Ralph Kingsbury Column: Nominating Harold Hamm For Roughrider Award


I hereby nominate Harold Hamm to receive the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award from the state of North Dakota. For all that it is supposed to stand for Harold Hamm would certainly rank as one of the most deserving, if not the single most deserving of all of those to whom it has been given so far.

I mean it is nice that a North Dakota native was regarded in her time as a major Broadway actress, but she was just an actress who is now largely forgotten by all but a few of her profession. So too someone who made it as a broadcast journalist. What did his life’s work mean to the world, or even North Dakota other than that mention in the occasional story, “born in North Dakota”.

Even more shocking to people of 40 or so and greater, the same will soon be true of Lawrence Welk. Even today in North Dakota many of the millennia’s ask who he was. He had a band we tell them. So to did Podipto.

Don’t misunderstand, there are many deserving of the award. Doug Burgum made a difference to North Dakota. More than that he made a difference to the world. His work was important.

On the other hand a successful businessman was just that, a successful businessman. That’s all. That you made a lot of money is good for you, but unless you donated a building or scholarships to some community your success didn’t mean anything to anyone else. Otherwise, outside of his family who would have heard the name Sanford.

Look at the current list of 40 people. Think about what it the definition should be and think of all of those who were only known in their time, and not much more. On the other hand, think of those like Burgum, and even a sportsman like Roger Maris.  So too many others who received the award.

Then too, think of those North Dakotans who are not Rough Riders, but whose life was at least as important, and often more so than some who are on the list. The father of a childhood friend was a highly decorated hero of WWII and was named the U.S. Handicapped Citizen of the Year. His handicaps came from all the wounds he received in the war.  He helped preserve our freedom, but he is not a Rough Rider. He was more important to you and me than an actress, or that business person.

What is, or should be, the major criteria for receiving the award, is you did something that changed the world, or the nation, or at least you changed North Dakota. As I look at the list of awardees I cannot think of a single person who is more qualified under those criteria than Harold Hamm.

Harold Hamm changed the world. He didn’t figure out fracking, but he is the one who “engineered” fracking in shale oil. It changed the North Dakota oil patch from a sleepy little backwater into what may be the largest oil pool in the world, ever.

Now you can talk about global warming, about carbon burning, but it was going to happen at least until we can make alternative energy workable. So, this is the difference: Last year oil exports from the OPEC countries declined by 16 percent, and this is just the start, and that was because of Harold Hamm.

Because of Harold Hamm more Americans are alive. Many fewer are not missing limbs. We do not have to fight to keep the oil supply line open as we needed to even only a couple of years ago. If the rest of the free world would do as North Dakota has done in a few years it may be a reduction of 100 percent in oil imports.

Fracking means that all that economic activity takes place here in America, not in some foreign land. In under graduate economics classes we studied the theory of comparative advantage. OPEC used to have the comparative advantage. Today Watford City is the definition of comparative advantage.

North Dakota was an important food source for the whole world, and maybe a 1000 tourists each year from out of state visited our special places. Today that bread basket to the world still exist. Now too, we have an economic system that is as important to mankind as anything else in the world, ever.

That all exists today because of one man. A man who is not from North Dakota, who is only here because of the oil, because of capitalism, because of Adam Smith’s “hidden hand”, and look what it has done for the world. Look at the potential for world peace he has created.

Harold Hamm is undoubtedly the truest example of a Rough Rider you and I have ever known. Let’s hope those responsible for doing so make the award to him. I hope to attend the ceremony. I hope to see all of North Dakota there congratulating Harold Hamm.