Nationalization Is Theft
November 25, 2008
Washington, D.C.--A huge Venezuelan gold project known as Las Cristinas is the latest victim of dictator Hugo Chavez’s long-running socialist power grab. “This mine will be seized and managed by a state administration” with help from the Russians, said Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz. Rights to the mine had been purchased by a Canadian company, Crystallex International Corporation.
“It’s not surprising that brutes like Chavez grab gold, oil, and other resources from the companies that discover and mine them,” said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “What’s more puzzling is the lack of moral indignation at a system that condones the theft of private property.
“Ownership of natural resources belongs by right to the companies whose entrepreneurs, engineers, and drillers transform hidden potential into actual wealth. Government’s role is to protect those owners’ rights, not violate them.
“Just as a bodyguard’s task is protecting clients from physical attacks, a government’s function is safeguarding people and property against criminals and foreign invaders. A bodyguard who claimed to own his client’s house, cars, and jewelry would be immediately fired. Yet governments continue to claim a moral right to all natural resources within their borders, as if ownership could be conjured from the barrel of a gun.
“Power-grasping dictators like Venezuela’s Chavez and Russia’s Putin assert moral authority to treat foreign investors the way they treat their own citizens--as cattle to be herded, milked, or slaughtered for society’s sake. But nationalization, stripped of all rationalization, is naked theft. A blow for justice will be struck by the first public figure to denounce it as such.”
### ### ###
Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on legal issues. Mr. Bowden is a former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
For more articles by Thomas Bowden, and his bio, click here.