“[There is] a general economic maxim: public [government] resources are really private, owned and exploited by a political elite, while private resources are really public, owned and managed by a multitude. Government-owned resources do not ‘belong to all of the people’ and allow ‘self determination;’ they belong to none or a very few.”
– R. Bradley, Foreword to G. Yeatts, Subsurface Wealth: The Struggle for Privatization in Argentina (Foundation for Economic Education, 1997), pp. xv–xvi.
The recent reform of Mexico’s Constitution to allow private investment (up to $20 billion in production-sharing agreements) still leaves state-owned PEMEX with a legal monopoly for oil and gas development inside the country. But it is a start at reform that may turn into a deregulatory, privatization dynamic.
More, indeed, awaits to open the energy sector internal and external competition and to foreign investment in any amounts:
1) Competition to PEMEX in all oil and gas areas should be legalized;
2) PEMEX shares be allocated to the country’s private citizens;
3) Subsoil mineral rights should be assigned–with deed of title–to the (private) surface owners of land.…
[The greatest opportunity for wealth creation in many poor countries is oil and gas development. In particular, subsoil privatization can incite resourceship and democratize wealth as explained by Guillermo “Billy” Yeatts in Subsoil Privatization for Energy Sustainability. The following post by Cyril Boynes, Jr. co-chair of the Congress of Racial Equality Uganda, contributes to this discussion.]
I am of a Christian background. However, one of my favorite people was Jewish, and another is Muslim.
The Jewish man was business professor and author Julian Simon. He taught that people are the world’s most valuable resource, and the “ultimate resource” is our creative intellect.
The Muslim is Bangladeshi banker and economist Muhammad Yunus. He says “poor people are like bonsai trees,” planted in a little pot. “There is nothing wrong with their seeds.…
Editor Note: This post complements a previous entry at MasterResource by Guillermo Yeatts,
Subsoil Oil and Gas Privatization: Private Wealth for the Common Good.]
Government intervention in free markets is prefaced on market failure. But no such rationale explains why federal and state governments have owned and managed hydrocarbon-bearing onshore and offshore lands. Government involvement can be explained by little more than the historical precedent of sovereign ownership of unowned property and of habit.
In a private property world, surface and subsurface areas would be unowned until the positive acts of discovery and intent to use. Under the “homestead” theory of first property title, the state of nature (unowned area) would not be the property of government but the first resource entrepreneur who, in the immortal words of John Locke, “tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can use the product of” the surface or subsurface to “enclose it from the common.”…