Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Night Lights

The movie Friday Night Lights is about a oil town in west Texas that lives and dies by high school football. This is the case in many small towns in Texas which is why so many recruiters spend time going to these small towns games to find hidden talent (Colt McCoy). Oil is a very small part of this movie in fact the oil derricks shown throughout the movie may be the only time oil is referenced. The book does a better job of discussing the cycles of the oil economy which define this town. There are other subtle references such as all the for sale signs in the town and the sense of depression in the town. The kids and adults talk about football as if it is the only way to "get out of this town" because there are no opportunities left. In a town built on oil when the oil is gone a mass exodus of people follows and the people left in the town do not have any good options left.
This movie makes me think about what oil can do to a place. When oil is found, people will up and move their entire lives to follow it. It will make them a lot of money, as oil is doing today. Our University has an entire department devoted to drilling for oil and the highest salaries for mechanical engineers are found in the oil industry. Oil is also making entire countries wealthy. Oil pays for a large amount of the budget for Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and the list goes on. What happens when the oil in these countries runs dry? Will these small Texas towns be a blueprint for what happens in the Kingdom when the oil production starts to decline? Will the entire region be thrust into chaos when all of their money is pulled out from under them? The economy in these oil rich regions is not very diversified and the loss of oil production maymake these regions unstable. The current leaders can stay in power because they have money and are making money for the country. What happens when the cash flow is gone? Hopefully these countries will not follow the path of some failed oil boomtowns or even worse a country like Afghanistan.

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