Who do natural resources belong to? Why are many resource-rich countries so poor and what can we do about it? Watch and find out!
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Leif Wenar, “Property Rights and the Resource Curse” http://tinyurl.com/q5jxnpo
Thomas Pogge, "World Poverty and Human Rights"
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Thomas Paine had a very unique solution... "Agrarian Justice is the title of a pamphlet written by Paine and published in 1797, which proposed that those who possess cultivated land owe the community a ground rent..." Wikipedia
A very similar concept in economics is the Paradox of Plenty. Economic theory predicts that countries with large amounts of national resources will have large amounts of capital; many countries in the Southern Hemisphere are counterexamples to this. One answer to this is that these countries do have a large amount of capital, although it is not evenly distributed within the country itself. In other words, Mr. Obiang is as rich as the people of Equitorial Guinea are collectively poor. The problem with this answer is that it begs the question of how such an extreme inequality be formed and maintained, which is a whole 'nother branch of economics that is as difficult is it is controversial.
Natural resources are not the source of a nations wealth. Nations are wealthy if their people are productive. The reason for the resource curse is not that the dictator isn't sharing the wealth, it's that he can enable the people to be unproductive by paying them off with oil money. The path to success for ambitious people in a resource cursed nation lies in appeasing the dictator and not in being productive on your own. In fact, the dictator has an incentive to prevent other sectors of the economy from gaining clout because they are a threat to his power. The people of resource cursed nations could still independently pursue the kind of wealth posessed by their non-cursed neighbours, but they don't. Why they don't is what you'll need to explain to understand the resource curse.
All ressources should "belong" to everybody. They should be used to benefit the whole planet, not just some random dude who was born near them or some random douchebag who ripped of some random dude who was born near the ressources. Why? As in all decisions you must ask what the agenda behind them is. In my case: A planet that provides a good home to everybody living on it, not just the ones born under the right circumstances.
So still completely on Imperial countries terms then? No challenge to the role the West plays in establishing neocolonial dictators to extract resources? Just ways we can profit and establish 'Democracy' within a western bourgeois standard?
What about the cases of unjust borders? Most borders today have been the result of conquest and in many cases displacement of native peoples. Herein, you could have come to live in a country unjustly, but might still own its natural resources in a so-called just way.
hi, u must learn a philosophy now, if any country is plundering the resources of other country, in past or present the same will happen to them in future, no one will escape this cycle, so live with what u have, but don't disturb the peace around the globe by looting others u will suffer, now ur development is temporary, sooner or later u will be looted too. if u pass love u will get love or if pass violence u will get it sooner or later so be aware of it.
With this logic. Shouldn't governments of developed countries be trying to promote confederations of localized consumer co-ops for all utilities? if the customers are the ones who own the water company in the power company, and the government then regulates those companies. While nationalizing natural resources. we could begin to resolve these issues in their domestic sense.
In terms of international relations, I really like the ideas presented in the video. Although I am curious about how one might try to get any of this implemented in the current political structure.
His solution would not work, tariffs would be set by China as well, or worse (kiberatacks, etc). And who woul reprsent the people ? Any election ? Comunist countries kept elections, if you remember, and the party won ... Do parlaments represent people's real intrest or are they filled up with enoughly clever people to manipulate stupid people to beleive this?
"who owns natural resources?" in reality, in real life, and not in our idealized versions of the world, those who own natural resources, are those willing to fight and die for them...if i kill you, i win, i usurp your position, i take your property, and vice versa for you. the owners of natural resources are physical or political winners. the owners are those who are willing to physically take them. as shitty as that sounds, it seems to be truth. resources DO NOT belong to everyone, because almost no one is willing to die for them. try and walk up to a gold mine and demand you get your take...you will be physically removed and possibly beaten. no one will listen to your claims. however, form a militia, fight hard and win, and all of a sudden the miners bow to your commands. violence is a fact, and violent men tend to get what they want, because FAR too many people these days fear that violence, and refuse to resist them. if your resources are being taken, then fight, or shut up and accept the new reality of being the loser, and without any honor in it.
A quick note on the idea of owning resources. I think we have to remember that resources are not "Just there". Comparable to the making of any other owned product, a level of effort is put into harvesting oil or coal through refineries or mines. Ethics aside, surely the company or government who invests in these harvesting tools and process owns the initial ownership of the resource. Then it is down to the sale pattern to decide who shall own it in the future.
Wait, wouldn't we just be nicking the billion dollars instead then? I can foresee some nu-imperialism hiding in the requirements for what constitutes a "good" government, and Britain or whoever holding that money hostage unless a system like the British system of government was put in place.
I'm not sure Wenar's tariff proposal is really such a good idea for two reasons. First, while a tariff on manufactured goods will help makes of UK manufactured goods, it will hurt consumers of those goods by reducing competition and driving up prices. Second, trade restrictions don't have a stellar history as a tool for inspiring political change in other countries (e.g. the US embargo against Cuba).
