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We need more self-made businessmen

Harold Hamm is a self-made billionaire.
But don't take my word for it. This is according to Forbes.
 Mr. Hamm is the 33rd wealthiest person in the United States. Forbes calls Mr. Hamm a "self-made" billionaire who attained his $12.4 billion fortune in the oil and gas industries.
Mr. Hamm was born in Lexington, Oklahoma, U.S.A., the 13th and youngest child of Oklahoma cotton sharecroppers. His mother died before he graduated from high school. By 17 years of age, Hamm was already working 50 hours a week.
According to his Wikipedia profile (, Mr. Hamm is the chairman and chief executive officer of the oil-exploration company Continental Resources, Oklahoma's fourth-largest public company.
He worked his way up from pumping gas and fixing cars to become CEO of his own billion-dollar company.
"Harold Hamm has been the CEO of Continental Resources since 1967, when the company was called Shelly Dean Oil Company. Hamm and Continental Resources have been instrumental in developing the Bakken Oil Field in Montana and North Dakota."
The son of Oklahoma Democrats, Mr. Hamm served as an energy adviser to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign in March 2012. He also donated roughly $1 million to the pro-Romney super PAC "Restore Our Future."
Mr. Hamm knows a thing or two about energy – and our nation's dependence on it. He also knows a thing or two about hard work, having traveled throughout Oklahoma and Texas in the late 1940s and 1950s and picking cotton with his family.
National Review Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger wrote about Harold Hamm in the magazine's Oct. 28, 2013 cover story, entitled "An American Story: The rise of Harold Hamm, Algeresque oilman."
Nordlinger writes (see: "Harold Hamm is a major oilman, the biggest in the United States. He’s also a significant contributor to our national debate over energy policy. But beyond those things, he’s an amazing story. Horatio Alger would blush to include him in one of his novels.
"Hamm was born the 13th and last child of sharecroppers in Oklahoma. Today, according to Forbes magazine, he’s the 90th-richest person in the world. (Remember, there are more than 7 billion of us.) Even foes of oil, and of capitalism generally, must smile a little, if only inwardly."
Alger, you may remember, was a 19th century American author, whose novels were infused with the message that good, hard, honest work can overcome poverty.
What an unconventional concept in 2013!
Gratuitous sarcasm aside, a few of us old-timers in the world of
private-sector business appreciate the Alger idea and, moreover, we appreciate the occasional super-success stories of people like Harold Hamm.
Toward the end of his interesting essay on Hamm, Nordlinger writes:
"A terrible question sits on many minds today, especially Republican minds: Is the country going down the tubes?"
Mr. Hamm replies in both the affirmative and the negative. In other words, yes and no.
"We will not go down the tubes if we have real leadership in all the places we need it. It is urgently needed in the Oval Office. We could use a strong dose of executive leadership."
Nordlinger continues, "For all his concerns, Hamm is essentially an American optimist. 'This country is so good. We have so many positive things going on here.'
"(Mr. Hamm) believes that there are still opportunities, still openings for entrepreneurs, for dreamers, for those willing to work and dare. Government may get in their way, more than it has in the past; but they can work around it."
In spite of government bureaucracy – and certainly not because of government bureaucracy – we still have businessmen like Harold Hamm. Let's be glad we do.
For any Washington politician (or president) to suggest to Mr. Hamm, "You didn't build that," it's painfully obvious to those who prefer truth to power, that the Oklahoma oilman did, in fact, build his own empire.
We should be thankful to live in a nation where he had that opportunity. Let's hope we do not lose that opportunity due to increasingly extortionate federal obstacles.

Rory Ryan is Senior Editor, North American Desk, at Paperitalo Publications and the owner of The Highland County Press in Hillsboro, Ohio. He can be reached by email at or

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