Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Iraqis Learn Nothing

The current Iraqi government is hard at work trying to emulate all those other states who have nationalized their oil industry. Too bad. As indicated below, the Iranians and Venezuelans haven't had a lot of luck with that central planning thing. Nevertheless, the Iraqis seem headed down the same sad path:

In its current form, the legislation envisions the re-creation of an Iraqi state oil company, and it gives broad latitude to officials from the country's various regions to encourage foreign investment and development.

Here's an oil worker's union official:

"History will not forgive those who play recklessly with our wealth," he said. "We consider the new law unbalanced and incoherent with the hopes of those who work in the oil industry. It has been drafted in a great rush in harsh circumstances."

What exactly does he mean by "our wealth"?

The rhetoric echoes the sentiment of many everyday Iraqi citizens. The nationalization of the Iraqi oil industry in the 1970s under Saddam Hussein remains a point of pride for many Iraqis, and opposition still runs deep to any hint of foreign interference.

Why not form a company and distribute shares to every Iraqi citizen? If the oil truly belongs to the Iraqi people, why does the government get to decide how the wealth is distributed? Why does the government get to decide if foreign companies can do business in Iraq? Distributing shares could also go a long way toward solving the political problems. If every Iraqi owned shares in the company, there would not need to be a method for distributing oil revenues among the provinces. The violence in Iraq is about money and power, but primarily money from the oil sector. That needs to be removed as an obstacle to peace. The best way to do that is by distributing the wealth in the only truly fair way - private ownership for every Iraqi citizen.

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