him I was going to buy another rig and go to Canada. And he said I had enough pig iron already and I had better pay off my notes.’

“Hunt’s green eyes sparkled. ‘Well, if you won that much money from me in a poker game, Jimmy, there must be oil there.’ He laughed. ‘We’ll just drill it and see. I will carry you for a half interest and give you the drilling contract. And when we hit oil you can drill up the field.’ [00:54:21]

“It was no surprise to H...

“It was no surprise to H. L. Hunt when the well found oil, not just a little, but one of those 750 to one shots, a 15 million barrel field.

“Hunt ran his company out of his hip pocket. No man knew what another was doing. Hunt was a hunter whose pack of bird dogs worked in circles. Their purpose was to flush the birds for him. One day in the late 40s he showed up unexpectedly in an office the company had in Midland, Texas. A rising young oil man, Jimmy McCrea, was unsuccessfully trying to sell Hunt land leases.

“Hunt nodded amiably and remarked quietly to the land man, ‘I want you to spend four million dollars drilling wells during the next 60 says.’

“The land man gasped. ‘But, Mr. Hunt, we don’t have any place to spend it and we couldn’t possibly spend that much money in that short a time.’

“‘Just spend it drilling,’ Hunt said affably and walked out.

“The land man turned despairingly to Jimmy McCrea. ‘Well, Jimmy, I will take that deal. It didn’t look good a few minutes ago, but it sure does now.’

“The land man telephoned a lease broker in Houston. ‘Pass the word to all the boys to round up their drilling deals and meet me at the Rice Hotel on two days. I will take four million dollars worth of deals.’

“Jimmy McCrea grabbed his hat. ‘I will see you at the Rice myself,’ he said.

“At the hotel, the promoters of oil deals stood in line. Two secretaries and a lawyer flanked the land man. Disgustedly he signed contracts for every proposition no matter what as long as the lease titles were good and the wells could be drilled immediately. Every cat and dog deal that had been floating around unaccepted for years was about to have its chance. The campaign was the joke of oil circles. Everybody knew that Hunt was in a hurry to spend money before the end of the year since if not used for drilling the money would have to be paid in taxes.

“‘What a stupid way to throw away money,’ one oil man said. ‘If I just had that money to spend on some really good prospect, I would find oil.’

“H. L. Hunt didn’t mind being called stupid. When his several hundred wildcats were drilled, he almost doubled his own oil reserves. And the nation was enriched with new reserves that otherwise might not have been found.

“Some of H. L. Hunt’s luck rubbed off on Jimmy McCrea. On a smaller scale, he, too, parlayed seemingly unpromising prospects into a successful, aggressive, independent oil exploration company. He disagreed, however, with Hunt’s belief that it was all luck.” [00:57:21]

Well, there is more to this, but the author does say

Well, there is more to this, but the author does say that Hunt gambled on everything. On football weekends he would bet 25,000 a game on each of six games. He kept two accountants busy figuring odds on horses so he could bet on practically every race in the country. One year he won a million dollars on racing bets.

Well, it is a delightful book about a tremendous area of American life, the oil companies, the oil wildcatters, the oil independents. And that is what Otto Scott’s The Professional is about and, of course, what Ruth Sheldon Knowles touches on is just a few of the more flamboyant characters, but this was the field with some really great men in it. And Saunders is one of them. So I know you will enjoy those books if you read them.

Well, it has been good to spend this time with you again. I have still a pile of materials I want to get to, but we will do that on another occasion.

I do appreciate the comments some of you have made and suggestions for things to discuss. And when I find that there are more than one of you interested in a subject, I will go back to the letter of the original writer and try to deal with it. Now if I don’t, it is because I think there may not be enough interest, or because I don’t know enough about it, frankly, to be able to comment on the subject.

Well, thanks for listening and I will be with you again in two weeks.

[Voice] Authorized by the Chalcedon Foundation, archived by the Mount Olive Tape Library, digitized by

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