Tag Archives: economic outlook for Dickinson North Dakota

Everyone In Dickinson Needs To Start Reading Google News Stories

For the past eight years I have struggled to understand the mechanisms at work which cause things to happen in Dickinson, North Dakota.  It has been difficult for me to read what is reported in the Dickinson Press newspaper, and try to figure out the origin of these events well enough to be able to have an overall understanding of what is happening, and why.  My goal was to know what was going to happen, ahead of time.

I mentioned a month or two ago that I realized that I had relied too much on the Dickinson Press newspaper for my information.  There was so much more being reported elsewhere that the people in Dickinson really needed to know.  They could have been much better prepared for what was to come.

For instance, it was never pointed out to me by the Dickinson Press that one of the largest locally operating oil companies, Whiting Petroleum, had a stock price decline from $370/share in 2014 to $1.37/share recently in 2020.  This was something that we all needed to know in Dickinson.  Whiting Petroleum is one of the biggest employers in Dickinson, and many people in Dickinson receive oil revenue payments from Whiting Petroleum oil wells located on their property.

This morning I read on Google News Stories, that Whiting Petroleum has just declared bankruptcy, and their stock price went down to 37 cents/share:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-01/whiting-petroleum-files-for-bankruptcy-amid-oil-price-collapse

https://www.barrons.com/articles/whiting-petroleum-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy-51585753208

Google, especially on people’s mobile phones, provides the top five or six news stories of the moment, that are most relevant to where you are located.  For me, a dozen times per day, when I look at Google on my mobile phone, they have oil industry news stories from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, and many other oil industry journals.

Every day in this past month of March 2020, I have been reading in-depth expert analysis of international events, OPEC, Texas oil associations, Canadian oil industry and transport, U.S. legislation, Canadian legislation, oil company stock market price trends, oil company financial statements and loan debt, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, etcetera.  All of their indicators and predictions have foretold what eventually happened a few days or a few weeks later.

These very large news agencies have the budgets to allow highly intelligent journalists/investigators/analysts to devote all of their time to focusing solely on the energy industry, stock market trends, government legislation, and so forth.

Sometimes this is not easy reading, it is too complicated or incorrectly supposes some expertise on the part of the reader.  Fortunately, there are usually several different news agencies or industry journals that cover the exact same topic on the same day.

For at least two months, oil industry analysts have been pointing out that Whiting Petroleum had a huge loan debt, something like $2.2 billion, that was way out of proportion to both the revenue and the net worth of Whiting.  Much of this debt was becoming due in 2020, this was one of the main reasons why the stock price of Whiting dropped to $1.37 per share in March, that plus the price of oil dropping to $20 per barrel, and the coronavirus shut down of the economy.

The oil industry analysts have been going through the financial statements of all of the large and small oil companies.  It turns out, that nearly all of the oil companies involved in fracking over the last ten years, have spent and borrowed way more money than they have earned.  All of the oil companies involved in fracking had the belief that as long as they kept drilling new wells, eventually they would have a large enough revenue stream to pay off all of their debt, but that never actually happened for any of these companies, they all made this same mistake.

The price of oil dropping to $20 per barrel, the oversupply of oil that exists, the coronavirus shutting down the economy, has made everyone in the oil industry stop and look at what they are doing.  It is now universally realized, that the oil companies can’t continue doing what they have been doing.  Because of this, the stock price of two of the largest oil companies operating in this area, Continental Resources and Marathon Oil, have also dropped greatly.

https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/investing/T052-S001-7-oil-and-gas-stocks-dangerous-waters/index.html

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/big-shale-borrowers-fast-track-100000698.html

What only a few journalists/investigators/analysts are writing about, is the oil company disaster that is coming if and when the Democrats ever win the Presidency, and a majority in the House or Senate.  The Democrats have said that they want to ban fracking, which is the only way to retrieve North Dakota oil.  Additionally, the Democrats may even initiate gigantic lawsuits seeking damages and reparations for supposed environmental damage caused by the fracking oil companies such as Continental Resources, Marathon Oil, Whiting Petroleum, and many others. How could all of these oil companies not go bankrupt with a ban on fracking and these lawsuits?

The future of Dickinson, North Dakota is being told by these daily Google News Stories.  The people here don’t have to be in the dark about what is going to happen.

How Dickinson Works, And What Is Going To Happen, Part II

Although this blog post is a continuation from Part I, here is where I begin explaining the basis for understanding how Dickinson, North Dakota works.

If anyone wants or expects to be successful in Dickinson, they must first understand how Dickinson works.  I am going to start off with the simplest, most important facts first.

Foremost, Dickinson is the regional center for shopping, supplies, and services for the geographical areas consisting of Medora, Belfield, South Heart, New Hradec, Manning, Killdeer, Halliday, Dodge, Gladstone, Taylor, Richardton, Lefor, Regent, and New England.  No matter what else happens, Dickinson being the supply center for these aforementioned towns is not likely to change for a long time.  The next largest city, Bismarck, the state capital, is 100 miles to the east.  Here is a map of the Dickinson area
https://images.app.goo.gl/su98oCKBHxrKd3pNA

Geographically, there is nothing special or unique about Dickinson.  It sits on a rolling, nearly tree-less prairie, just like all of the other towns in this area.  Dickinson got its start the same way as all of the other towns in western North Dakota, it was settled by land-grant homesteaders after the passage of the 1862 Homestead Act.  The homesteaders in the Dickinson area were primarily immigrants from Ukraine, Germany, and Scandinavia.

The fourteen towns that I mentioned earlier, Medora, Belfield, South Heart, New Hradec, Manning, Killdeer, Halliday, Dodge, Gladstone, Taylor, Richardton, Lefor, Regent, and New England, by the early 1900s each of these towns had their own general store, school house, and churches.  Before the invention and widespread use of the automobile, it took much more time to travel, it was done by horse, buggy, wagon, or on foot.  Even small communities had to have some local businesses, a school house, and churches.

