One of my thinking styles is to figure, well, if Person X, for whom I don't hold a lot of respect, says to do something THIS WAY, I say DO IT THE OPPOSITE WAY! Exclamation points are required.
- So if Get Real Post says Senator Santiago is a hero, I can be quite confident that the CORRECT approach is to get the lady out of positions where she affects us! Like push her off to the International Court where she can wreak her brand of over-the-top speeches on the rest of the world.
- Similarly, if the Philippine National Government is operating education in a way that seems, well, uneducated, I am inclined to come up with the idea "PRIVATIZE EDUCATION!"
- And if private mining companies scream and protest everything the Philippines tries to do to protect its environment, resources, citizen safety, and wealth, I am inclined to say NATIONALIZE MINING!"
That's where I am this morning. I commend President Aquino on issuing Executive Order Number 79 that mandates protection of Philippine resources, restricts small scale mining, raises the cut of revenue the Philippines gets from 2 percent to 5 percent, and mandates a ban on further mining until Congress passes new laws making things like the 5 percent levy official. He has taken firm steps to bring order to an industry that has run amuck for decades, poisoning streams, killing workers, ruining wilderness areas, and stripping the Philippines of its long-term wealth.
But wait a minute!
Two organizations that I don't hold in the highest regard are reasonably pleased with the Executive Order: (1) mining companies, and (2) the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Now I am confused, for these two parties are ordinarily on opposite sides of the matter. Mining companies want freedom to mine and profit, the Bishops want land and people protected better. I think the Mining Companies are pleased because the measures allow them to mine; they are not draconian measures. The CBCP is pleased because at least SOME restrictions are being put in place.
Maybe the Aquino Administration got this one right, cutting right down the middle.
The environmentalists, however, are not happy. The law did not go far enough. Of course, I rather suspect the only way they would be completely happy would be if mining were completely banned. Unfortunately, it is not possible to dig ore from the ground without digging ore from the ground.
Let's step back a bit and strive to do some really fine generalizations.
What is a nation, really? Is it its land or is it its people? Or is it the principles it stands for: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Well, fundamentally, a nation is a community banded together to protect its members (source, Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary, page 832). A lot goes into this protection. Laws, to establish harmonious order and protect us from each other. Defense, or guns and bombs to repel violent opponents who want to bring us down. A good economy so that there are jobs and food on the table. Preserving the nation's resources, for without them, we have nothing in the future.
That's why over-fishing in the surrounding seas is a gross failure of government. Authorities are not preserving our future fisheries. They are failing. They should not be allowed to offer excuses or blames. They are failing.
And that's why mining needs to be managed with great care. Minerals are not like fish. Fish grow back if you give them the right environment and stop dynamiting their houses to sand. A rock, once dug up and sold, is gone.
The Philippines sits on tremendous wealth. Copper, gold, nickel and oil. These assets are like a retirement fund. If you blow it in the short term, you suffer later on. Well, that's our kids we are talking about, the suffering ones. As every investment broker will tell you, each move TODAY needs to fit a plan, a framework, a purpose. You can't knee-jerk your way to wealth and security.
Allowing Korean and Chinese companies to come to the Philippines and strip the place bare with little consideration of long-range impacts is a poor strategy. Exporting the profits that come from smelting and forming these metals is a loss to the Philippines.
"But Joe, we don't have industrial plants in the Philippines that can do these things! The business is too big, too expensive for us."
Exactly. That's why mining needs to be nationalized. "The Philippine National Mining Company". Good old PNMC. So the Philippines can marshal its resources, take its time, build a mine-to-finished product capacity, and gain all there is to gain from its finite resources.
Even a 5% tax is giving away the nation's wealth. Running the mines should generate profits of at least 15%. THAT would be a fair return to Filipinos for the use of their resources. Repeat. "Their" . . . . meaning Filipino citizen . . . resources. These are not Korean resources or Chinese or American. The rocks don't belong to the Senators or even the President. It is disturbing to me that the Philippines is willing to sell its rocks so cheaply and to let companies from other nations jerk the Philippines around as if they had right and title to the rocks, and can make up their own rules as they dig.
I suppose there is a tendency, being needy, for the Philippines to grab the gold now. Get the jobs now.
We should resist that urge, the urge to get a quick peso.
And, yes. I recognize that I am being an idealist, impractical, a space cadet, naïve. I know it is too late to go knee-jerk with Joe Am's nationalization program.
But for myself, I'd rather do nothing than see the minerals sold for a song.
Let those foreign dirt-diggers go dig in Venezuela. Philippine legislators should perfect a really fine mining plan that does not sell Philippine rocks at rock-bottom prices.
The ball is in the legislator's court.