“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, May 11, 2006


First things first. LI says: SUPPORT THE TEN.
As a long time supporter of breaking the American military, LI has been heartened by the lack of enlistment, and the Army’s quiet desperation as it eyes various dire thresholds in Iraq. So this story in WAPO caught our eye:

“The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.
The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers, according to Army figures

"I don't think during a time of war you would want to let people go when you have a shortage of people," Army Reserve spokesman Steve Stromvall said when asked to comment on the memo, which surfaced during litigation over the policy. At least 10 reserve officers have sued the Army, saying they should be allowed to get out because they have finished their mandatory eight years of service.”

In the longer term, the crucial job is to wrest the military away from its use by an out of control executive branch. This is a struggle that will, really, decide what form of government rules this country. We already have a gerrymandered map for the house, and a relic of slave days ensuring white supremacy in the Senate – the way the Senate seats are distributed would shame Iran’s mullahs. I often read conservative bloggers go on about how the U.S. is a Republic, not a democracy – which doesn’t prevent said bloggers from totally supporting the supposed Bush effort to bring democracy to the Middle East. LI is for bringing democracy to the U.S. You can contribute by talking up the horrors of a military that is the plaything of the President’s vanity. Remember, every potential recruit you divert from the military brings us that much closer to taking back the country.

And this just in, as an addendum to our Myth post of yesterday on the strange rebirth of socialism in Latin America. Readers will remember that John Harris cast about for some way to explain the irrationality of the wave of nationalizations in Latin America. Today’s Independent has a fine story that will bring a tear of joy to the eye of the libertarians among us, a story of capitalism in the classical mode, a story that echoes with New World motifs that reach back to when Caliban was a pup

A. first, it involves the original, divinely ordained mineral that started it all. The El Dorado square on that monopoly board, the Periodic table. Gold.
B. There’s the discovery. The original discoverer is a native, Luis Arteaga, who went into the hills near his village of Palo Ralo twenty five years ago and found the stuff. Palo Ralo is in Honduras. We know the next step in the story, of course. The foundation of a society of property law depends on stealing the property of natives, and this was done in due course. The Honduran courts are still hearing his case:
“… in 1998, in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Mitch and with the help of a new mining code designed to attract foreign investment, Entre Mares was awarded the lease to San Martin and Mr Arteaga's claims were ignored. To add to the insult, the villagers claim they were coerced into agreeing to move from their homes and relocate to is now the new village of Palo Ralo.
The company insist the move was done on the basis of "willing buyer, willing seller".

Despite the resources ranged against them, Mr Avila has fought ferociously for his client and for his claim of millions of dollars. Remarkably it seems he may even have won. The lawyer was able to show legal documents that appeared to show not only his clients' legal stake for discovery of the gold but also rulings from two lower courts upholding his claim to 5 per cent of Entre Mares profits. He said the case was now with the Honduran Supreme Court. "The court has ruled in our favour twice," he said.”

C. Entre Mares is a wholly owned subsidiary of Glamis, a gold mining company in the old fashioned style. Not one to bow to newfangled, socialistic ideas about the environment or fair pay or any of that crap. Fighting the good Randian fight. Prospero’s distant breed, American branch hq-ed in Nevada:

"We were happy, super happy. We thought we were going to uncover riches and wealth," he said, sitting outside his house in the newly created village of Palo Ralo, his eyes sunk deep in tobacco-brown skin. "But if I knew what I know now I would have never have accepted [what has happened]." Mr Arteaga is just one of many outspoken critics of the sprawling San Martin goldmine, operated by Glamis Gold, a mining company with headquarters in Nevada. Some locals say the company's behaviour is so exploitative they have likened it to a new form of "colonialism" while the Honduran public prosecutor has filed an action accusing the multinational of deforestation, pollution of streams and illegally altering the course of water-ways and roads.”

