Tom Hurst writes on liberty, free markets, private property rights, government and the Constitution from Nevada, USA
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COMMON SENSE Volume X: Mining and Prosperity

"We're Mad As Hell, And We're Not Going To Take It Anymore!"

By Rebecca Iocca & Tom Hurst, 2005

If you can't grow it, you've got to mine it. Mining is the foundation of our country's wealth and power. In fact, it has something to do with everything. Manufactured products, our technology, our cars and homes, and our energy all originate from the unfairly maligned mining industry. Mining also provides hundreds of thousands of highly paid jobs at mines and mills, in the surrounding communities and in mining support industries across the country. That mining consumes a tiny portion of our country's land yet produces so many necessary goods and so much prosperity is amazing. Nevada in particular has great mineral wealth and would prosper if the mining industry were unchained from government - Nevada is the 3rd largest gold producer in the world despite the handicap of government.

How are Republicans and Democrats hindering this vital, wealth-producing industry? The politically motivated harm they do comes from excessive taxation, money creation and over-regulation. Despite having no Constitutional authority the federal government claims nearly half of the land in America and 91% of Nevada. On this false premise it demands excessive royalty payments on all mineral extraction. This is in addition to taxes at all levels of production. Also, the government's printing of too many dollars (the sole reason for inflation) is a hidden tax which continually increases the cost of mining's two main expenses, energy and labor.

Exaggerated and even falsified EPA studies of mine and mill pollutants have led to unwarranted over-regulation. For political expediency Republicans and Democrats continue to support the EPA's lies and bad science while conveniently ignoring the disastrous economic ramifications. Further, over-zealous federal land management agencies demand land restoration far beyond what is reasonable. The bottom line is that government meddling unnecessarily increases the cost of mineral production in America, making us uncompetitive in world markets. The reckless government assault on mining has cost jobs and decreased our standard of living. Do you really want a lower standard of living because Republicans and Democrats pander to environmental extremists?

Our solution to this government-caused disaster is to privatize all federal lands. Private property rights would create wealth in communities and deter pollution. Market-based royalty rates instead of the fixed rate demanded by government would encourage mining, and royalty payments will go to the landowner instead of feeding the growth of unnecessary big government. What happens to the land during and after mining is also best determined by respecting private property rights. Landowners who have a stake in maintaining their property's value would determine how their land is restored, and anyone harmed by pollution from mines and mills could sue for damages. Private property rights and the free market would naturally insure the parties involved control pollution and restore the land. Wouldn't this be better than excessive government regulation passed by uninformed, politically motivated politicians?

A Constitutional government would be much smaller. No longer would it take a decade of regulatory compliance and cost a fortune before the first ore is mined. No longer would communities be impoverished because mining income is sent to Washington. No longer would high taxes and inflation make our mining industry uncompetitive. Private property and the free market would, as always, make everything better. We would enable more mining and the prosperity it brings while minimizing pollution and protecting land and ecosystems. Remember, evil flourishes when good people do nothing. Take action by supporting independent candidates who are pro-Liberty!

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Tom Hurst - Defender of liberty, free markets, private property rights, and the Constitution