Some of the factors or circumstances that caused Dickinson to grow more than the surrounding towns were:  the Northern Pacific railroad was built through Dickinson in the 1880s;  the 40-room St. Josephs Hospital was built in Dickinson in 1911;  Dickinson  State University was founded in 1918;  the Dickinson Municipal Airport began airline service in 1959;  Interstate 94 was completed through Dickinson in the 1960s.

As Dickinson grew, gained more businesses, provided more services, and its infrastructure grew, the surrounding towns began to rely more and more on Dickinson for supplies and services.  Unfortunately, as time went on, the surrounding towns began to lose many of their own local businesses and services, because of Dickinson.

For instance, the towns of Medora, Belfield, South Heart, New Hradec, Manning, Halliday, Dodge, Gladstone, Lefor, Regent, and New England no longer have a grocery store, family clothing store, appliance store, drug store, pharmacy, clinic, or doctor.  Most of the surrounding towns do not have an automobile dealer, an automobile repair shop, a tire dealer, or barber shop.

The following are the essential businesses in Dickinson, the type of businesses that this area can not go without:

Four grocery stores, five hardware stores, two farm/ranch supply stores, three building supply stores, five tire stores, nine automobile dealers, nine auto repair shops, four automobile tow companies, four pharmacies, two funeral homes, five liquor stores, and Walmart.

The following businesses in Dickinson are almost essential to this area:

Three truck stops, two tractor truck repair/parts centers, several heavy equipment/farm equipment dealer/repair/parts centers, three heavy equipment rental yards, several industrial/electrical/welding supply warehouses, three utility/livestock trailer dealer/repair centers, ten fast food restaurants, half a dozen furniture stores, and eleven banks.

These aforementioned businesses in Dickinson are either essential or very nearly essential to this area.  Because of these businesses, this is what brings people to Dickinson, brings money to Dickinson, and provides employment for people in Dickinson.  Without these businesses, there would be no people coming to Dickinson, no money coming into Dickinson, no employment in Dickinson, and very few people able to live in Dickinson.

When I start to list the essential services in Dickinson below, such as the schools and hospitals, the reader must remember, if it were not for the large number of essential businesses in Dickinson that bring people to Dickinson, there would not be enough people living in Dickinson to have schools and hospitals.  The services are here, because of the number of people here, and the number of people here, are the result of the large number of essential businesses in Dickinson.

The following are the essential services in Dickinson, the services that this area can not go without:

Two public utility companies, two public phone service companies, one ambulance service, two medium size hospitals, half a dozen medical clinics, half a dozen dentists, several optometrists, police department, sheriff department, regional jail, several fire stations, highway patrol office, city maintenance department, department of transportation office, driver’s license office, regional court house, one post office, two high schools, middle school, several elementary schools, and several veterinarians.

The following services in Dickinson are very nearly essential to this area:

One regional airport with private airplane and commercial airline service, one bus service, several car rental services, half a dozen taxi services, a dozen motels/hotels, many beauticians and barbers, two dozen attorneys, a dozen CPAs, many residential and commercial contractors in plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing, home construction, concrete, and excavation.

I spent some time trying to specifically identify the essential businesses and essential services in Dickinson, to make everyone completely aware, that many of the other types of businesses and services in Dickinson are just supplemental, they are not critical.

Some of the supplemental, non-critical types of businesses and services in Dickinson are:

Traditional restaurants, pizza delivery, ice cream parlors, coffee shops, bars, sports bars, bicycle shops, guns stores, sporting goods stores, movie theaters, motorcycle dealers, snow mobile dealers, UTV dealers, travel trailer dealers, tattoo parlors, vehicle accessory dealers, jewelry stores, dance studios, fitness centers, tanning salons, pawn shops, daycare centers, insurance agencies, real estate agencies.

Lastly, I need to name some of the large companies that operate in Dickinson, that have not been covered yet because they are not an essential business or service in Dickinson, but they do employ many people in Dickinson.  These are companies that perform work or sell products outside of the Dickinson area:

Halliburton, Schlumberger, BJ Services, Marathon Oil, Continental Resources, Philips Conoco, Whiting Petroleum, Key Energy, MBI, Nuverra, Lufkin, Fisher Industries, General Steel, Medora Corporation, Steffes, TMI cabinets, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, Martin Construction, Northern Improvement, Baranko Brothers, Tooz Construction, and Winn Construction.

There are several reasons why I separated the businesses and services in Dickinson into separate categories. One reason was to provide clarity on what types of businesses and services there are in Dickinson; Second, I wanted to differentiate between essential/non-essential businesses and services; and Third, I wanted to be able to show how the end of the oil boom in Dickinson is going to affect businesses, services, and employment in Dickinson based on the role of the business or service in the economy.

The most recent oil boom in North Dakota lasted from 2007 through 2015.  Due to the price of oil dropping from over $100 per barrel to less than $50 per barrel in 2015, the oil companies decreased drilling operations.

The number of operating oil drill rigs in North Dakota went from over 200 to less than 50 currently.  Less drilling meant less well sites being developed, less drill rigs operating, less drill rigs being transported, less hydraulic fracturing, less sand and water hauling, less work-over rig completions, less pump jacks being installed, less cranes being rented, less tractor truck and hot shot transportation of material and equipment to the oil field.

The number of workers employed in the oil field decreased.  Many of the oil field workers who lost their job left the Dickinson area.  Consequently, there were fewer purchases and less money spent at local businesses such as auto dealers, auto repair shops, tire stores, furniture stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, bars, sporting goods stores, movie theaters, etcetera.

Many workers leaving Dickinson caused there to be a decreased demand for housing.  The number of new and existing homes and apartments available for occupancy, exceeded the demand.  This was a signal that new homes, new apartments, new businesses, new shopping centers, new roads, and new infrastructure might not need to be constructed.

The residential and commercial construction industries slowed down in the Dickinson area.  This meant even more unemployed workers leaving the Dickinson area.  Less heavy equipment was being purchased, less heavy equipment was being rented, less building supplies were being purchased, local businesses had fewer customers and fewer purchases, less services were being used, more homes and apartments became vacated.

