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So why don’t we just nationalise the mining companies?

For once I agree with Kevin Rudd.  The minerals in the ground belong to all of us. So why not just nationalise the mining companies and spread the wealth around to working people?

The wealth of the mines comes from their workers and is realised in the exchange process with the likes of China and India, ie through the wealth Chinese and Indian and other workers create. 

So why not nationalise the mines under workers’ control?

Support for this comes from an unlikely quarter – Ken Henry himself.  His report says that governments have a range of options for obtaining a return from resource exploitation. Apart from a resource rent tax one of those options is public ownership. The report says:

Public production allows the government to control exploration and production expenditure, but may lower the return to the community if public enterprise is less efficient at resource exploration and production due to a lack of expertise and market discipline.

The efficiency argument can be easily answered. Put the mine workers in charge of the mines. Let’s decide democratically what is to be done.

And as we progress production under workers’ control becomes production to satisfy human need and moves away for the old crisis ridden alienating cut throat anti-human production for profit.

Labor’s Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) means the government in effect covers 40% of the costs of mining projects through the tax system, but will get only 40% of the super profits in return.

In other words the mining companies are getting a good deal. Government bears 40% of the risk but gets in effect an ownership slice of returns of only about 25%.

And of that governmental slice of economic rent Kevin Rudd is going to use much of it to prop up other businesses through reduced company tax rates and accelerated depreciation. Rudd’s RSPT is about spreading the super profits of one section of the bourgeoisie to bolster the profits of other sectors.

So why don’t we just nationalise these mining companies and as a community control the exploitation of mineral resources and make sure the benefits go to working people, not into the pockets of less profitable businesses?



Pingback from Tweets that mention En Passant » So why don’t we just nationalise the mining companies? —
Time May 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm

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Comment from Jennifer Marohasy
Time May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am

If they were nationalised, who would run them? Chances are Rudd would put someone like Peter Garrett in charge? There are many nations, particularly in Africa, rich in natural resources but they don’t make their citizens rich because they are not run properly.

Comment from Arjay
Time May 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Yes Jennifer.Who would run them? Perhaps we could have a batts in your belfy iron ore company.BYB instead of BHP.We could pay to have the ore taken out and then pay again to put it back in ground.

Much of people’s super money is tied up in resources.They haven’t spent the stimulus too well, so what would they do with the minerals and energy resources?

Comment from John
Time May 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I think that the issue of nationalisation was settled once and for all 60 years ago, when ben chifley tried to nationalise the banks. The truth of the matter is that under Kevin Rudds hair brained scheme, this resource is going to be worth less and less, as these companies go offshore.
The old story, if you want something to expand you subsidise it, if you want something to shrink you tax it.

Comment from John
Time May 5, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Who would run the mines? What about the workers who currently do all the work? Not Peter Garrett or Kevin Rudd or some faceless bureaucrat but the workers at the mines through democratic meetings?

I see Wall Street private enterprise is doing such a good job maybe we should ask Goldman Sachs to run them.

Let me stress again – nationalise under workers’ control. That’s not the Ben Chifley model, or the faceless bureaucrat or Labor Party hack model. It’s a completely new, democratic, model.

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