Howdy friends and neighbors. I guess I'm going to attempt to describe wealth in this little article. Of coarse, if you tape a quarter to this article, it would be worth about 24 and a half cents, minus the cost of the tape. But, I will give you my take on it from the blowing sands of Sunnypoint, Okla., anyhow.

Here in the great state of Oklahoma, the elected ones are scratching their heads wondering what to do about a huge budget shortfall this year. No, it's not due to a lagging lottery or shrinking revenues from casinos that were promised to be the next savior of the treasury after horse racing and liquor by the drink didn't provide windfalls. It's simply lower commodity prices that put the squeeze on the state coffers. Let me repeat, it is lower natural gas, crude oil, wheat, cattle, cotton, corn, soybean, peanut and lumber prices that directly affect the ability to generate wealth in this state. Think about this for a second with me. The only way to generate wealth is to mine it, grow it, pump it or capture it from the earth. Of course mining and pumping minerals from the ground is finite, but plentiful. The others can easily be sustainable.

The oil and gas industry creates wealth by converting an energy mineral into a consumable product. Agriculture simply creates wealth by taking sun, soil and water and substantially converting them into consumable products (food, fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals). And then hydropower, geo-thermal and recently wind turbines substantially convert earthly events into consumable products and create wealth. All the above-mentioned means basically take matter and energy, along with the American sprit of ideas, and convert them into goods that others can consume or add value to and then consume. These folks simply make something out of nothing and turn it into money!

Now, what do a bunch of farmers, ranchers, roughnecks, company men, lineman, plant operators, miners and lumberjacks, do with all the money they just created? They buy stuff. Some of the things they buy are their notes back at the bank. Thus more money is generated by interest. Interest pays the salaries at banks and those people need to buy stuff. Health care is needed for bankers that loan too much money to wildcatters and eternally optimistic ranchers. Thus, doctors, nurses and hospitals are needed and they earn money and then they buy stuff. They all buy cars, candy bars, movie tickets, weed eaters, washing machines and Sham-wows. They need barbers, accountants, teachers, truck drivers, dog catchers, preachers and even as bad as I hate to say it, lawyers and septic tank pumpers. (No offense intended to the septic guys.) No, I don't mean that, we need good lawyers to protect us from the bad ones and the politicians who tax everything that moves. Ouch, I just keep digging myself into a hole. But we need the politicians to provide us infrastructure, security and good laws that lawyers can use to protect us as we create wealth.

I get so mad when the politicians point their greedy fingers at agriculture, oil and gas companies, coal miners and lumberjacks and blame us for problems they made up, like global warming, while consuming cheap fuel driving (or flying) all with a full stomach as they head to their second home made of wood that has a copper wire energized with excited electrons from a coal fired plant. There, they can have a summit to try to figure out how to restart the economy and tax the life out of those evil wealth generators. If you keep biting the hand that feeds you, someday, the hand will just disappear.

I have heard a few times now, questions asked of our state leaders about how much "stimulus money" Oklahoma will receive. No one knows for sure but I bet the quarter taped to this article that a timely, general soaking rain, $7 wheat, $1.20 cattle, and $9 natural gas would fill the state coffers faster than any D.C. stimulus plan could ever promise.

I'm Monte Tucker, and that is what's under my cowboy hat, simply and substantially converting God-given natural resources into consumable products!

Monte Tucker is a farmer and rancher in Oklahoma who writes a weekly column for a couple small town newspapers.