Now here’s the kind of thing that any country would embrace. Glamis has a special way of finding that precious metal: “Meanwhile, internationally the company's activities have been seized on by campaigners who say the growing dispute in Honduras un-derlines the need for wide-ranging changes in the way mining leases are awarded and the need to ensure full consultation with local people. The controversy also highlights how - with the world's most accessible gold reserves having already been taken - mining companies are now using highly destructive and toxic methods in the developing world to feed our enduring demand for this precious metal.
Such methods, which produce up to 30 tons of toxic waste for each ounce of gold produced, have been banned elsewhere.” Nimbys, you know. Happily, paying that four dollars and two bits per day and using massive amounts of cyanide has been very good to all concerned. Oh, some villagers complain about hair loss, and there will be the decades after the operation closes down of misbirths, poverty, and the uselessness of the land. On the other hand:

“… Local environmental activists say the mine has created huge problems, has taken up precious water resources and caused cyanide pollution in local streams as a result of its heap leeching techniques, in which diluted cyanide is sprayed over huge piles of quarried rock to separate the microscopic flecks of gold. They believe such pollution may be the cause of skin problems and hair loss suffered by local people.

That's an allegation that Joe Danni, the vice-president of Corporate Relations at Glamis disputes. "There was a significant shortage of water locally already. It's famine or feast in Honduras, mud and water or dust."
Campaigners have questioned whether the mine should be operating in a drought-prone area but Mr Danni argues that Glamis has improved the year-round supply of potable water to residents by drilling wells.”

Drill the well, use the cyanide, drill the well, use the cyanide. A company like Glamis, as you can imagine, by doing good is doing well. So very well:

“This week, while shareholders met in Toronto, the company revealed that first-quarter profits had soared by 668 per cent, largely as a result of higher prices for metals and a full quarter of commercial production at the new mine in Guatemala. The Guatemala operation was established with the help of a controversial $45m loan from the World Bank despite the fact that the mine is only expected to create 160 long-term jobs.”

Imagine: side by side we have a picture of irrational communists, banded together in a religious mass, and we have the happy shareholders of Glamis, going home in their SUVs. I think the Tech Central people could point to the side they want to be on.

Of course, the World Bank loan should clue us in that there are limits to the free market. In fact, Glamis has been an outstanding global corporate citizen, willing to reach across international lines even in the U.S. – the company’s Canadian branch has sued under NAFTA for a fair compensation for its Imperial valley project. The simply proposed a mile wide, open pit, cyanide heavy gold mining operation in Imperial county, California. They proposed to process 400 tons of rock and soil for every ounce of gold. They would use up to 389 million gallons of water annually. Shockingly, one of the last things Clinton’s Interior department did was deny the Imperial a permit. Of course, that had to change once friendly, friendly George Bush came into office, and friendly, friendly Gale Norton couldn’t see the big deal. Permit granted, and go where the spirit of Rand leads you. That’s when the California Mining and Geology board stepped in, with pesky filings about back filling. Can you imagine? More government on our backs. We need that gold!
Ah, and you will remember that little fight a year ago, over CAFTA – the Central American version of Nafta. You might wonder why on earth it would matter. Was Bush just trying to fight poverty in Central America?

No way. The fight – and the CAFTA’s successful passage – is insurance for companies like Glamis. In the case some future government in Honduras wanted Glamis to, say, stop massively poisoning the land, Glamis could use CAFTA rules and the State department simply to ride over that weak assertion of sovereignty.

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

Praise Saint Ayn! Glory, Brother Roger, for bringing us TESTIMONY about the GLORIES of Capitalism!

Of course, my favorite Libertarian-Anarchist cranks would just argue that this is all and only GOVERNMENT'S fault. In their world, they see the peasants in a government-free society as easily overcoming a big global corporation like this, (maybe with pitchforks and torches facing down the corporation's private militia forces?) (Of course, they forget that big cocnentrations of private power would not suddenly go away once we SMASH THE STATE, but... that's a minor quiblle, because they are winners, don't you know?) It's only and totally the Government (woe be ye who call upon IT'S NAME) that causes this kind of environmental devastation.

Heck, maybe they have a point. Not too much corporate investment right now in Somalia. Of course, only an anarchist-libertarian crank safely ensconced in a modern American suburban basement would PREFER living in Somalia to an oh so oppressive STATE, but, them's the breaks!