Thursday, May 09, 2013

"Extractivism" Becomes Radical Left's New Anti-Capitalist Canard

I recently learned a new word:  "extractivism."  The dictionary definition is specific to forestry but left-wing polemicists apply it to any mining, pumping, or harvesting activity.  I have no problem with governments assessing land use fees for resource extraction on publicly-owned common land.  The US federal government does this all the time in granting exploration rights to drillers when they prospect on federal land.  I do have a problem with radical political philosophies that demand exorbitant state control of all private resource production.

Hefty resource fees may sound nice in populist rhetoric.  In reality they lead to rentier states as private investors become priced out of an economy.  Resource nationalism turned Venezuela from a productive economy into a nightmare of repression.  Progressives who praise Hugo Chavez for snatching resources from "extractivist" multinational corporations are really to blame for that country's mounting problems.  The Heritage Foundation rates Venezuela as an exceedingly horrible place to engage in productive enterprise but leftists don't mind as long as extractivism is punished.  Socialists learned nothing from the fall of the Soviet Union.  Centrally planned economies do not deliver prosperity for people, and anti-extractivist resource policies destroy the private capital formation modern economies need.

It's time to reclaim this word for the thinking world.  I'm proud to be an extractivist.  It's great that large corporations go through the trouble of turning the planet's natural resources into goods that enhance our civilization.  I admire wildcatters and prospectors who brave wilderness to locate new sources of material wealth.  Extractivists of the world, unite.  We have nothing to lose but our Luddites.