If we suggest that natural resources are owned by the people of the country they are in, isn't capitalism a bit problematic. After all property rights aren't given out by consent of the people. While a democratic government is likely to spend money made on behalf of the people, they can't account for individual wants but I think most would agree that an individual should be able to use his 'wealth' however he sees fit.
How about this?
Resources belong to the people who need them.
Your workforce belongs to you.
You can take money for the work required for supplying them with it.
In a territorial sense you can "own" the resources because arguably ownership is necessary if you want an efficient system.
The local people may have bigger rights because it is the logistical / bureaucratic best way to do that.
Nations have rights in the same sense as corporations have if they serve those purposes. If someone else did the job better that would make him have more rights to do it as long as that would not disturb much else.
Everything else would be a discussion about the best way to run a global economy.
i think resources belong to whomever owns the land they are on, not who governs that land. however depending on how the government works, the government might own it. personally i think that governments taking ownership of land they do not own without consent of previous owner is stealing, period.
the basis for this simply being to own a piece of land entitles you to ownership of its resources.
if there is a problem with how the government deals with ownership of land it becomes a responsibility of the people to deal with that and not a responsibility of other governments. although if a majority of the people desire help in effecting change in their government then other governments have the right to help.
There is a misunderstanding of how resources get acquired in Africa. Africa doesn't have the needed infrastructure and technology to get the oil, diamonds and gold out of the earth. We have foreign countries who come to Africa, build the factories, refineries and mines and with them comes the technical skills and expertise. This means it that it is Shell or BP taking the oil out of the ground and not the country itself, the country ideally get's a sizable share of the profit (but as this video does well detail that money isn't always appropriates that well). So leveraging a tax would be difficult as in most cases it's not a country but an international corporation, and the natural resources are sometimes difficult to track. So it's not so simple as saying, lets tax imports from China, since China probably has resources sourced from any number of countries without the ability to effectively identify the origin.
Of course you completely missed out on the topic of nationalisation, but that never really works out either... there's a reason why foreign companies need to come in and setup the infrastructure (a couple of South African mines actually went belly up franks to the government gaining ownership and handing it off to whomever... such a Mandela's incompetent grandson!)
In the most realistic sense, any resource, natural or crafted by man, is in equal parts only "owned" by those who do the work to procure it and make it into what it is resourcefully useful for. Furthermore, the specific amount of which you "own" should be equal to the percentage amount of work and importance of your job to keep the job going.
Example: If a man makes a farm and farms it himself, he deserves all benefit of those resources. If a man builds 10 farms and directs and checks in on those farms but they are ultimately run buy 10 others, then the boss man only deserves as much as his decisions helped to create a more efficient way of farming. The 10 deserve the rest of "their" farm.
to further elaborate, if each of the 10 on their own would have to spend 100$ each to get their farms running and would make 200$ back(100$ profit), but the boss can make it so that all 10 only cost 900$ creating another 100$ profit, he only deserves that extra 100$.
They don't belong to anyone since ownership is a political concepts while resources are simply there whether somebody claims them or not. Those who sell it, or claim it do so by the power to enforce their ownership over anybody elses ownership. Simple, really.
IMO, Natural Resources should belong to no one. The prices we pay for them should not necessarily be for transferring ownership from one to another, but rather, from transferring them in space or modifying them for ease of use. Just because I need gasoline in my car does not mean I am willing to go to an oil rig, pump crude oil and process it into usable fuel. Because of this, I will pay someone else to do all of it for me.
It's not the case that the UK would benefit from putting tariffs on Chinese goods. Some select companies might benefit from decreased competition but as a whole, the UK would loose out. The reason for this is the principle of comparative advantage (look it up if unsure, it's a simple concept). This is basic economic theory and the reason why almost every economist supports free trade. So effectively, the UK would be paying to follow it's sense of morality. It is not something which could be done at no cost. This is an important point which I feel is not emphasised enough in the video.
Hey Philosophy Tube!
Did the notions of International Resource Privilege and International Borrowing Privilege not orignate with Thomas Pogge? Thought it might be worth attributing that, seeing as those terms are quite influential in Global Justice ethics and he's probably a guy worth researching if people want to understand those ideas in more depth.
No problem. I'm pretty certain that it was Pogge who came up with those terms but they've become pretty ubiquitous since then so it's difficult to know exactly where they originated without someone explicitly pointing to the source.
Keep up the good work mate. :)
@Franticalmagic You may well be right. I have read Pogge, although when I was introduced to them they were as general terms rather than as quotations. Thanks for pointing this out: I'll update the recommended reading section of description to include his book.
Resources belong to the people who exert the most compelling political case for ownership. I think this is true because ownership is a subjective position and is , as such based on other people consider you the owner.
If I say it's mine and the people who buy it from me think it is mine, as far as we are concerned I can transfer ownership and restrict access. If no one else can mount a more effective claim, this will stay true until they can.
Examples: Native Americans land rights, the Star of Africa, and many more.
Quick statement on your modal statements.
What is wrong in saying that the thing that actually happened is the only thing that could have happened in reality because it did, and the others did not. Model statements are about probability and models not actuality.
@Philosophy Tube Yeah, I think to go further and talk about what exists based on what scientific theories tell us is to venture into meta-physics from physics to be honest. Scientists don't talk about whether electrons exist, they just assume they do. Much like mathematicians/social scientists assume the existence of their axioms and work from that. It is the philosopher who then takes the data from such disciplines and gives them ontological purpose/truth values.
That is incorrect. Or is a straw man of what I was saying. There are plenty of scientific theories which are now known to be incorrect.
They are still scientific. Why? Because they were an accurate model of the observed facts. As it turned out, they were not describing things that exist. They were modelling the connections between things that exist. This is true of our current theories as well. this is why they are tentative.
A Newtonian world never existed even when our observations suggested it did. It is quite possible our relative world view is also incorrect. This does not make it unscientific. This just means scientific theories do not describe actuals worlds just accurately describe the interactions of observed facts. If they happen to do both, all this means is that we have discovered all relevant observations.
I don't think this gets rid of modality. It just in my opinion ends the debate on if they actually describe worlds that exist.
This is why a theory describes what we observe, not a truth.
The solution works as long as money is "fiat" in nature, but when we manufacture fiat money, we are essentially creating greater value than what the original value would have been. Thus, this problem cleverly escapes the issue by making "more money/ value" from the use/ purchase of the resources that may/may not be justly procured.
Isn't everything that exists some sort of resource that to some degree a country consumes. We take owner ship over many things in our lives that even being things that no one knows about. Instead of looking at the possession of resources through the abstract lens of having governments of people that create invisible definitions for people, places, and things, maybe control over things is best treated as "first come first serve". The basic reality is that we are here to best survive in what ways we can. This entire thought is of course is in ignorance of human morality, and other human abstractions of rule and law.
How about the idea that ownership of resources is conferred by labor invested, a la Locke?
Natural resources have no intrinsic ownership value until some effort is invested by someone to obtain them or render them into some usable form. (This is seems intuitively correct - air is a pretty essential natural resource, but there's plenty of it about, obtainable for no effort, so nobody's claiming ownership of it or trying to sell it.)
In that case, the resource argument is a footnote of the actual problem, which is dictatorships. "This oil that happens to come from inside the borders of that country actually belongs to those people, so we should give profits from it back to them so they can be represented by someone who lets them sell it themselves" just seems like an extraordinarily roundabout way of saying "dictator bad, sanctions & aid."
The resources themselves belong to whoever pulls them out of the environment. The decision not to allow citizens to do that or profit isn't any problem with ownership or resources at all, it's a political problem.
Even Locke who was a proponent of work mixing theory suggested as much and in kind (which I take to mean of similar quality) be left for others. This is never the case.
If the people actually mixing labor attained ownership through their work it wouldn't be so bad. This is rarely the case.
I've been looking into Georgism/Geoism lately in particular because I think technological unemployment is going to create a really undesirable permanently stratified class system of property owners and everyone else.
Georgism tries to be egalitarian to natural resources and capitalistic to work.
While I think it can be extended to all property the classic means to it's end is to have only land value taxation near the rental cost of empty land to be distributed equally to citizenry as a dividend.
For an example you could compare the history of Alaska's permanent dividend fund.
Natural resources are traded bought and sold with no work added strongly suggesting they have intrinsic value. Enclosure can be socially acceptable through a social contract but assertion of exclusivity without that is problematic. I'd like a global democratically determined social contract but that seems unlikely.
I kinda like the tariff solution. I also think our energy issues would best be addressed by nuclear power.
Thanks for sharing by the way.
How do you define ownership? Isn't the general idea something about doing work on an object? If the government isn't the one doing the work, how do they have ownership or any sort of jurisdiction over the allocation of resources?
Wenars' idea does seem hypocritical. Additionally what happens if all major nations take the moral view and pressurize partners, allies to do same. Might have dictatorships refusing business with other dictatorships on grounds they're dictatorships.
The world cannot belong to anyone.. In this case of Natural resources an illusion that we own it. Everything that man thinks up an ideal and so is ownership. There is no other animal that owns another. We as Humans invented it then took what we wanted, and in this case being natural resources from whoever we wanted to and then said it's our and we own it. Only the winners get to say they are right in this world. They may not be right but that is how they will write history
Really, the best thing is to say that natural resources belong to the people who have a stake in how they are used. Those people are the people living there. However, the state cannot control those resources on the peoples's behalf because there really is nothing of substance to back up the state's claim of sovereignty that can actually be proved. I mean you can write a constitution, however it is just a piece of paper that does not validate anything. Also, just because people vote in an election, does not mean they support the governing constitution.I mean, just look at any country with compulsory voting. The only thing to back up the state's claim of sovereignty is the threat of force. Also, most politicians represent who pays for them to be in office, not those who vote for them. Normally, the rich pay the largest amount of donations, thus ensuring that politicians serve the rich, not the people. So resources must be controlled by the local communities under direct consensus democracy.
