The Louisiana State Capitol. (Philip Kiefer/The Lens)

Editor’s note: This is a satirical piece written in the voice of the fictional Colonel Maynard Wellworthy, president of the fictional Stonewall Oil and Gas Association. 

I am president of the Stonewall Oil and Gas Association.  You may recognize me from my many mellifluous and meticulously reasoned op-eds extolling the ideal constants of the free market and the oil industry.  So, as you may imagine, my head literally erupted into a white-hot boil of moral outrage when President Biden issued a moratorium on new drilling leases on federal land for an eternity of 60 days to “allow the administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program.”  Nothing fries my cracklin’ more than woke, socialist libs thinking about policy.  Faith in the market and oil is all we need.  

I am a supreme thinker.  When it comes to intellectual cerebration, I would rank myself the equal of a John C. Calhoun or — forgive my audacity —  perhaps even a Rep. Clay Higgins.  While I’m assiduous in my logic, my sublime meditative organ continually alights upon only one conclusion: action!  I am nothing if not a man of action. Action for its own sake, I say! 

Now, I have set my magnificent mind-palace against this war of environmentalist aggression on the petrochemical industry. My cognitive machinery has divined the only solution to Louisiana’s woes.  We all believe that government should be “run like a business.”  Well it’s time to go one step further.  We need business to run government! 

 There needs to be a consolidation of state and corporate power.  We should move immediately to dissolve the state legislature and replace it with a state board of directors and replace the governor with a State CEO.  Petrochemical CEOs could people this state board, and elect the state’s CEO, preferably a Company Executive Officer graced with a masculine jawline.  An oil company executive would be perfect for the executive branch of government for our new Louisiana Petro-State.  I humbly ask, who knows more about execution than the oil industry?  

The people of Louisiana need to wake up to the fact that our state is what it is today due to the free market and the oil industry. Among the 50 states, Louisiana is last in quality of life.  But that is only because the free market is shackled by the burden of supporting a government. With free-market-minded men in charge of our state, free market solutions are sure to follow.  

Our unwavering commitment to oil production and chemical refining has created a golden opportunity — a gift, of sorts — that Louisianans need to learn to appreciate: cancer.  My genius envisions a silver lining.  Because of our excellent cancer rate, Louisiana could be at the forefront of cancer research.  It’s an opportunity shimmering with the psychedelic splendor of an oil slick.  Where there is opportunity, the market’s diaphanous hand will surely grope it.  

I know cancer has gotten a bad rap in the lame-stream media; but if it were really a problem, wouldn’t Sen. Bill Cassidy, a medical doctor, propose legislation to curtail its spread?  He would have to be an abomination to his Hippocratic Oath if he stood feckless while citizens of his state were consumed alive by carcinoma.  Since that’s an impossibility, there’s nothing to be done about it.  

So, continued commitment to oil under the leadership of oil executives will, inextricably through the magic of the market, lead to breakthroughs in cancer research in our state. Rest assuredly that in the new Louisiana Petro-State, there may be new jobs created as cancer test subjects! But there aren’t any plans to make the research possible or to make the subsequent treatment affordable that I know of. However, with faith, we can move mountains or at least pretend they’ve moved.  

In the meantime, I must commend the citizens of our state, especially the essential citizens of Death Alley. They bear the brunt of our commitment to oil by making the sacrifices necessary for more than 150 chemical plants and refineries to make the sweet lucre that is the petrochemical corporation’s just reward.  So, the oil industry and I thank them for their essential and utterly involuntary service.

Now I’m fully aware that the Trump administration held a veritable fire sale on drilling leases before he was rooked out of office. Oil companies were mostly interested in drilling in the Permian Basin and Central California where they can frack. Drilling in the Gulf is inherently more expensive than fracking on land, which is why our drilling jobs have moved to Texas. That is why it is so important that we become the first, official Petro-Run State. 

Now, if there is one thing I hate, it’s godless socialism, which is why I vociferously extol the infallible virtues of the market.  But sometimes, the invisible hand needs a helping hand; and nothing glad-hands the free market more than wads of government cash. I mean cotton bales of the stuff!  If we convert our entire state budget of $36 billion into drilling subsidies for oil companies on top of the $649 billion in subsidies the U.S. government already gifts them every year, there is a reasonable chance they will drill in the Gulf again.  While many of our citizens will be cast into a phantasm of human depravity where they’ll succumb to their vilest instincts in the struggle to secure their basic human needs, Louisianans will hold their heads high knowing they have done the market’s bidding.  Of course they’re gonna have to hold their heads high eventually because of all the damn water.  But we may get some jobs out of it!  

In conclusion, I would like to be perfectly clear.  I want to see our entire state transformed into a magnificent beast. Louisiana would be a beast unified in a single, glorious purpose veined with pipelines and studded with Christmas tree valves with a giant catalytic cracker at its heart.  Our citizens could take pride in the fact that they are cells in that behemoth organism that breathes in human aspirations and exhales ethylene oxide.  Indeed, I ask who would not want to be an atom in that great, immense, living organization, the new Louisiana Petro-State?

About the author: Leo Lindner taught English composition for three years at Nicholls State University until the extravagant riches lavished upon him by the University of Louisiana System weighed on his conscious so heavily it encouraged him to take a position as a “mud engineer” in the oilfield. He worked on the Deepwater Horizon for 5 years with some of the finest people he will ever know. He is now retired and lives with his excellent wife, Sue.

The Opinion section is a community forum. Views expressed are not necessarily those of The Lens or its staff. To propose an idea for a column, contact Opinion Editor Amy Stelly at