The Texas Tribune had a story this week about a family of West Texas billionaires who struck it rich in the oil and gas fracking boom and are investing large amounts of their fortune in legislative candidates and a political action committee that, if given the opportunity, would gut state government, beginning with public education.
The family, led by brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, also has contributed $15 million to a super PAC supporting the presidential race of Ted Cruz, who, if elected, would try to gut the federal government, eliminating a host of services millions of Americans actually need.
In a recent interview, Farris Wilks told a TV reporter why he was investing so heavily in political races.
“I fear that our nation is going in the direction of socialism, and so I think that maybe we’ve forgotten what has brought us to the place we are as a nation,” he said.
Here’s a guy who has made a fortune, partly by hard work and partly by a government that has promoted his business. State regulations encourage fracking and try to ignore some of the environmental issues that have been associated with it. Voters in the city of Denton approved a local ordinance trying to ban fracking rigs from towering over their backyards and spewing noxious fumes through their neighborhoods, but Gov. Abbott and the Legislature overturned it, much to the delight of people like Wilks.
Wilks has the government he wants but has the gall to cry, “Socialism.”
The risk of Texas and the United States becoming socialist is about as great as the probability that Farris Wilks will vote for Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat for president.
Wilks, of course, is free to support the political candidates of his choice, but socialism is a scare word, not an issue. What Wilks really fears is the Texas Legislature or the federal government clamping new environmental and public safety restrictions on his business. So, he is supporting political candidates who will keep giving him the government he wants, which is as little government as possible. Never mind the public service needs of school kids and the rest of Texas’ non-billionaires.
Wilks also is overlooking – or ignoring – the fact that education and all the innovation it has produced also are major factors in, as he put it, “what has brought us to the place we are as a nation.”
Some of the candidates he is supporting would turn back the calendar.