Hawks Want Iraqi Oil — for Iraqis!
|April 18, 2007||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Hawks Want Iraqi Oil — for Iraqis!
The US’s right wing wants Iraq oil shared now
Iraq has a lot of oil, but the Iraqi people have very little money. Almost all the revenue from oil goes to corruption. But it doesn’t have to be that way, not if some right wing voices – echoed by left wing pundits – are heard. If it’s good enough for Alaska, it should suit Iraq as well.
by Jeffery J. Smith
Presidential candidate Tommy Thompson told ABC’s “This Week” that Iraqs oil revenues should be shared as does Alaska, with a split “to every man, woman and child.” This liberal recommendation comes from a Republican who describes himself as the reliable conservative. (CNN, 2007 April first) No joking; Thompson is but the latest right-winger to call for sharing oil revenue.
George Schultz, ex of Ronald Reagans cabinet who came from Bechtel (which, among other activities, rebuilds foreign nations after US wars tear them apart), on the TV show Charlie Rose a couple years back just before Christmas (2005 Dec 22) said: Some portion of the oil revenues [should] be put into a trust and then distributed to the people of Iraq.
From the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, their commentator, Ariel Cohen, wrote: As in the Alaska model, part of the [oil] revenue should be distributed directly to the bank accounts of every Iraqi. (2004 March 4, Backgrounder #1730)
Paul Bremer, while the US administrator of Iraq, wrote in The New York Times (2003 July 13): We believe that a method should be found to assure that every citizen benefits from Iraq’s oil wealth. One possibility would be to pay social benefits from a trust financed by oil revenues. Another could be to pay an annual cash dividend directly to each citizen from that trust.
Both Republican Senators from Alaska, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, plus another oil-state senator, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) urged the Bush administration to consider the oil dividend for Iraqis (Los Angeles Times, 2003 May 1)
A former Exxon executive, Bruce M. Everett, when safely at Tufts University, wrote in The Christian Science Monitor (2003 September16): Iraq should distribute its oil revenues directly to its 25 million citizens, with each individual receiving $600 to $700 per year or $3,000 to $3,500 for a family of five. Beyond supporting basic human needs, much of this cash would be invested in small businesses, services, agriculture, and the other ingredients of a vibrant economy without political strings.
The press, both conservative and, well, hardly liberal by European standards, echoed the call, including The Financial Times (London) and The Wall Street Journals Deputy Editor George Melloan (2003 April 15 and 22). The New America Foundation in Washington DC pushed the Iraqi oil dividend on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS (2003 April) and in The New York Times (2003 April 9). The Washington Post (2003 April 13) and The Los Angeles Times ran op-eds, the latter by Barbara Ehrenreich (2003 May 2).
Lesser known publications beat the same drum: New Yorks Newsday, The Washington Times (2003 Feb 21), UPI (2003 May 14), The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Daily Oklahoman, The Tulsa World, The Edmonton Journal, The Record of Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario), and Pensions and Investments (magazine).
Foreign Affairs published an article, Saving Iraq From Its Oil (2004 July 20, Volume 83 No. 4) stating, There is only one way for Iraq to resist the oil curse: by handing over the proceeds directly to the Iraqi people.
Pennsylvanias Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, said we should have made some payment from Iraq’s oil revenues to each citizen; as little as $20 each would tell Iraqis that we viewed it as their oil, not ours (MSNBC with Chris Mathews). Reason on line (2005) and The Weekly Standard (2005 September 6) made similar arguments.
Besides for Iraq, an oil dividend is promoted for other places, too. The IMF did so for Nigeria (IMF Working Paper No. 03/139). Newsweek International mentioned the oil dividend as one way to reform Russias oil industry (2005 Sept. 12). Eluniversal.com (2005 August 9) and Petroleum.com published Michael Rowans The Sinkhole, which urged an oil dividend for Venezuelans.
Besides the ongoing dividend, theres a one-time dividend. In oil-rich New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson (his press release of 2003 October 22) and prominent members of the state legislature advocated a $50 tax rebate per person. In early 2006, Alberta shared its oil revenue surplus with residents, sending out one-time checks of $C 400 (Globe & Mail, 2005 November 10).
The New York Times (2003 September 10) opined: Divide the money equally. Give each Iraqi his share on the first day of every month. That is essentially the same idea in vogue among liberal foreign aid experts, conservative economists and a diverse group of political leaders in America and Iraq.
No wonder the wide consensus. Its an easy call to make. Oil is extremely valuable and absolutely labor-free; that pricey gooey stuff lying underground got there without the help of anyone and even untouched its worth a fortune.
So how long must the Iraqis and the rest of the world wait? Perhaps until a US president actually mandates it. Then after the Iraqis, may the rest of the world be next.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
Op-Ed on Healing Society, Citizens Dividends
Natural Resource Values Should Benefit Citizens, Not Corrupt …
Citizen Revenue Distribution Funds — Oil and Iraq
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