A lengthy story in the Los Angeles Times this morning details the determination of mining companies to cut a deal with the Navajo nation, which covers 27,000 square miles and is deemed the “Saudi Arabia of uranium,” to extract the resource from tribal land.
The article, well worth a read for its overview of the sordid history of environmental disasters perpetrated on tribal land and the current legal rulings regarding impact on nearby towns, contains a nugget that really needs to be pondered in modern-day America in terms of what corporations think democracy looks like.
You see, Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr., , sick of getting phone calls from eager mining companies and on guard because of swindles and broken promises in the past, signed an executive order instructing tribe employees to avoid any "communications with uranium company representatives" and to report any contacts to the Navajo attorney general. (Apparently there is no such thing as a “do not call” registry for corporations lusting after a sovereign entity’s resources.)
This directive “infuriated mining executives,” according to the Times, leading to this interesting – and revealing – outburst from one such infuriated executive:
"You tell me, what kind of a democracy is that?" asked John DeJoia, a Strathmore vice president. "They've got tremendous resources out there. They're a very poor nation. That could change."
In Mr. Dejoia’s world, apparently just saying “no” is antithetical to democracy. Think about the implications of this for a moment. If an individual or entity decides it’s not interested in a deal corporate America offers, if some company wants something badly from you and you refuse, if you decide the monetary trade-off is not worth the exchange ... well, then, you’re simply undermining (no pun intended) democracy.
In a “free” market, apparently the only “free” democratic answer when a corporation comes knocking is an eager and unequivocal “yes.”