“Oil belongs to the … people”

 

To revitalize the Iraqi economy, the prime minister’s working to increase oil and electricity production. We spent a lot of time talking about energy in Iraq.

I reminded the government that that oil belongs to the Iraqi people and the government has the responsibility to be good stewards of that valuable asset and valuable resource.

George W. Bush,
Press Conference
Jun 14, 2006

Mr. Bush lays out an interesting piece of advice for this fledgling government in Iraq. But I don’t think this is advice he would apply to his own country.

The government is given the role of "good stewards of that valuable asset and valuable resource" — namely, the production of oil and electricity. This is an appropriate role for the government because "that oil belongs to the Iraqi people".

Good Government holds that the natural resources of the nation belong to the public. More importantly, Good Government holds that government is steward — not owner — of those resources on behalf of the public, and for their benefit.

 

 

So Government must not sell those resources off to private industry for private gain. Rather it must protect those resources, and — when they are put to use for the good of the public — share the proceeds with the public.

This isn’t the picture we see in the US today. Oil production, and increasingly electricity production, is in the hands of corporations. Those corporations make the decisions about how the resources will be exploited and depleted, how the oil will be distributed and priced, and how the proceeds will be shared, and to what purpose.

I’m encouraged by Mr. Bush’s view of how resources must be cared for in Iraq. I would be more encouraged if he had the same view in the US. 

 

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