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Do as we say, not as we do: part 3

21 June 2010

Matt Yglesis, whom I’ve presented before as “Exhibit A” of  ingrained U.S. imperialism, even from (or especially from) the “progressives”.  His latest attempts to paint a smiley face on good old fashioned paternalism comes from the view of a person in a country with an over-dependence on resources, trying to solve our “problem” with having those resources.

Chana Joffe-Walt has a worthwhile podcast about one solution for countries facing the resource curse: “Take all money that comes in from foreign companies — for lithium in Afghanistan, oil in Nigeria, natural gas in Bolivia — and give it to the citizens. Literally have a government official sit down with piles of cash, maybe with some international oversight, and divvy it up.”

… you can’t [create a giant slush fund] in high-corruption countries. So maybe this whole post is pointless. Or maybe this is a service the World Bank could provide—insured deposits at some modest rate of return for resource rich poor countries.

What counts as a “high-corruption country”? One like the United States that can’t control money laundering, and where extractive industries buy politicians … legally? And where extractive industry royalties have always been a political football (think of the Texas Land Commissioner scandals over the last 100 years)? And where even the concept of making an extractive industry put up an escrow to pay for environmental damage is somehow a controversial issue?

And… why — corrupt or not — would a nation trust a foreign banking organization to “invest” it’s own money in “insured deposits”: which means the money is invested in financial instruments (like mortgages and developments) in the rich countries, not in their own nation?

And, why are profits considered a “slush fund” when a nation administers them, but somehow honorable when managed by the World Bank or, as in the United States, by such upstanding organizations as British Petroleum?

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