chapter  7
19 Pages

Capturing Resource Windfalls

The natural wealth of nations, from their forests to their rivers, existed long before nations themselves. From the point of view of the commercial economy, natural wealth is an economic windfall. It is manna from Earth, free for the taking-as if nature had set the stage for the industrial revolution by sprinkling cash across the landscape. Yet when industrial society has bent over to pick up this found money, the collective natural inheritance has usually ended up lining the pockets of the few-from investors in mining companies who take free gold from public lands to timber tycoons who use bribes to obtain cheap logging rights in the rainforest.