“Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed.

A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed.

Then one day he was shootin’ at some food,

And up through the ground came a bubblin’ crude.

Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.”

Hopefully, you remember the rest of the introductory song to this classic “rags to riches” tale of the Clampett family. The CBS sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies ran from 1962 to 1971. Its popularity and humor originated from the contrast of a poor backwoods (western Missouri?) family living in Beverly Hills after patriarch, Jed discovered oil on their property back home. A money-obsessed president of the local bank, Mr. Drysdale and his assistant, Jane Hathaway did whatever necessary to keep their newest, large customer, Jed Clampett and his kinfolk happy. This forced their involvement in the many schemes of the characters in this unconventional family of “hillbillies.”  

Interestingly, CBS recently considered, but ended up scrapping, a plan to launch an updated version of the famous sitcom. Instead of mountain folk, the Clampetts were to be midwestern farmers. Of course, oil (i.e., fossil fuel) was to be replaced with a natural element that supported renewable energy. So, modern Jed would simply shoot and discover lithium (for EV batteries) on his property. 

Unfortunately, anti-gun and animal rights activists got their hands on a preliminary script and denounced Jed’s shooting his own gun to kill harmless animals on his property. They cited local regulations that would most likely not support a license to kill, butcher, and process meat of any kind. He was encouraged to continue using food stamps to grocery shop locally. Further, it was said his farmland, and the lithium he discovered would be too close to federally protected land, nearby rivers, and tributaries. Mining the lithium would most certainly pollute ground water – destroying both the livelihood and lives of neighboring farmers. In short, the new TV show’s producers learned the plot was no longer plausible. 

Apparently, Jed Clampett no longer has the property rights he (we all) once took for granted in the 1960’s and 70’s. If Jed wants to improve his and his family’s means, he must play the lottery like everyone else – with the bulk of lottery proceeds going back to the State as an alternative revenue source. 

What does a land rich, cash poor farmer in the Midwest do if he or she discovers valuable minerals on their farmland? What would you do?

Bernie Desmarais


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