This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor.
With the price of oil hanging right around $65 a barrel there are plenty of people around the country who are ready to cry uncle. Driving a car gets more expensive by the day. And if you're one of those long distance commuters, well you have my sympathies
The folks I've been thinking about though are in the oil patch. I lived in the west during the oil boom days of the late 70's and early 80's when it seemed like everybody was speculating in the oil business. Eddie Chiles used to run a commercial: "Don't have an oil well? Get one."
Back then money just poured out of the ground. And people spent it, a lot of it. By the mid 80's the boom had gone bust. In the Sabine Pass on the Gulf of Mexico the offshore rigs were stacked up like tinker toys. One pawn shop set up a drive in window so you could pawn your Rolex and not get out of the car.
So I did a little calling around today to check on the oil patch and as you might guess, no one is suffering. Qualified oil field jobs sit begging to be filled. Home sales in Odessa are better than ever. The head of the chamber of commerce in Midland describes his economy as robust.
Jim Forman from the BMW store in Odessa says he can feel it coming, though it's not quite there yet. His banker friends have said a couple of guys are looking at airplanes, some are buying real estate. Jim thinks maybe they're too busy working to spend their money, but it's coming. Yeah, it's coming.
Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many across the country.
By Harry Smith
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.