- Capitalism and Alternatives -

'Owns the land.' I've always had a hard time with that one.

Posted by: MDG on March 02, 19100 at 18:10:03:

In Reply to: Poppycock! [sic] Absolute Poppycock! [sic] posted by David on March 02, 19100 at 10:38:36:


: : There is nothing inherently wrong with government regulation. In fact, regulation is often needed to protect the public and the environment from those who would plunder both for the sake of short-term profit.

: That may be so, however, but the point is that the companies own the land or the forests or the lakes that they are extracting resources from.

You know, ever since I was a kid I've wondered how anyone could "own" a forest or a mountain or a lake; these things were there long before people arrived, so how could they be owned? That may be the simplistic thinking of a child, granted, but still, there's a kernel of truth in it which has been disregarded by the whole Western imperialistic/capitalist mindset. From what I know, the Native Americans had a very hard time understanding what the white man meant when he marched onto the land and said, "This is my property."

Be all that as it may, while companies may acquire natural resources, e.g., forests, legally, these are still the natural resources of the country as a whole, and they do not lose their ecological or social importance simply because they've been purchased on paper. We can and do regulate even private property when necessary, as when endangered species are present. Frankly, I'd like the see the U.S. government buy back the bulk of our natural resources and declare them public property, property which may still be utilized by private companies which have a license to, for example, extract timber or minerals, but property which is owned and managed by the citizens of the country primarily for the nation's benefit.

:Mr. Loudon Head was arguing that when companies own the land and the resources they take better care of it. Yes, there will be some exceptions, such as companies that are fly by night operations hoping to capitalize quickly. However, those companies that are in it for the long run will make sure that they always plant more trees than they cut down so that there will be more next year. Similarly, fisheries will not dredge their fishing areas, completely wiping out the fish populations.

Mr. Loudon Head? I've been puzzling over that nom d'internet for awhile, but I suppose it could be his name. It's a funny name, though.

Back to the subject: it's a mixed record on whether private companies exercise responsible stewardship of their resources. Some do, some don't, depending on the ethics of their executives, demands of the shareholders, etc. Many people fail to see the big picture and do what they can for short-term gain (and I'm talking in general, not just business types). Why risk irreplaceable resources like old-growth forests over the whims of who happens to own it at the time?

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup