Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Hits

Just a couple of items to pass on: John Mauldin's latest letter presents a very good summary of the subprime mess and how we got here. The WSJ had a good story showing the effects of environmentalism (viz. keeping people poor). It also exposes some of the tactics environmentalists so often use, including failing to present all the facts, and failing to compare the alternatives. A few excerpts from it:
While the film gives time to supporters and opponents of the mine, it leaves unsaid that half of the villagers voicing opposition have now either sold their homes or will not have to move, because they live in a protected area where the village's historic structures and churches will be preserved. Viewers who see pristine shots of the Rosia valley won't realize the hills hide a huge, abandoned communist-era mine, leaking toxic heavy metals into local streams--or that while the modern mining project will level four hills to create an open pit, it will also clean up the old mess at no cost to the Romanian treasury.
[...]
And there's the rub. Rosia Montana needs a cleanup and development. Three-quarters of its 600 families lack indoor toilets, unemployment tops 70% and the only truly viable crop is potatoes. In "Mine Your Own Business," Andrei Jurca, the local dentist, tells Mr. McAleer "we don't need foreign advocates. We are smart enough to take our own fate in our own hands." Other villagers note that concerns about Gabriel's use of cyanide in gold mining are misplaced. Seven out of nine existing gold mines in European Union countries use cyanide and the allowable limits in Rosia Montana will be lower than all of them.

Perhaps local unemployed miner Gheorghe Lucian says it best: "People have no food to eat. . . . I know what I need--a job." Mr. Soros's Romanian Open Society Foundation is touting "alternative economic activities such as organic agriculture and eco-tourism," unrealistic at best. Stefania Simon, legal counsel for the anti-mine group Alburnus Maior, has no answer for Mr. Lucian. "Unemployment is a problem, but it will not be solved by mining," she told Britain's Guardian newspaper. Noting that Gabriel has only a 17-year lease to mine, she says, "This is a solution for the short term." But right now, even non-permanent jobs and any cleanup of the existing pollution looks like a good deal to people like Mr. Lucian.

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