Resources belong to nobody AND everybody? They belong to nobody because of how fluid and flawed our understanding of ownership of anything is. They belong to nobody because Resources 'belong' to the Earth, and they belong to everybody because as part of the Earth, we have the right to use these resources. The use of resources should be for the betterment of the Earth system, but it doesn't always happen that way. Many times Resources are used in ways that harm the Earth and/or others.
We can say that WE own something rather than someone because of usage. The UK is using the island of England. China can buy land in England/other countries for farmland etc, and use it, but because of our immediacy in the system, we have a more direct sense of the effects of something being used. We basically buy/sell usage of something not 'ownership' of it.
One thing I think might do something, but would be a disaster if done improperly, would be an "ethical wishlist tariff" placed on all foreign products. Prices are jacked up by a certain percent (let's just go with a chunky 40% for now) and they are lowered by fractions of that percent when the products sold are shown to have been produced without the incursion of certain moral hazards. 5% off for no use of child labor, 5% off for being sold by what we consider to be a legitimate democracy. The criteria, and percentages would be different in practice, or course, but I think this is totally within the governments purview. A government obviously has a great responsibility to it's citizens, but I think it has one to all people it has an effect on. The same way we should charge companies to pay for polluting and waste management we should charge other countries with conditional tariffs so as to disincentivise evil activities.
I find this insufficient, the ideas displayed are mostly applicable to Dictatorships or Illegitimate democracies. But what about democratical capitalist countries?
Chile is the first country to implement the Neoliberal model for the economy (So trending to the private sector that Margaret Thatcher considered it too extreme and it's still more capitalist than the U.S as a whole). The situation with natural resources like fishing, copper, lithium, etc. goes mainly to the private sector and its done through the democratic process of passing laws that grant ownership or concessions over the resource for some time (10 years for example).
The "Wenar" solution is flawed as it doesn't give legitimacy to the exploitation of the resource, it's just a selfish way of washing the hands of the buying country and "sinning" for inaction.
Now the rest of the ideas about "Ownership" is not so complex, for one to sell something, one must own it. But as you don't own the sea or cannot own the sun you can totally sell the product of the natural resource like fish from the sea or the mineral from the mines.
That's all I can say for now but I do have another ideas about the subject...
And for next time I choose Aesthetics.
What about the opposite? I mean take Ecuador's situation afew years ago (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/dec/30/ecuador-paid-rainforest-oil-alliance): they were in a lousy economical situation, they knew people wanted access to that sweet sweet oil, but they recognised the existing natural habitat and it's ecological importance. That importance wasn't just to them, it was to the whole world, and we're all just lucky that those in power at the time considered asking for the money at least worth a try, AND that they got it. But what if they hadn't raised the money? Would people have criticised them for drilling? Probably. Would it be ethical for them to criticise Ecuador's government for its actions? Despite the corner the rest of the world kind of forced it into?
Say someone stole $10000 from you to fix up and sell a car. This idea would suggest the government levy $1000 on the sale to give back to you. I get a car, you get your money back, and the thief gets the benefit of their labor in fixing the car, but benefits less from the theft. It sounds messy, and charitable towards foreign strangers in a way that the UK government typically isn't, but it's not totally unreasonable.
Why, however, would we keep it in trust until we can give it to a democratic government? That represents a real faith in the relationship between a democracy and its citizens, when we could give it to the people of the country directly in one form or another.
@Philosophy Tube Immediately relevant to your comment are the two non-profits to whom I give money:
How people choose among the myriad forms of their charity and aid reflect underlying assumptions and values in a really profound way that often makes me want to take a break from economics and finally figure out what ethics is.
That could be an option, if there are better ways of ensuring it actually gets used by the people themselves and doesn't restrict their usage of it. Like if we gave them a billion dollars worth of roads or something, that might not be as good as the actual money because then they wouldn't have as much flexibility in what they did with it.
It strikes me as though this treats "nation" as a natural kind, some built-in partion of the world's landmass. But those national borders are themselves constructed by military power, and so constructed largely because of the natural resources within.
Why residency should give one the moral high ground, and when it shouldn't, is tricky. National borders written by colonists have no special moral status in my mind. Simple proximity can be either egalitarian (this belongs to all Guineans) or not (The river crosses my land, so I'm going to bottle the whole thing and sell it down stream). Perhaps we should decide why we prefer giving money to the average Guinean and make decisions based on that rather than on their passports.
It is interesting though how if you bought a barrel of oil, no one would deny that oil is yours. However if you went to Nigeria and bought an oil field you will run into problems. I think this is simply a matter of Popular Consent. If people say you own it, then you seem to own it. After all there was a time when you owned people, and that was okay. Sure people questioned whether you could actually own someone, but those voices were trampled by those that said it was fine. Even now, governments say that they own a percentage of your income, and while you can debate that all day long, in the end the option is submit or face the punishment. I say chalk one up for Hobbes. The Social Contract seems to decide who owns what, "inalienable rights' be damned.
I think it may be important to keep a historical perspective when it comes to ownership of natural resources. We currently live a time when empires have all but disappeared and this is a new phenomenon in the history of the world. One hundred years ago, most of Africa was colonized by European empires, and those empires extracted vast sums of wealth from their colonies. Now that control has been turned over to the denizens of those former colonies, we are sort of in an odd spot when it comes to resource exploitation.
While I'm inclined to agree with you that resources should, generally speaking, belong to the people of a given nation state, I'm skeptical that only democracies are capable of representing the people. In fact, your home country, the UK, is technically a theocracy with the Queen being both the head of state and the head of the Anglican church. The queen derives her right to rule from the crown, which is ultimately vested in God; yet, I would not propose placing a similar embargo on UK goods until such time as the UK is a representative democratic republic vis-a-vis my home country, the US. You could argue that a constitutional monarchy (like the UK, or the Kingdom of Spain, or the Empire of Japan) are nearly indistinguishable from republics, but then why would the US have felt it necessary to break away from the UK in the first place, given that we were once colonists and subjects of the English crown? Put another way, the queen is not elected, so why should she have any powers--even minor ones like the royal act of mercy or the ability to dissolve parliament--when this may not represent the will of the people? How is it different from Sierra Leon's long standing dictatorship?
If the answer is that the UK's monarchy is no longer a brutal despotism, then I think you're engaging in a sort of political realism, in which case I would look at the first statement of political realism found in Thucydides: "the strong do what they are able, the weak suffer what they must." When the monarchy was stronger, it was more despotic. As it has been weakened over the centuries, it has learned to suffer what it must, so to speak. Were it to grow stronger again, would it become more despotic and tyrannical? I don't know. A benevolent dictator is still a dictator, and a tyrant still a tyrant; however, I would not argue that the UK's monarchy did not represent the people when it was more despotic and then with the opening of the house of commons and the limiting of the monarchy magically started representing the people. It's a spectrum issue.
How do you decided which govs are bad and which are good?
If we don't buy the resources, but the products produced with the them, we are still creating the market the 'bad' gov is profiting from.
If we put up tariffs, will china just sell to someone else? How will we set the tariff? When we don't really know if the people stitching our clothes are treated in an ethical way, how are we suppose to know if the polyester they are stitching has been made for oil purchased from an ethical gov?
There are just too many questions and impracticalities for the system to work in my opinion, but maybe there is a simple solution to my objects?
If you imagine (incorrectly) that everyone still buys the oil, and the government just gets to take some of China's profit, then it's only being paid for once, and the money's being set aside further down the line for redistribution to the poor. But i think you're right that the tax only has the power to take that money from those at the end of the supply chain, which seems like it will have only a passing effect on the incentives facing the president of Equitorial Guinea.
This is the bit I actually don't understand. My other points, I know they were probably talked about in more detail.
If you have bought the car you have presumably paid for it. So you have paid twice (once to the thief and once to me). Why not just buy from somewhere else? Somewhere you don't have to set aside any money for the victim of the crime?
No business will pay the extra money to compensate the victim. I think the oil example is easier for my problem.
China buys the oil from a dictator.
England buys the products made with the oil (including a tariff to compensate the people of the nation the oil was taken from).
This means the oil is being paid for twice. Unless I am missing something this just means than the market for the oil now doesn't include England.
I don't think there's a simple solution to your objections, but that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't solutions. The author presumably realizes that this would ultimately be a rough and messy policy. The idea, as I understand it, is that we'd be setting aside that portion of the value of the good that comes from stolen resources, then giving it back to the people from whom it was stolen.
Say someone stole $1000 from you to fix up and sell their car. This idea would suggest I buy the car and then give you $1000. I get a car, you get your money back, and the thief will be sure to do it again, amused that the guy paying him feels bad about it.
@Mathieu Leader I think @Philosophy Tube's point was particularly that _students_ of philosophy aren't in the business of constructing whole theories of how to think about some issue.
That said, I would argue that people rarely come up with "new theories" in the sense of writing some big book that offers _ex nihilo_ a new framework for a problem. Even books and papers we look back on as revolutionary are in large part developing on old ideas. New theories aren't written so much as they arise out of the work of a large group of people, despite out temptation to name those theories after particular people.
@Mathieu Leader Well sometimes my original criticisms of arguments do get mixed up in the videos. Are you thinking of 'theories' holistically, as in grand, sweeping explanations of everything? Because that isn't really how philosophy works. I have viewpoints on certain topics but philosophy students don't come up with big original theories any more than geography students come up with new geographical research methods.
@Markous Because the purpose of property rights is to allow for a use of money and to lead to economic efficiency. I don't think there's any great moral claim about it; in fact, frankly I don't they have any moral basis whatsoever, at least in and of themselves, just like rights.
The question of do I know the Earth isn't sentient... Well, it lacks a CNS for a start. Of course, in principle it would be possible for a being to experience pain/pleasure without a CNS and to think without a brain, however that seems highly unlikely with regards to the Earth so it seems we're clutching at strings here... It's just a ball of rock and water with a little bit of gas on top...
