Vast fortunes are still being made on coal
MONTE CARLO, Monaco –- Sergei Pugachev’s rise in the shady world of post-perestroika Russian finance to the ranks world’s oligarch billionaires might have occurred with scarcely a mention in the general media – if not for the high profile of his consort, Alexandra Tolstoy, and flash company like Catherine Deneuve.
Like his counterparts in the United States, his fortunes have risen and fallen. This week they appear to be on the rise as he reportedly sold a coal mine in Russia for $2 billion.
A couple of billion doesn’t get you very high up the list of billionaires published by Forbes magazine.
It does place the former Senator of Tuva (he was removed from the post) in the vicinity of others who’ve made a fortune on coal, however.
Sergei Pugachev as seen by cartoonist Aaron Ernst erringer33.com blog.
More interesting still is the fact that Moscow boasts more billionaires than any other city in the world – surprising for a country that was run by a communist party into the 1980s. This is the result of the breakup of the Soviet Union: The country was looted. There’s plenty of history there: Iran, oil, Saudi Arabia and Ronald Reagan are key terms.
Some argue that something similar is happening in the United States and in Europe but here it has names like privatization, tax abatement, outsourcing, etc.
What may be more obvious to some is that huge profits are taken from the energy resources that drive economic activity worldwide. Oligarchs like Sergei Popov, Pugachev, et al in Russia; Don Blankenship (former Massey Energy CEO) and Jim Justice (sold Bluestone coal to Russian interests for a reported $400 million). These resources also create environmental challenges (not to mention disasters) of concern to all human beings. Management of these resources and challenges is a public interest.
Cooperative international management of energy resources and utilities should be considered and not simply on the principle (for instance, that the energy resources on the Earth are the products of the universe and not “man-made” items of property). Rather, it is the conservation of those resources, the protection of people and the environment that is foremost. How can the safety and environmental challenges (challenges that increase with growing consumption) be met if the financial resources are in Luxembourg or in Swiss or offshore bank accounts, the accountholders kicking back in Monte Carlo or aboard megayachts or skiing in Gstaad or Davos?
International management of energy resources by the people — is a lofty goal. Regulation that emphasizes conservation with taxes directed toward environmental funds might be more feasible. To even begin, however, government (let’s start with our own) must be taken out of the hands or the oligarchs and corporate interests. More information and plans for action can be found at Movetoamend.org.
Also see: Green Party of the United States