FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Romney Lexicon

by KEVIN CARSON

As Thomas L. Knapp observes in a recent column, Mitt Romney — famous for complaining about the 47% who expect to be taken care of — “whined that the Obama administration has been insufficiently charitable with ‘public’ land (and taxpayer money) toward the oil companies.”

He notes that “for every dollar a timber company paid in leasing fees, the US government spent $1.27 on road-building and other projects to enable the exploitation of those timber leases.” The same applies to oil drilling in places like the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve: “the next time a natural resources extraction company offers to cover the entire cost of its own operations on ‘public’ land, let alone deliver a net profit to the US government on the deal, will be the first time.”

Extractive industries are among the biggest welfare queens in human history. Much — probably most — of the oil and mineral wealth of the planet is still in the hands of transnational corporate beneficiaries of centuries of colonial looting. Oil and mineral companies routinely use their pet states to politically guarantee access to mineral resources. Just look at the overthrow of Mossadeq in Iran — then read the Wikipedia article on BP. The politics of oil is the central factor in the slaughter of millions in the Congo, Zaire, and Angola since WWII. The same goes for the Suharto coup in Indonesia and the democide in East Timor. I think Shell actually has a Vice President for supervising death squad activity.

Most production of cash crops for corporate agribusiness, under the neoliberal “export-oriented development model” the Washington Consensus forces on the Third World, takes place on land from which peasants were either outright evicted, or reduced to at-will tenancy and then evicted, under colonialism or post-colonialism. The fastest way for a left-leaning regime to bring those “Washington Bullets” down on itself is to try putting that land back in the hands of its rightful owners — the peasants who originally cultivated it. Just ask Jacobo Arbenz.

It’s hilarious that self-described defenders of “free enterprise” like Mittens, who come down hardest on boondoggles like Solyndra, are also the biggest advocates of nuclear power and projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.

Nuclear power is the most extreme example of the phenomenon Tom Knapp described. Every step in the production chain, from the government building roads to the uranium mines on federal land to the disposal of nuclear waste at government expense — and the government indemnification against liability for meltdowns in between — is heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

As for Keystone, it’s just another example — although much smaller in scale and bloodshed — of the kind of corporate looting the fossil fuels industry carries out around the world. Never mind the fact that the extraction itself couldn’t take place in Alberta if government approval didn’t constitute a de facto indemnity, essentially preempting any potential tort action in the courts for harm from pollution.

The pipeline is being built on stolen land. From Montana to Oklahoma and Texas, TransCanada is using eminent domain to steal land — often falling afoul of treaty guarantees with Indian nations — and using local police and sheriffs as mercenaries in pitched battles against activists. Even when it crosses federal land, it amounts to a subsidy to the project. “Vacant” land — actually occupied by human beings with the legal liability of having brown skin — was originally preempted by the Spanish crown, passed into the hands of the Mexican Republic, and thence into the hands of the U.S. government via the Guadalupe-Hidalgo cession. The American state held all this land out of use, in blocs of tens and hundreds of millions of acres, so that it could eventually be handed over to favored timber, mining, oil and pipeline companies without the need to buy it up piecemeal from individual homesteaders, small forestry cooperatives and the like.

So now when you hear Mittens talk about “free enterprise,” you know what he means by it.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail