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Post details: Whose Earth Is It Anyway

Whose Earth Is It Anyway

One would imagine that mineral resources of any given country belong to its citizens. That is what Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd must have been thinking when he'd proposed a supertax on all mining companies doing business down under.

I agreed wholeheartedly. That is how countries should protect their natural wealth. I have no problem with corporations making money off of their own ingenuity, whether it is Intel, Apple, or your favorite teen apparel outfit. But if all they can do is to bulldoze a layer of groovy rocks and haul them away in monster trucks - then extra taxes should be imposed as a way of sharing the profits with the people of the land who the groovy rocks belong to in the first place. To mine what is not theirs without proper compensation is just an act of thievery. Not to mention a breeding ground for rampant corruption. What overworked government official has guts and spine to withstand the appeal of a thickly stuffed envelope exchanged discreetly for the keys to the country's riches.

Ideally, the extra taxes would allow states to build highways, bridges, child care centers, hospitals and other facilities which all people could then use as a payback for having their land mildly exploited. But life is hardly ever ideal. Money talks loud and clear and often with a bullhorn. Political clout of corporations is larger than the Ayers Rock these days. Kevin Rudd was ousted faster than you could say "kangaroo" and Australia dropped the plans for the proposed supertax like a hot potato. The wizards of Oz could go back to business as usual.

The recent Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico highlighted another ugly side of the corporate hegemony over our natural resources. The lack of responsibility. Extraction of any substance from the ground poses ecological hazards and encroaches upon people's right to freely enjoy their land. Accidents do occur, but some safeguards need to be put in place, so that nature as we know it does not get sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed. Increasing the liability limits for oil companies like BP would be a good start. Otherwise it will be too easy for them to weasel out of their obligations, thanks to the well trained army of lawyers, lobbyists, PR specialists and other well oiled mercenaries.

Ever since our elected representatives tasted sweet milk from the big business teats, people have been losing their battle against incorporated leviathans on all fronts. If we don't want to end up merely subsisting on a slice of scorched wasteland in some post-orwellian nightmare, this would be a good time to take a stand and consider the bigger picture. How on Earth are we going to manage the unique environment of this planet? Are we going to plunder it for the lucre of a few hoggish multinationals or are we going to take proper care of it and preserve it for those who will inherit it from us. Wholesale recycling and green energy, however expensive, should get on the political agenda as soon as possible. The controversial supertax could help offset the associated costs.

I am sure our grandchildren will appreciate it if we leave them some fertile soil to plant crops in, reasonably clean rivers and lakes, deep forests and jungles, and maybe even a wild meadow here and there, rather than countless industrial graveyards dotted with depleted oil fields and abandoned strip mines. Even hundred years from now, they will enjoy the view of wild ferns cascading down a mountain slope under the canopy of hoary trees. And if it means slightly higher prices of copper or iron, so be it.

Don't quarry, be happy.



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