Demand that profits from the exploitation of our natural resources be fairly distributed.

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We need only take a look at the way Norway manages its vast oil reserves and the manner in which all profits from its extraction have been used to benefit the Norwegian people to see what can happen when a government uses the natural resources that belong to its people for the benefit of the people. Again, we can take a look at how the State of Alaska distributes much of the proceeds from the sale of its natural resources to the residents of that state by way of a sizable check each resident receives every year. We Americans could at the same time be better at conservation and better at sharing the rewards of the exploitation of our natural resources if our government kept control over our public lands (meaning public lands and bodies of water that are publicly owned) and managed the extraction of the natural resources from them, and if the profits from the extraction were fairly distributed to the people and/or to public works and social programs that benefit the people. After all, our public lands belong to all of us. It is only fair that we all share in the rewards derived from the exploitation of the natural resources on our public lands.

Instead of socialism for the ultra-wealthy owners of large corporations and bleak capitalism for the rest of us, we the people might be able to exercise some democratic socialism for all the people in the area of Our Public Lands. This would be a huge improvement over how these lands are currently being managed and exploited.

Here is how it currently works in the United States: the government sells licenses to corporations for very low prices to dig, drill, frack, or mine a parcel of land on our public lands. The corporation exploits the land and often makes huge profits. In their quest for profits at the people's expense and often with no care for the environment, the corporations frequently cause devastating environmental damage, and oftentimes do not perform adequate cleanups. Instead, they leave the cleanup to the government (paid for by the taxpayers/the people), which often does not do an acceptable job as they may not have adequate funding for such work. The once pristine land is destroyed and will never recover for people to enjoy through camping, hiking, fishing, and so on, or for animals whose habitat it used to be to live on.

Sometimes people and animals suffer disease and even death as a result of the environmental damage (such as when toxic chemicals pollute drinking water) from the exploitation of public lands, and it is not uncommon for there to be no compensation for this. Meanwhile, the corporations charge high prices for the natural resources they have extracted, and often make huge profits. To make matters worse, many corporations pay little to nothing in taxes, and many take in huge amounts of taxpayer money through subsidies, tax breaks, and other forms of 'corporate socialism' (help the corporations receive from our government). The selling of licenses to extract raw materials from our public lands at extremely low prices (as compared to the resulting profits) is itself a form of corporate socialism – socialism for the wealthy owners of the corporations. Corporations and their principal owners get richer, and the people get poorer, not just in terms of lost income from the valuable natural resources but also in terms of the value of the public lands – that they own – being vastly decreased oftentimes because of the environmental destruction which is sometimes permanent. At the end of the day, the people of the United States are not fairly compensated in any sense for the value of their losses.

It’s time we Americans learn from our savvier neighbors in Norway and the State of Alaska and try a new approach, one that would better protect our environment and distribute the rewards from the exploitation of our public lands to all the people.



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