The only people I know in the oil business are the Ewing family, whom I watch on the hit TV show "Dallas" every Friday night. As soon as I heard the news that President Reagan had deregulated oil and was going to deregulate natural gas, I called J.R., the president of Ewing Oil, to congratulate him.
"I know I'm going to have to tighten my belt," I told J.R. "But I'm happen for you. This could mean millions of dollars for Ewing Oil."
"Let's say we won't have to apply for food stamps."
"Are you going to use the profits to drill for new oil?" I asked him.
"No, we're just going to start selling oil that we had capped until the deregulations went into effect. There was no sense selling it while the controls were on."
"I thought the idea of deregulating oil was to encourage new drilling so we would become independent of overseas imports."
"That might have been the idea, but we don't want to glut the market or the price of oil will come down. We can't have that."
"I should hope not," I said. "How much do you think it's going to cost us at the pump?"
"Maybe 10 or 20 cents a gallon more. I have to talk it over with the boys at the Petroleum Club. We don't want to get into a price war or we'll cut each other's throats."
"Americans would hate to see you people do that," I said. "Do you think the deregulations will encourage more people to look for oil?"
"It's hard to say. Daddy is going into real estate, and my brother Bobby wants to invest in solar energy. I need money to keep all the women I've been chasing happy. So I don't know how much we'll have left for drilling."
"You'll have plenty. We've been paying through the nose for oil ever since they deregulated it. You should see our fuel bills here in the East."
"The Ewing family is aware of the burden the average person is facing. We talked about it last night at dinner."
"What conclusion did you come to?"
"It was none of our business."
"I guess with natural gas deregulation you people will really make a potful of money."
"It will help get us through the winter," J. R. said. "But don't forget President Reagan said our 1960 dollar is only worth 36 cents now, so Ewing Oil can't just sit back and rake in the money. We have to think of what we're going to do about inflation."
"Have you come up with any good ideas?"
"We're going to live within our means."
"You're not going to give up your helicopter, are you?"
"No, we don't have to do that. But I told my brother Bobby he can only have one Mercedes Benz at a time."
"I'll bet he didn't like it."
"Well, as President Reagan said on television, you don't tell a kid you don't have any money -- you just cut his allowance."
"What I don't understand, J.R., is that if you people can charge anything you want for oil and gas, how is that going to cure inflation?"
"It will cause people to conserve and that should bring the cost of fuel down because it will make the marketplace more competitive."
"But that would be terrible for you. What will you do then?" I asked him.
"We'll just put caps on our wells until the price goes up again."