Near the beginning of March 2020, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, and Russia did not agree to reduce the amount of oil that they were producing.  This caused an oversupply of oil on the World market, and the price of oil in the U.S. dropped to $31 per barrel after the first week of March.  This oil price drop is predicted to start a whole new oil industry slow down, with even less oil well sites being developed and drilled.

The oil field work in Dickinson is expected to decrease even further now, with more oil field workers losing their jobs and leaving Dickinson.  There will be even fewer customers and less money spent at local businesses and services in Dickinson.

The essential businesses in Dickinson, such as grocery stores, hardware stores, automobile dealers, and tire stores, they will have fewer customers, they will be less busy, and some of these businesses will reduce their number of employees.

The nearly essential business such as heavy equipment dealers, heavy equipment repair, trailer dealers, furniture stores, and banks will reduce their number of employees.

The essential service providers such as medical clinics and schools will eventually reduce some of their staff as there are fewer people in Dickinson.

The nearly essential service providers such as beauticians, attorneys, plumbers, electricians, and HVAC will have less work.

Supplemental non-critical businesses and services in Dickinson that will have less work, and require fewer workers are restaurants, coffee shops, tattoo parlors, recreational vehicle dealers, daycare centers, insurance agencies, and real estate agencies.

Some of the large employers in Dickinson who will have less work, and could reduce their workforce are:  Halliburton, Schlumberger, BJ Services, Marathon Oil, Continental Resources, Conoco Philips, Whiting Petroleum, MBI, Nuverra, Lufkin, Steffes, Martin Construction, Northern Improvement, Baranko Brothers, Tooz Construction, and Winn Construction.

Once essential businesses, essential service providers, supplemental business and services, and some of the largest employers in Dickinson have let some of their workers go, these unemployed workers and their families may have to leave the Dickinson area.  This in turn will make Dickinson even smaller, with even less consumers.

Dickinson will continue to be the regional supplier of goods and services for this area, because there are fourteen smaller towns surrounding Dickinson that rely on it.  I estimate that the population of Dickinson right now is approximately 24,000 people.  By the year 2022, I believe that the population of Dickinson will have decreased to about 21,000 people.

The reason for the expected decline in population, is because of the reduced work in the oil field.  Unemployed oil field workers will leave Dickinson, local businesses and services will become less busy, these local businesses and services will lay off some of their workers.  These unemployed workers and their families will leave Dickinson.

How Dickinson Works, And What Is Going To Happen, Part I

When I became an adult, and was living on my own, whatever town or city that I was living in, I tried to figure out what was going on, what was happening, and what were the causes and reasons for what was happening.

Whether it was my hometown, a college town like Gainesville, a city like Tampa, or a mountain destination town like Flagstaff, I took an interest in the nicest, largest homes, the wealthiest neighborhoods, and I wondered who were the people who lived there, what did they do for a living, and how did they make their money?

The people who were able to afford very nice homes, nice automobiles, and enjoyed a high standard of living, I believed that if I could learn some of the things that they had done to become successful, maybe I could copy them or adapt some of the things that they had done, in order to become successful too.

Successful people who won the lottery or inherited a large amount of money from their relatives, you obviously can’t just copy that.  Medical doctors who became wealthy as they got older, most people aren’t able to become a doctor in the first place.  Wealthy real estate brokers, insurance company owners, car dealership owners, manufacturing company owners, and other business owners, these people caused me to wonder how they got started.

When I had the chance to talk to and get to know wealthy, successful business owners, it turned out that their success had a lot to do with being in the right place, at the right time, with the right idea, and a willingness to take risks at that time.  There was some “dumb luck”, or “blind luck”, but these people also had an understanding or belief that their idea would work at that particular time and place, that came from their understanding of what was going on in the World, and the place that they were.

What I am trying to explain, is that if you want to be successful, you first have to understand where you are, what is going on, and what is happening where you are.  You, the reader, are probably thinking that I am pointing out the obvious, thinking, “Of course people try to understand what is happening around them.”  But, no, they don’t, not really.  Most people just get an impression or idea in their head, and that is their conclusion.  They don’t think any further, to test, challenge, examine, or validate their conclusions.

In Dickinson, North Dakota, where I am currently living, most of the people here form their opinion about reality from listening to their neighbors, friends, relatives, local politicians, community leaders, and Chamber of Commerce; from watching television news stations out of Bismarck and Fargo; from reading the Bismarck Tribune or Dickinson Press newspaper; or from what they see on Facebook or hear on the radio.  These sources that I just mentioned are O.K. to get information from, but the impression that local people get from these sources, is their conclusion, they don’t think any further to examine, analyze, test, check, or question their immediate conclusions.

Concerning Dickinson, what the newscasters in Bismarck or Fargo said on the nightly news, what nationwide newscasters said, what local politicians, community leaders, company owners, business managers, and Chamber of Commerce representatives said in newspaper, radio, or television interviews, when their statements didn’t seem to match what was actually happening in Dickinson, I was angry about it, because people in Dickinson formed their understanding of reality and made their life decisions based on incorrect information that was being reported, written, said, and spread.

Questioning what newscasters in Bismarck, Fargo, or New York said about Dickinson, had they ever even been to Dickinson?  It turns out, that most news reporters and writers for television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and journals were getting their information from local politicians, community leaders, company owners, business managers, and Chamber of Commerce representatives, a group of people who can’t or won’t ever say anything other than positive outlook statements.

The following misinformation was reported so often and repeated so often that most of the people in Dickinson still to this day, think that this is reality:  One, “This oil boom is going to last for the next twenty years.” and Two, “Everyone working in the oil field is making $100,000 per year.”

The oil boom in North Dakota lasted from 2007 through 2015.  This oil boom began once the price of oil was over $100 per barrel, it became profitable to extract North Dakota oil through the process of hydraulic fracturing.  Once the price of oil dropped below $50 per barrel in 2015, it was no longer profitable for oil companies to drill and use hydraulic fracturing to produce oil.

The number of operating oil drill rigs in North Dakota went from over 200, to less than 50 currently.  From 2015 through the present, residents in Dickinson still express the belief, “It’s going to come back.” and “It’s starting to pick back up again.”  In the history of the World, there has never been an oil boom that lasted more than ten years in one place, but the people in Dickinson do not believe this reality.

One of the largest oil companies operating in the Dickinson area, is Whiting Petroleum.  The stock price of Whiting Petroleum reached an all-time high of $370 per share in 2014.  Last week, Whiting Petroleum stock was trading at $1.28 per share.  In the past year, Whiting Petroleum laid off one-third of its workforce in order to cut costs.

Many people in Dickinson have believed for years that, “Everyone working in the oil field is making $100,000 per year.”  This has never been true, and it certainly is not true now.  This belief, and the belief that “It’s starting to pick back up again” has misguided many of the people in Dickinson, causing them to make bad life decisions.

Instead of realizing that the oil boom in North Dakota was a once-in-a-lifetime, short-lived deal, most of the people in Dickinson acted like there was no end to it.  The sudden dramatic increase in local business, the sudden increase in demand for goods, services, and housing, allowed many local people to make windfall money, especially land owners and people who owned the mineral rights on land.

What did the local people in Dickinson do with their windfall money?  Most of them purchased the most expensive, over-priced, top-of-the-line pickup truck, travel trailer, UTV, toy hauler, or snow mobile.  Now, looking back on these purchases made in 2008-2014, roughly ten years later, all of these things are worth less than half of what they originally cost, and they are continuing to decline in value until they are nearly worthless.

Had the people in Dickinson known the truth, that this North Dakota oil boom would last from 2007-2015, they may not have spent their windfall money so carelessly and frivolously, and instead saved and invested their money so that it would last them for the remainder of their lives.

Another thing that happened in Dickinson during the oil boom, the housing prices doubled, then quadrupled.  A house in Dickinson that might have sold for $75,000 in 2006, the asking price in 2012-2014 might have been $300,000.  Some local people, and some out-of-state workers, bought houses in Dickinson at the peak of the oil boom real estate market.  They did this, because they believed that the oil boom would continue, they had better buy a house now, the house prices would only continue to increase.

Now that the oil boom is over in Dickinson, a house that was purchased for $300,000 in 2012-2014, it might only sell for $200,000 now, or it might not even sell at $150,000.  Most of the people in Dickinson are not making very much money now, many people have left Dickinson, and many people have job uncertainty.

Everyone in Dickinson needs to start over on assessing what reality is in Dickinson, what is going on, what is happening, what are the reasons and causes for what is happening.  In my next blog post, Part II, I will start with the basic essential businesses, services, and employees in Dickinson, that which everything else is built upon, so that people can see and understand what is happening, and what is going to happen.

The Intentional And Deliberate Collapse Of Dickinson, North Dakota

I am not writing this blog post solely out of hate, though I do hate many of the people in Dickinson, and I want to see them get what is coming to them, for what they did to me, and to other people.  Even so, I still feel like warning people, especially the ordinary, plain people who are usually the last to know anything.

The people in Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks, the wealthy people, the bankers, the people at the highest level of government in North Dakota, they want to collapse Dickinson, North Dakota for several different reasons.

Everyone outside of western North Dakota is aware of the repeated and continual frauds committed in the Dickinson area:  enormous government funding and donation funding to build the St. Alexius Hospital which is an empty shell and inadequate;  Dickinson State University not-for-profit Foundation receiving investor funding and donations to build Hawks Point Assisted Living and the Biesiot Activities Center, yet not paying and denying liability for construction loans from banks;  $1 million private donation to open the Strom Center For Entrepreneurship and all the money is gone with no accounting for it;  Dickinson State University awarding hundreds of college diplomas to foreign students who never completed the curriculum; Civil Service Commission never once in its history ever siding with a City of Dickinson employee;  methamphetamine addicts running loose and out-of-control in the City of Dickinson.

Everyone outside of western North Dakota is aware of what has been going on in Dickinson, and it has been decided, that one of the ways to handle it, is to make Dickinson as small and inconsequential as possible, to collapse Dickinson.

For instance, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library And Museum being constructed on the DSU campus was an idea that would have increased the enrollment at DSU, increased the importance of DSU, and brought many visitors and money to Dickinson.  The Governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, stepped in and used all of his influence and powers of persuasion with the board of directors of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library And Museum Foundation to not build in Dickinson.

Another example, the president of DSU, Thomas Mitzel, came up with the idea, that DSU could become a polytechnic campus, providing certificates and degrees for people working in industries in the Dickinson area.  This idea would have been a tremendous boost for DSU and Dickinson.  The oil and gas industries would have gladly provided financial support to DSU for training that prepared people for employment with them.  Students from around the country would have been attracted to DSU for its ability to place graduates in high paying jobs in the oil and gas industry.  Not only did the State of North Dakota not listen to president Thomas Mitzel’s ideas, it cut DSU’s funding in order to show president Mitzel that he needed to leave.

The truth is, that the State of North Dakota does not want DSU to grow and prosper, it wants DSU to go belly-up.  It wants DSU’s enrollment, reputation, and status to decline so much, that there is clear justification to close DSU.  You just watch and wait to see all the ways the State of North Dakota has planned to decrease funding, eliminate programs, discourage administrators and professors, hire ineffective leadership.

As I have written in previous blog posts, the Banks have implemented lending policies so that people can not buy homes in Dickinson.  This will cause homes not to sell, sellers defaulting on their mortgages, and home prices in Dickinson falling drastically.

The intention is, to diminish the size of Dickinson, to collapse Dickinson, to make Dickinson about the same size as Bowman, New England, Belfield, Beach, Killdeer, Richardton, Taylor, Dodge, or Halliday.