Even more interesting question is who owns the resources outside the Earth, for example, on Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet where Philae has landed on. If they belong to all mankind then how exactly share them?
Yes because necessity means that it MUST be this way which is meant to say something different from "it is this way". How do we justify the difference? Usually it is by saying that is is true that all possible worlds with conditions x and y also have condition y.
While I love the idea of this solution and I agree that this problem needs to be fixed somehow, I am a bit skeptical of the way you present it as a sort of all win scenario. I have a couple of problems with the practicality and morality of your solution to how we solve this problem (aside from the obvious fact that no government in the world will ever adopt it because of the tremendous amount of spending control that it would require)
First, how do we define which governments our country doesn't buy from (I'm going to use the US as an example because that's where I live). The american government supports a large number of regimes around the world that, it could very easily be argued, do not strictly speaking represent the people (the issue of supporting corrupt regimes being an entirely different can of worms) but we can't impose embargoes on all of them because there are far more complicated issues involved than whether or not the resources were justly obtained.
Example what if Israel was one of our major oil suppliers (it's not, but for the sake of an easy example, let's say it is) but Israel gets most of their oil from the Palestinian states. The U.N. recognizes that the Palestinian states are under the domain of the Israeli government, which does represent a majority of people in that country, but the people who live in those specific regions might be opposed to selling that oil to the US, or worse, Israel may use the profits of that oil to further reel in the Palestinian states against their will.
Israel is a democracy, and the UN has said (albeit with some reservations) that the Palestinian states belong to the Israeli government, so by this proposed method of moral distribution of resources, could we justifiably buy oil from Israel? could we justifiably buy oil from any country really?
Second, While I understand that the UK does have large oil reserve in Scotland, most of the US's oil comes from offshore drilling (we have large reserves in Texas and Alaska, but most of it is off our coasts). Even if you believe that the US government is representative of the people of america and acts in their best interests (which I do), can we legitimately say that they have a right to distribute that oil even if it is within our national waters? more importantly, if we take a drilling area like Spindle top Texas (one of our largest on shore oil reserves) that well actually sits on top of a pool that actually crosses over into mexico, so if we were to extract all the oil from Spindlehead, we would effectively be removing a large oil reserve from mexico, even though we never crossed the border (think of Daniel Day Lewis's speech from the end of "there will be blood"). most of the oil is on the US side of the border, but how do we decide how much of it we own and how much mexico owns?
Third, if we cut off our purchases of oil from, say Saudi Arabia, even if we were to max out production of our own oil reserves, it would still drive the price exponentially up, and if we did collect funds from a tariff on Chinese gasoline (assuming as you said in your example that China will still buy Saudi Arabia's oil) that money would have to go to subsidizing our own oil production if we didn't want our economy to tank (unless we want to get into the ethical debate that the US's economy should tank because it's built on a number of immoral institutions and practices, which is a fair point, but that issue is a rabbit whole that no one is going to come out of).
Fourth, if we buy Saudi oil through the Chinese, even if we tariff it at a high enough rate that someday we can compensate the Saudi people for it, isn't that it's own kind of stealing? We'd be taking the oil and using it (or at least supporting someone else who was doing so) and then compensating the Saudi's long after the fact once they had a kind of government that we deemed just, all with no regard to the will of the people. also if the Chinese buy a billion dollars of oil in 2014, refine it and send it to us, and we put a stupidly high tariff on it, even if we match the amount owed to the Saudi people dollar for dollar, when the king is eventually disposed in 2020, we give them the billion dollars as compensation for what will then be worth hundreds of billions. its like saying "we supported, however indirectly, the guys who took your stuff without asking you, and now we'll pay you what ever the market price for it was when they took it"
Fifth and finally, this only really works for the strait monetary value of the resource, which is fine in a resource like diamonds or other precious minerals. but when it comes to crude oil, iron and copper deposits, coal deposits, there's more going on than monetary compensation can fix. The US has large iron and coal reserves, which is why we have the largest steel industry in the world, and why the US became such an economic powerhouse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If we had sold all of our iron and coal, and even our oil to Europe, even if we had been given just compensation for it, we would have missed out on the most important things those resources gave us: infrastructure. The US's architectural system is immense and supports a strong economy because of our steel, our electricity is constant and reliable because of our native coal, and our transportation infrastructure is secure because of our federal oil reserves. If we bought all the oil coal and steel from a country like Sierra Leone, even if we gave them due compensation, we would still be setting them back by taking away their resources for infrastructure.
Too true. I have no idea how Wenar hasn't accounted for the notion of inflation in his idea to put aside some money from the tariffs and then give it back to the "better government" which is meant to come about at some point in the future.
I agree with your points though, nice comment!
To summarise your points, the solution is flawed because:
1) What is the real basis for determining whether or not a government is sufficiently democratic and so worthy of importing goods from? Why is there some implicit assumption here that democratically accountable government are innately superior. Political relations go deep than the problem of the resource curse. What are we meant to do if we have two political ends in mind but only one way of achieving either end and can only do one way at a time?
