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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 30, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Can the Impossible Happen in Britain?
W. T. Whitney
Why Does the United States Beat Up On Capitalist Russia?
Patrick Cockburn
We Can’t Let Britain to Become a Vast ISIS Recruiting Station
Michael J. Sainato
Leaks and Militarized Policing: Water Protectors are Proven Right
Ted Rall
What Do the Democrats Want? No One Knows
David J. Lobina
The Israel-Palestine Conflict and Political Activism
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again, Mainstream Media Does Pharma’s Bidding
David L. Glotzer
Social Security: Clearing Up the Financial Nonsense
Edward Hunt
If They are Wrong the Planet Dies
Lawrence Wittner
How Business “Partnerships” Flopped at America’s Largest University
Guillermo R. Gil
Poems Must Never be White
Martin Billheimer
Strategies of Rose and Thorn in Portland
Tony Christini
What isn’t Said: Bernie Sanders in 2020
Chandra Muzaffar
Fasting for Palestinian Justice and Dignity
Clancy Sigal
Even Grammar Bleeds
May 29, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
No Laughing Matter: The Manchester Bomber is the Spawn of Hillary and Barack’s Excellent Libyan Adventure
Vijay Prashad
The Afghan Toll
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post’s Renewed Attack on Whistlblowers
Robert Fisk
We Must Look to the Past, Not ISIS, for the True Nature of Islam
Dean Baker
A Tax on Wall Street Trading is the Best Solution to Income Inequality
Lawrence Davidson
Reality and Its Enemies
Harry Hobbs
Australia’s Time to Recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Sovereignty
Ray McGovern
Will Europe Finally Rethink NATO’s Costs?
Cesar Chelala
Poetry to the Rescue of America’s Soul
Andrew Stewart
Xi, Trump and Geopolitics
Binoy Kampmark
The Merry Life of Dragnet Surveillance
Stephen Martin
The Silent Apartheid: Militarizing Architecture & Infrastructure
Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail