This week the Senate unveiled a new piece of legislation aimed at getting natural gas powered vehicles on the road. Guess who was on hand to help the Senate promote this piece of legislation? T. Boone Pickens, the biggest booster and investor in natural gas vehicles.
This got Tim Carney* at the DC Examiner all in a lather. It’s not just that T. Boone stands to gain from this legislation, but it’s the fact that Pickens was once thought of as a bad guy for this kind of behaviour. Now, drapped in the cloak of green, working with government he’s a good guy.
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 characterised as the ‘decade of greed.’ ” The offence 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.”
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