2) The drilling for oil and other off-shore resources raises the whole separate question of how are sea-based property rights granted to governments/countries? The solution doesn't really address this problem.
3) This solution would be economically disastrous so long as every other country failed to do the same.
4) The solution assumes that other countries won't all do the same. This isn't only economically disastrous them, but it also is like hiring a middle-man to steal from another country and then buying the stolen-goods off the middle-man. How is this in any way morally justifiable? Furthermore, because of the nature of inflation whenever we decide to pay for the stolen goods the money we give back is practically worthless; if I steal an £80 television off you now and pay you back £80 in 10years you'll be pretty pissed because £80 10 years ago would have been able to buy you more television's than it would in the modern day!
5) This all assumes that it is OK for the government to be selling these natural resources. However some natural resources - such as coal/iron which goes into steel production is the best possible resource to be using in that country at the time, namely for creating infrastructure. In such an example selling the resource is never wise as the resource itself is the best thing that country could buy for the money they get from selling the resource. If such a scenario is realistic then this solution is not optimal for the developing countries.
Was that a fair assessment of your points?
I follow the argument, but not the remedy. Your (country's) economy is based on people doing things like converting oil into products. They make their money working. By not accessing the resources you do not help, as directly as possible, your people and, marginally, harm them. You are therefore stealing 'opportunity' resources from your own people and are, again, in a morally questionable position with the added issue of being a hypocrite. We might instead find a different remedy or claim that, while unethical, this proposed remedy is superior to the known alternatives (ignore, sanction, support revolution/ invasion, or assassinate.).
I think it's very dangerous to start claiming that governments representing the will of the people are the most moral, or the only moral government. It borderline feels like cultural imperialism, especially when you mention the idea that the billion dollar incentive is there to encourage the people to "sort out their government." Even more, that can easily be abused to be handed over to a government that represents the will of the holding nation (i.e. the US might hold that tariff money until a pro-US regime is installed).
All of this leads me to disagree with this idea that governments can actually be moral bodies in and of themselves. The best metric I can come up with is judging individual government officials based on their actions. Likewise, for resource ownership, that probably comes down to what private individual owns the land. When it comes to state owned land, that really brings up the question of how can land be owned in the first place? Who decides? Do we go back all the way to the beginning? What are your views on property ownership in general? It seems illogical to say that individuals can own land (a natural resource) but harvestable natural resources are owned by populations.
@Mathieu Leader Y'know I often wonder who the phantom dislikers are. Pretty much every YouTube video, even the most unobjectionable ones, always have at least one dislike. Maybe YouTube includes them automatically just to stop you getting too cocky.
Google Translate, transliterate 黎安沛 as Lian Pei. If it's pronounced as transliterated, I doubt it's all that hard. Like "Lyan Pay"? (Google is still your friend @Philosophy Tube ^_^)
I believe that natural resources belong to whoever maintains them for future generations. That's not so easy to see for non-renewable resources, but if you're digging up coal, oil or diamonds and converting that resource into something else, I'll consider that to be maintenance.
Beyond that, a nation (or any land) is _owned_ by whoever can, and is prepared to defend it best. Sadly, that usually means which-ever bully has the biggest, or largest stash of guns, and boots on the ground. At times, this has effectively meant that the United States of America _owns_ Iraq and Afghanistan, or that Russia _owns_ Poland, or (further back in time) that Germany _owns_ France. I consider that these are _effective_ truths, regardless of the legal, political or moral "reality".
OK I am convinced to a degree to be extra scrutinizing when it comes to decade long wars of occupation. I agree with what you said about corporate lobbying in politics, it basically runs the show, but some do say it's the only way party agendas would ever get made. You gave me stuff to think about though.
@dangerouslytalented Napoleons election was by general consensus, that's true. He was effectively elected Emperor by his non-military peers, and wasn't even a politician. However, his succession to the throne was hardly a military coup. In fact, he saved the French republic by returning to their defence before he had received any orders to do so, and was hailed a hero. His memory is still well regarded in many places, and many ways.
Wikipedia (not the best source, but I've not dug for exact figures before) shows Adolf Hitler with 43.91% of the popular vote, but only 33.09% of the seats for his National Socialist Workers Party. They already had the controlling proportion of the government, and the coalition formed the Nazi party, and the transformed the government into third Reich... apparently, by popular demand. However, I know there was also considerable conserve about "strong arm" tactics employed by "brown shirts" during elections.
Hitler was not really elected, he had a large minority from which he was able to negotiate a coalition, and was able to manufacture crises in order to take full control as well as simply waiting for the ailing President Hindenburg to die.
And Napoleon simply seized power.
It's time for "Law lessons from a lawyer". In this episode: public law and international public law with a dash of private civil law.
Firstly, in most continental law systems you can sell movable (personal) property and transfer ownership even if you're not the owner provided the buyer doesn't know you're not the owner. This is done to protect the stability of the civil turnover since these deals must be valid otherwise we may face an endless horror chain of void transactions leading to nowhere.
