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February 3, 2010

Who Owns The People's Resources?

-- by Dave Johnson

Who owns the resources -- oil, gas, minerals, water, etc.?

Over at Open Left David Sirota writes about The Politics of Oil/Gas Taxes Moves to New Geographic Battlegrounds

Twenty-eight states have severance taxes on such commodities - that is, taxes assessed when the commodity (in this case, natural gas) is severed from the earth. The idea behind these taxes is that these natural resources are inherently both a public resource and a finite resource, and therefore the private corporations severing them should give back to the public coffers a small fraction of the value of that resource. In many states, these tax revenues are devoted to trust funds for public goods like education.

If people had a strong understanding of democracy, they would look at the issue this way: We, the People want to develop a resource that we own in common. We want minerals extracted and processed for us to use. To do so we "hire" a company to do this for us. As payment, as the company sells the resources they get to keep some -- only some -- of the proceeds for themselves.

Posted by Dave Johnson at February 3, 2010 5:56 PM


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