With Dickinson being just a small-town gas stop on the interstate, it will merit only minimal funding from the State, and only minimal political influence.  At the same time, whatever oil and gas production that is occurring in western North Dakota, this oil and gas revenue won’t be going to Dickinson with its small population, it can go to fund projects in the more civilized areas of Fargo, Bismarck, Jamestown, and Grand Forks.

So what does this mean to the ordinary, plain people living in Dickinson?  It means that Dickinson is going to get smaller, and smaller, and smaller, to where it eventually looks similar to New England, Bowman, or Belfield.

This is not just due to the oil boom going away, the entire rest of the state, the bankers, the highest level politicians in the State, the Governor, they don’t want State funding to go to this area, and they want the oil and gas revenue money from this area to go elsewhere, not here.

When Dickinson shrinks to a small size, the people in this area become poor, and the property here becomes very cheap, it is certain that the bankers and the wealthy people in the eastern side of the State will buy up the land and mineral rights, and promote drilling and fracking in this area, which is one of their long term plans.  To financially ruin this area, so that they can then plunder this area for its resources.

The Truth About What Is Going To Happen To Dickinson, North Dakota

It is tiring, frustrating, and upsetting to me, to continue to see people in Dickinson refusing to recognize and acknowledge what is going to happen to Dickinson, North Dakota.  I don’t want to see anyone being taken advantage of, and that is the way that I look at what people are attempting to do in Dickinson, to deceive others for financial gain.

Why can’t everyone just accept and admit, that Dickinson already experienced an oil boom in the 1950s and the late 1970s, and that after each of these oil booms Dickinson experienced a contraction in the economy, many people losing high paying jobs, businesses closing, people moving away, property decreasing in value and becoming difficult to sell.  This most recent oil boom ended in 2015, there will be a continued decrease in the population of Dickinson, but no one will admit this, and everyone is pretending that this isn’t going to happen.

The very wealthy owners of the local banks in Dickinson, most of whom do not live in Dickinson, have already put in place lending policies that show that they understand what is going to happen in Dickinson: many people losing their jobs, many people moving away, properties decreasing in value, and properties becoming difficult to sell.  I will give three brief example of these local bank lending policies:

I wanted to purchase a manufactured home in Belfield on its own 75’x140′ lot that was for sale for $20,000 to $25,000.  This treed and grass corner lot with water, sewer, and electric to it was probably worth $20K, without even considering the 3br, 1ba fully furnished home in good condition with new siding, added enclosed porch, and added open deck.  I contacted five local banks, and each one of them said that they had been instructed to not make any loans on manufactured homes, no matter how much land was involved.

A neighbor of mine who is 53 years old, wanted to purchase a home in our neighborhood that was for sale for $130,000.  This neighbor had made about $45,000 per year for the past eight years with his current employer.  He is single, and he had just finished paying about $900 per month in child support for the past fifteen years.  If he continued to allocate this $900 per month toward house payments, he could have paid off this house mortgage in fifteen years.  The bank told him no, as if his income and eight year job history at the same company in Dickinson didn’t mean anything, like they were expecting him to lose his job and not be able to get another job.

Another neighbor of mine who is in his forties and single, he has made about $42,000 per year for the past four years with his current employer.  He wanted to buy a house, so he completed a mortgage application with a local bank.  The bank approved him for a mortgage of up to $80,000.  If you go on the internet and use a mortgage calculator, this $80,000 mortgage would have a monthly payment of less than $400 per month.  With a single man having a take-home pay after taxes of $2,700 per month, why would the bank calculate that he could only afford $400 per month on housing?  It’s like the bank didn’t expect him to keep his job, or be able to get another job.

From the three examples above, the local bank lending policies indicate that they don’t expect local people to keep their job, be able to get another job, and the banks don’t want to foreclose on properties in order to sell them to recover the unpaid balance on loans, because these properties will not be worth the unpaid loan amount, and these properties will not sell.

There are people and groups in Dickinson that like to talk about how Dickinson is growing, which isn’t going to happen the way that they say it is.  Dickinson is going to shrink and contract for at least the next several years.  I am tired of hearing about several specific examples of growth and prosperity in Dickinson, which in my opinion, these examples are hoaxes, as they aren’t going to happen any time soon:  the Davis Refinery, the Odyssey Theaters Cinema Complex, and the Dickinson Hills Shopping Center.

I have written about, and explained the proposed Davis Refinery west of Belfield twice before.  The original proposed cost of the Davis Refinery was $900 million, twice the cost of the Dakota Prairie Refinery west of Dickinson which was built by the huge utility company Montana Dakota Utilities.  How was the proposed $900 million Davis Refinery going to be built, by an investor group who had never built a refinery before, who were in fact seeking initial investments to help cover the cost of permitting and planning?  My personal opinion is that the proposed Davis Refinery developers have only raised $10 million to $40 million.

A year or two ago the City of Dickinson sold a public parking lot located behind the U.S. Post Office to Odyssey Theaters, supposedly so that they could build an 8 cinema movie theater complex.  Most people in Dickinson have noticed that there is a shortage of parking downtown, even more so now that the City of Dickinson sold a public parking lot that was almost always full.  Where are the customers of this proposed 8 cinema movie theater complex going to park?  Construction was supposed to start this Spring, meaning now, but I don’t think that construction will start this year.

The developers of the proposed Dickinson Hills Shopping Center asked the City of Dickinson about a year ago if the City would pay for the extension of Fairway Street into their development.  The City agreed to pay for this $1.3 million road extension if the developers could show that they had lease commitments from tenants.  A few months ago the City Attorney Jan Murtha did look over signed lease agreements from Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx, Shoe Department Encore, and Dollar Tree.  My opinion, is that although these four tenants signed valid lease agreements, there was no penalty to the developer if they did not move forward with construction.  My opinion, is that the developer wanted the access road into their proposed development, so that they could sell this property, and not move forward with construction at this time.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, his Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and Wayne’s cousin Stephen Stenehjem CEO and president of First International Bank & Trust, have all had to deal with embarrassing business fiascoes in Dickinson many times in the past several years:  Dickinson State University awarding degrees to foreign students who did not complete the required curriculum;  the DSU Foundation having to be dissolved and held in receivership to determine what was going on and where the money went;  Hawks Point Assisted Living Facility on the DSU campus failing to repay their loan from First International Bank & Trust;  DSU and the DSU Foundation failing to repay their loans for the construction of the Biesiot Activities Center.

People in Fargo and Bismarck are very aware of the business practices and outcomes in Dickinson, North Dakota.  The Catholics collected and spent over $75 million in Federal grant money and donations to construct a new hospital in Dickinson, shutting down the old hospital.  Many knowledgeable health care employees and residents in Dickinson came to realize that the old hospital that was shut down, had more emergency medical care capabilities, more critical care capabilities, more medical treatment services, and a building with a basement that could withstand a tornado.

Therefore, when a group business people and Dickinson State University people got together and created the Theodore Roosevelt Foundation in order to raise funding to build a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Dickinson, the Governor of North Dakota stepped in and stopped that, No Way.  The people in Fargo and Bismarck are fully aware of how the people in Dickinson are.  No way were they going to allow a group of people in Dickinson to collect millions in government grants and donations, obtain construction loans, overpay contractor buddies to perform work, get a substandard inadequate facility, not repay the construction loans, and not be able to account for where all of the money went.

It’s not just the business practices in Dickinson that the rest of the state takes notice of, it’s how the people in Dickinson behave and treat other people.  This is another reason why the Governor of North Dakota intervened to not allow the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum to be built in Dickinson, because of how the visitors would be treated in Dickinson and how the people behave in Dickinson.  Here are some examples:

  • During the oil boom, the people in Dickinson quadrupled the rent that they charged the out-of-state workers.
  • During the oil boom, the people in Dickinson voted to not allow “Man Camp” temporary worker housing in the county to alleviate the housing shortage.
  • Though many, many people in Dickinson received windfall sums of money from oil wells on their property, the people in Dickinson deliberately refused to construct a homeless shelter.  Out-of-state workers who could not afford the quadrupled rent, slept in their cars, underneath bridges, in the bushes along the railroad tracks, on the embankments of drainage ditches, or outside behind the truck stop.
  • When the ratio of men to women in Dickinson was 3:1, the Dickinson Police made a fake advertisement for a woman offering sex on the internet. When a man called to arrange to meet her, the fake woman made up the statement that she was under 18.  The Dickinson Police then tried to charge the man with Commercial Sex Traffic of a Minor, a twenty year sentence, and he never even met the woman.
  • The bars and restaurants in Dickinson hire methamphetamine addict and heroin addict criminal women from Spokane, Seattle, and Coeur D’Alene to work as servers, performing no background checks.
  • The employers in Dickinson hire drug addict felons with multiple convictions, performing no or inadequate background checks.

Because of the end of the oil boom, the population of Dickinson will continue to decrease for years to come.  The people in Dickinson refuse to acknowledge this, and they even point to signs of growth which are actually hoaxes, that will not happen.  The very wealthy successful people like the local bank owners know what is going to happen in Dickinson, and they have practices in place that indicate they expect an out migration.

The Governor of North Dakota, the Attorney General of North Dakota, other wealthy successful people in North Dakota know all about the business practices in Dickinson, the business schemes of the people in Dickinson, what they do with government grant money and donations, how they don’t repay loans, how they are unaccountable for money, how the people in Dickinson treat other people, and how the people in Dickinson behave.  Not only did they intervene to prevent the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum from being built in Dickinson, they wanted to close down the Women’s Correctional Facility in New England, and they will probably seek the closure of Dickinson State University before long.

In the near future, Dickinson will begin to change more toward what New England, Belfield, and Richardton are like.  You don’t understand, this is what the wealthy, successful, influential people in Bismarck and Fargo want.  They do not want Dickinson to grow, they want Dickinson to shrink.  Not only do they not like Dickinson, and do not believe in Dickinson, they don’t want the oil revenue money from western North Dakota being wasted on improving Dickinson.  As far as they are concerned, they would like to see Dickinson as just unimproved grassland, and all of you Dickinson people gone, because you just can’t seem to change and get with the program, you remain backwards.

I Wish That I Could Force You To Understand Dickinson, North Dakota

I have been writing about Dickinson, North Dakota on this blog website for a little over four years now.  For those of you who don’t know why I started writing about Dickinson, it was because Dickinson, Williston, and Minot, North Dakota were the towns in the middle of the Oil Boom in North Dakota that occurred from 2007 through 2014, and I was living in Dickinson.

During the Oil Boom years, there was a great amount of chaos, confusion, development, excitement, optimism, hype, misinformation, and people being taken advantage of.  For those of you who don’t remember, have forgotten, or never knew what happened from 2007 through 2014 in Dickinson, here is a short synopsis:

Most people did not know that 2007 through 2014 was North Dakota’s third Oil Boom.  There was an oil discovery boom in the 1950s, and there was an oil market shortage boom in the late 1970s.  Dickinson had experienced an influx of oil field workers and oil companies before, in the 1950s, and the 1970s.  Well-informed people, well-educated people, and intelligent business people in Dickinson knew from past experience that these Oil Booms last about seven years, that’s why they are called a “Boom” in the first place.

However, even though there were very wealthy people, moderately wealthy people, influential people, politicians, elected representatives, large land owners, and community leaders in Dickinson who all knew from the previous two Oil Booms in North Dakota, that these Oil Booms last for about seven years, rather than trying to manage this Oil Boom in the most effective way for everyone, they either tried to benefit personally at the expense and suffering of others, or they did nothing to stop the taking advantage and suffering of others.

For those of you who were not here, or do not know what I am talking about when I write about the taking advantage of others and the suffering of others, I will explain:

All over the United States, television, radio, newspaper, and magazine media frequently announced that everyone working in North Dakota was making over $100,000 per year due to the Oil Boom.  This was not true at all, the average wage rate in western North Dakota was about $15 per hour at the time.

Believing that they were going to make $100,000 per year in North Dakota like they heard about, people who were struggling financially, or who were broke, used the very last money that they had to travel to Dickinson or Williston.  When they got here, one-bedroom apartments that had once rented for $300 per month, were now $1,500 per month.  With $3,000 due at lease signing for first month’s rent and security deposit, for the cheapest apartments available, most people could not afford a place to live.

Though business was booming in Dickinson, and many wealthy people were becoming even wealthier, there was deliberately and intentionally no homeless shelter in Dickinson.  The people who had been lured to North Dakota by the announcements that everyone was making $100,000 per year, ended up sleeping in their cars in the parking lot of WalMart or the Tiger Truck Stop.  Or, if they arrived in Dickinson by bus or by hitch hiking, they slept under bridges, in the bushes at Patterson Lake, or in the bushes behind businesses.  In the winter, it gets down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit in Dickinson.

When quick, short-term housing solutions, such as the permitting of temporary housing called “man-camps” were proposed, the building permits were denied, due to citizens of Dickinson supposedly fearing “rape” from all the men.  However, the permits for many, many large apartment complexes were approved, even though the occupants would be the same men who would have lived in the man-camps, who were feared for “rape”, but apparently not if they paid $2,000 per month rent for a new apartment.

During the Oil Boom of 2007 through 2014, I witnessed many, many people arriving in Dickinson who were financially broke, who had been lured here by television, radio, newspaper, and magazine announcements about everyone making $100,000 per year in North Dakota.  This was not true, even after living in Dickinson for six years, I have only ever personally met about three or four people who made $100,000 for even one year, working in the oil field.

One of the very first things that I tried to do when I started this blog website four years ago, was to try to get the information out there, that most people were not making $100,000 per year in North Dakota or the oil field, that this was a lie.  I tried to explain what the employment situation was really like.  I tried to explain that only young men between the ages of 18 to 30 years old, who were able-bodied, in good physical condition, with no physical defect, would even be considered to start out working on an oil drill rig, where they would work 12 hours per day, for fourteen days in a row, at about $23 per hour, and make nearly $100,000 per year.

I tried to explain in my blog posts that the vast majority of the job openings in North Dakota were not on an oil drill rig, some were in the oil field, what these other oil field jobs were, what skills and abilities these other oil field jobs required, what it would be like working in the oil field, and what other jobs there were in Dickinson.

I also wrote blog posts explaining that there was a shortage of housing in Dickinson, and that housing was very expensive.  I tried to counter what the television, radio, newspapers, magazines, Chamber of Commerce, North Dakota Job Services, business owners, and politicians were saying in order to try to get people from all over the United States to move to Dickinson or Williston, not knowing what they would be getting into.

During the Oil Boom, I had jobs where I was paid $12 per hour, $15 per hour, $16 per hour, $17, $18, $19, and $20 per hour.  But I had a college degree in engineering, management experience, experience operating heavy equipment, experience in construction, experience in heavy mechanical equipment assembly, and I was able-bodied.  From what I saw, from the people that I worked with, and my experience living in Dickinson, the average hourly wage was about $15 during the Oil Boom.

There were times when the local WalMart paid $15 per hour.  But many businesses paid less than $15 per hour for store clerks, front desk people, customer service people, retail workers, fast food workers, restaurant workers, drivers, general laborers, caregivers, and many other jobs.  For instance, the TSA at the Dickinson airport paid officers $14 per hour.

At the same time that the average hourly wage in Dickinson was about $15 per hour, some of the cheapest old one-bedroom apartments rented for $1,500 per month.  If a person worked for 50 hours each week at $15 per hour, with overtime pay that comes out to about $820 per week before taxes, about $700 per week after taxes, and a take home pay of about $2,800 per month.

Starting out with a take home pay of $2,800 per month, and subtracting rent $1,500; utilities $150; cell phone $50; car insurance $100; car payment $200; fuel $150; leaves $650 left over for the entire month for food, clothing, and everything else.  That’s less than $20 per day that you could spend on food.  What if you had a child, a medical emergency, or a major car repair?

I wondered, and I wrote about, what kind of people would double, triple, and quadruple the rent and housing prices in order to gouge and take advantage of the out-of-state workers who came to Dickinson, many of whom were struggling financially to begin with or were completely broke?

You need to know and keep in mind, that outside of Dickinson there is more vacant, barren, flat, undeveloped land than almost anywhere else in the United States.  There is no scarcity of land to build on. The land outside of Dickinson is almost as vacant as the deserts of Arizona, Nevada, or Utah.  Though the land outside of Dickinson is not as dry as the desert, it is very, very cold in North Dakota from October through April, that’s seven months out of the year, and this is one of the reasons why there are less than one million people living in the entire state of North Dakota.

With such an abundance of vacant, barren, undeveloped land, why were the rent prices in Dickinson and Williston higher than any place else in the United States, higher than even New York City and San Francisco?  The local people liked to say that it was a matter of supply and demand, low supply of housing, and a high demand for housing.  But like I just got done explaining, there is more vacant, barren, undeveloped land outside of Dickinson, than almost any place else in the United States.

Keep in mind, that the well-informed people, well-educated people, the intelligent business people, the wealthy people, and the large land owners in Dickinson knew about the oil discovery boom in the 1950s, and the oil market shortage boom in the 1970s that occurred in North Dakota.  They knew from these previous two Oil Booms, about all the workers and oil companies that come to North Dakota during the Oil Booms.

The doubling, tripling, and quadrupling of the rent and housing prices that occurred in Dickinson, was not merely a matter of supply and demand.  There was more to it than that.  If you have foreknowledge that something is going to occur, where people will experience a scarcity or lack of some necessity, and you seek to take advantage of this scarcity, and even take steps to keep this scarcity from being alleviated so that you can personally benefit financially, you are unethically taking advantage and gouging other people.  I will give a couple of examples for you to think about:

When a hurricane was approaching the east coast of the United States, and everyone needed to prepare for an emergency, some businesses used to sharply increase the price of fuel, drinking water, plywood, generators, and other emergency supplies.  Do you know that this practice is now illegal, and that business owners are now criminally prosecuted for this?