Secondly, natural resources are distinct type of property which is govern by different laws than normal (e.g. bikes, cars, houses) property.
Thirdly, property over natural resources is usually defined in the constitution. They belong to the state (because the state has unlimited authority inside its boarders and can decide what kind of legal status something inside their boarders has). However, since resources need to be mined, the state can give rights to private individuals to mine them for a profit. It makes sense - you invest in mining technology and you deserve to make most of the profit out of this and the state, which can't be bothered or doesn't have the technology to mine them, takes a cut out of the total because it's the owner. It's like letting someone else use your land to grow and harvest corn - you take some money out of this since you're lending your land but the farmer makes most of the cash because they do all the work.
Lastly, in international law all countries are equal. No country has the right to interfere in another's sovereignty. This means it's not up to one country or a group of countries to judge if a government in another country is "illegal". These are internal affairs which only the people of that country can handle. Diplomatic qualifications ofc are normal but they don't have legal ramifications. Officially, if your country is recognized by the UN (self proclaimed countries excluded), no matter how criminal your government is, all other countries treat that government as official representation of said country capable of taking actions on behalf of the country. This is why it's legit for us to buy resources sold by the illegal government because technically there is no such thing as illegal government in international law.
I'm under the impression that the international movements against illegitimate and unsustainable debt are looking to change that last point, and that these movements are pretty efficient at making change happen.
My position on the issue is that natural resources don't necessarily belong to anyone, but since they fall withing the borders of a certain nation state they are under its jurisdiction. And the resources are exploited by those in power because only they can, try taking resources from a crazy guy with guns. And another thing, the example where one country invade another land and take their resources is legit, since the resources don't inherently belong to anyone and the defeated state is not in an position to negotiate or enforce its rights to them. As for the resources belonging to the people, that's a bit problematic since we divide land between land owners,the land owner is the only one with any "real" claim to the resource. They belong to the person under who's jurisdiction they belong and who is able to enforce his clam upon them. I can't really say that I have as much of a right to my neighbors resources as he does. Because 1) I don't have any legal reason to be able to claim that. 2) I am not currently enforcing my right to exploit said resource. While I'm all for democracy and human rights, this plan can't work because even if the UK and a bunch of other countries embargo them they will still find a way to make money of it, smuggling would be a good example of his. This argument might seem a bit harsh of evil but it's my two cents, don't be afraid to criticize I am open to new arguments.
Perfectly acceptable, at least to me. I doubt we have any sort of impervious explanation for any sort of ownership, that doesn't appeal to our nature or our need to function everyday. And yeah, I have my doubts that the solution he proposed would work so well, its much like why cartels fail. Human involvement generally throws most plans aside.
Can one not say that the resources themselves do not belong to anyone, but the labour required to extract / collect and trade the resources themselves clearly "belongs" to the labourers (as they are the ones who perform the work)? This is the very standard, classical labour theory of value, so can it not be used to answer this problem?
I vote for Descartes for the next video.
I'm hesitant to assign a definition to ownership based on no authority but my own, but here I go... it seems to me that ownership of something that someone cannot physically possess (it's impossible to put an oil field in your garage and call it your own) is based entirely on the common agreement on the legitimacy with which someone obtained the "thing." The problem with defining ownership in this situation is figuring out what legitimacy means, which is an incredibly complicated task in the field of international relations. Legitimacy has been measured in a multitude of ways such as popular approval, international recognition, and index variables including component variables everywhere from monopoly of violence to human rights record. All this to say, an agreeable definition of legitimacy and thus an agreeable definition of rightful ownership in non-democracies is really, really far away.
All that remains to discuss is ensuring rents gained from resources are distributed as opposed to concentrated in the coffers of a self-interested government. Putting money aside to incentivize the people of state A to change their regime into a democracy would never have any significant impact on regime change. First off, a billion pounds is very little money in comparison to the rents received by simply continuing to operate a monopoly over even small country's extractive industries. Secondly, even ignoring the problem of the size of the lump sum, the incentive has no clear audience. The lump sum would never be an incentive for the ruling class of the dictatorship because no rational actor would ever replace itself with a different regime in order to see that incentive then go to the new class of power holders. If the incentive is supposed to aim at literally any other group within the state, this would simply be adding an incredibly small prize on top of the already enormous incentive to overthrow a dictator who is effectively denying every group within the state of the enormous resource wealth.
Also, IS IT MIKE RUGNETTA???? I see you two chatting on twitter all the time, it's bound to happen soon.
ps. I'm glad the hickies are gone :P
But then it would be aimed at creating democratic reforms, which still don't equate to increased distribution of oil rents, and could easiliy be misused.
Case and point: Saddam Hussein regularly held elections to accurately measure popular opinion among Iraqis without ever having to give up power. I could cite many, many examples of dominant power politics that include democratic reforms without ever actually giving up any power or privilege.
What I said (or tried to, anyway) was that is not necessary for us to be able to decide on the truth value of modal statements, not that they are all false. In other words, I said those truth values might be unknowable, and that's OK.
And, I still see no reason why all modal statements should be knowable.
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