The Commons and the Resources

The Commons and the Resources
David Schlecht

We’ve discussed the need to protect the commons in prior posts. Still, there are many people who don’t grasp the importance of protecting our commons. I’ll illustrate an important aspect of protecting the commons by looking at the crime of exploiting our resources for greed and profit.

In our example we’ll use the idea of exploiting oil even though this applies to all of our resources.

Let’s take the position that I am an oil tycoon and am spending millions of dollars each month to ensure that people continue to use my oil and continue to make billions of dollars in profit for me. Let’s say that I’m even pathological enough to discourage people from believing the catastrophic truth about the negative effects of using my products.

In 40 years I pass my empire on to my children and they pass it along to their children and on and on until it’s the year 2500 and every drop of oil is gone.

Along comes 2501 and the world is faced with a disaster that only oil can resolve.

What I have done as well as my children and grand children is steal the resources from our future children. I’ve taken something from the earth that belongs to every one of us and exploited it to make me stinkingly rich, here, now, today. I have taken the resources away from any future generation that may actually have a use for them that could help everyone.

We all need to start to expect that there should be restrictions on exploiting our non-renewable resources for greed and profit, expect that we would all find it important to protect our resources, especially the ones we can’t get back once they’re squandered.

Even renewable resources need to be protected. Our water supplies are renewable but no one should be allowed to make money by selling something that we all need to survive on this planet. This foolishness will only lead to a shortage of water while some have it all. It always comes to pass that those things that are in the most demand are owned, hoarded, exploited, and controlled by the wealthy.

Resources such as food or lumber are renewable but are also of limited quantity. There is only so much lumber we can grow and so much food.  Both of these must come from the earth which we are all responsible for. If we leave it up to the greedy to strip the land of all ability to grow food and lumber we will be allowing them to get rich while all the rest of us will have to deal with the barren, toxic wasteland the greedy will leave behind.

Sooner or later we will all begin to realize that we are all responsible for this earth we share. And the only way to be responsible for it and to protect it is to have reasonable limitations on how it can be exploited for profit.

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