The Rule Of Law
Commentary by Harold Hough
Okay, we may not like all laws, especially when we see those flashing lights behind us when we are speeding. However, laws set the parameters of a civilization for both the average person and the official. They not only let us know how far we can go, they allow us to make decisions and investments based on the certainty they give us.
Mining especially requires these laws. We need to know that the mineral rights bought today will not change tomorrow. We need to know the regulations so we can plan a mine. We need to have a degree of certainty about tax laws and investment write offs so we can project if the mine will be profitable. And, just as important, we need to know that government officials will obey the same laws too.
Unfortunately, under the current administration, there are two standards – the law that must be obeyed by the average person and company and the “above the law” standard that applies to government officials who know the law, but chose to ignore it because they don’t like it.
During the three years it has been in power, the Obama Administration has made it a practice to ignore any law it doesn’t like. Obama decided to reverse the legal order of creditors in the bailout of a bankrupt Chrysler Corporation to favor his political supporters. The administration does not like the Defense of Marriage Act, and therefore announced that it won’t enforce it. It has decided to ignore the federal crime of entering the country illegally by suing any state that enforces federal immigration law. It recess appointed federal officials that required Senate approval even when the Senate wasn’t in recess.
Obama’s disregard for the law also extends to the mineral extraction industry. When a federal judge struck down an Obama- administration ban on new leases for gas and oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama for a time ignored the injunction. When there was a BP leak in the Gulf, Obama met with officials and then announced that they had agreed to a $20 billion damage fund. Aren’t damages something that courts are to decide? Meanwhile he illegalledbillions to insolvent solar energy company that are competing with coal companies for energy production – solar companies owned by political cronies.
This sure wasn’t the Obama that complained about the constitutional excesses of President Bush during the war on terror. In fact, he has embraced anti-terrorism surveillance, Guantanamo, military tribunals, preventive detention, the Patriot Act. He even committed the American military to a war in Libya without even asking permission of the Congress.
So, what is behind this mindset? Two things. The first is Obama’s belief that the American Ideal of the past two centuries is wrong and must be changed. He wants a society that redistributes wealth and penalizes the rich. He also wants to destroy those parts of America that he doesn’t like – coal mining, individual initiative, gasoline powered vehicles, profit, capitalism, etc.
The second factor in his mindset is pure Chicago politics – law is not found in law books but in the desires of those in power. If the person in power wants a certain outcome, that person twists the “laws” to meet his needs. Therefore, Chrysler bondholders, who by federal law are first in line to get their money back, are pushed to the back of the line so the “workers” (read the unions) get their money.
The mining industry can’t operate in this atmosphere. We need laws that are observed, not skirted by officials. We need an administration that thinks that mining is beneficial and will not use the full power of the federal government to quash it through litigation or illegal acts. We need laws that allow a mining company to know when and where it can mine and how it will make a profit, while guaranteeing creditors that their rights will be protected.
As we enter another presidential election season, I encourage you to look at the candidates and ask yourself which of them will respect the rule of law and not use their power to strike an illegal blow against the mining industry.