What if you and your business associates created or helped form a retirement community in Nevada, an isolated community consisting of modest, inexpensive, single-wide manufactured homes on 50 ft. x 100 ft. lots, for sale for about $50,000.  Once each of these modest manufactured homes had been sold, what if you doubled, tripled, and quadrupled the price that you charged for water, knowing that there was no other water service available, and that the cost to drill a well would be about $20,000, which these low-income residents would be unable to afford?

Just because someone can see a way to take advantage of and gouge other people on the price of a necessity that they will need, this in no way means that this is ethical, moral, or even legal.

What was actually going on in Dickinson and Williston, was that the wealthy people, the business owners, the property owners, elected representatives, politicians, community leaders, spokespeople for the oil industry, and spokespeople for the North Dakota Job Services continued to perpetuate the lie that everyone who moved to North Dakota for work was making $100,000 per year, even though they knew that this was not true, that they would make much less money than this, and that more than half of their pay would be spent on housing because they had quadrupled the price of housing in North Dakota.

The reasons for spreading this lie all over the United States and luring people to North Dakota were:

  • To bring as many people as possible to the state to be able to rent, lease, and sell all property available.
  • To bring as many people as possible to the state to occupy or buy all property available, to cause a shortage, and be able to greatly increase rents, leases, and property prices.
  • To cause the need, the requirement, or the perception, that there needed to be new apartments constructed, new housing constructed, new retail stores constructed, new grocery stores, new schools, new hospitals, and new infrastructure like water towers and roads.
  • To lure property developers and business entrepreneurs to the state build developments and start new businesses.
  • To bring customers to the state to increase business and sales.
  • To greatly increase tax revenue to the state in sales tax, personal income tax, and property tax revenue.
  • To bring a surplus of workers to the state to try to keep wages low.

After writing about all of this for four years, I realized or discovered several surprising, sinister schemes.  What is even more surprising, and kind of funny, is that most of the people who sought to take advantage of others and be predatory, have been set up for financial ruin, and they don’t even know it yet.  I will explain.

The ordinary people in Dickinson, whether local people or from out-of-state, each of them are aware of only a fraction of what is going on.  They are often very susceptible to lies and misinformation, their circumstances in life change greatly when their rent is increased, their hourly wage rate is increased, or they lose their job.  They are practically slaves or livestock, and they don’t even know it.  They were likely to parrot the phrases that they were taught, such as “This Oil Boom is going to last for the next 20 years”, and then later “The Oil Boom is coming back” or the ever perpetual phrase “Things are starting to pick up again.”

The business people, business owners, property owners, property developers, elected representatives, Chambers of Commerce, oil industry spokespeople, and North Dakota government agency spokespeople, were or are, kind of like the herders, shepherds, shearers, fleecers, milkers, and egg gatherers of the ordinary people, who are like slaves or livestock.

The business people, business owners, property owners, property developers, elected representatives, Chambers of Commerce, oil industry spokespeople, and North Dakota government agency spokespeople thought that they were all in agreement, all with the same program, of continuing to encourage people to move to North Dakota because it accomplishes their goals of having customers, making sales, having properties rented or leased, having properties sell, keeping property values high, and keeping tax revenue coming in.  So they all keep making announcements that there are thousands of high paying job vacancies in the oil field of North Dakota, even though there aren’t.

But when I, and several of my friends were unable to get home loans from banks in Dickinson recently, I discovered something odd.  Eventually I realized that there is an entirely different plan in place, that is unknown to 99.95% of the people in Dickinson.  The wealthiest 0.05% of the people in Dickinson, which includes the local Bank owners, have a completely different plan.

Despite what the business owners, property owners, property developers, Chambers of Commerce, oil industry spokespeople, and North Dakota government spokespeople are saying about the thousands of high paying job vacancies in the oil field in North Dakota currently, in order to try to keep the economy going, the Bank owners and the wealthiest 0.05% are preparing for an economic collapse.

When I and several of my friends were denied home loans recently by Banks, even though our income was sufficient to make the mortgage payments, and we had each been at our present jobs for more than four years, it was like the Banks were saying, “Even though you currently earn enough money to make the mortgage payments, and you have been at your present job for more than four years, we don’t believe that you will keep your job, or be able to get another job in Dickinson, and we don’t want to foreclose on a property that will be worth much, much less than your mortgage with the bank.”  In other words, the Banks are preparing for an economic collapse in Dickinson, where many people will lose their job, be unable to get another job, and property values will fall.

I began to realize that what the Bank owners know, what the wealthiest 0.05% of North Dakotans knew all along, was that these Oil Booms in North Dakota last about seven years.  You can make money on the way up, you can rent properties, lease properties, sell properties, build some properties and sell them, but you need to sell or hold during the way up, don’t buy anything, unless it is very early on.  The real money to be made, is when the economic collapse comes, then you can buy businesses, equipment, buildings, houses, and properties for 10% of what they cost.

The funny thing is, that the business people, business owners, property owners, property developers, Chambers of Commerce, oil industry spokespeople, and North Dakota government spokespeople, all believed that they had the same goal, were on the same page about growth, and keeping the economy going, when all along the wealthiest 0.05% of North Dakotans were just eagerly awaiting the economic collapse that was inevitable.

The business people, business owners, property owners, and property developers that were kind of the herders, shearers, fleecers, milkers, and egg gatherers of the ordinary working people, taking advantage of them and gouging them on rent, leases, and real estate, once the economy in Dickinson collapses, they will be broke or in a very bad financial position.  The wealthiest 0.05%, who knew this was coming years ago, have been waiting for this.

Business people, business owners, property owners, and property developers that once took advantage of other people, will then be taken advantage of.  Whatever they built, created, bought, or owned, they will end up losing it, and perhaps be paid 10% of what it cost them.