I suppose this has been sparked as a result of yesterday's post, and also a few other things running around my head lately. But something has been bugging me about Americans' consumption of natural resources produced in other countries. Namely, that we Americans casually purchase luxury items that are costing people lives in other countries, such diamonds that are mined by slave labor in Africa, gold coming from crooked mines in South America or oil that is found in unstable countries. A common complaint is that we Americans turn a blind eye to tragedy around the world just so we can be surrounded by shinies. Case in point: A civil war in the Congo is being raged concerning, among other things, the mineral rights to mines that produce coltan, a necessary metal used in the production of computer chips found in CD players, cell phones and Play Station video game consols. The argue is that lives are being lost in Africa just so we Americans can live comfortably. However, it should be noted that Americans' desires shouldn't be seen a zero-sum game. People don't NEED to die just so we can have coltan. It's just an unfortunate reality that it happens to be in a country with such a negative background. As for Americans turning a blind eye, there may be truth to that, by cognitive dissonance is what allows all human beings to operate. I've been around protestors and activists who are "always on." They want to talk about misfortune all the time. But we can't live like that. Unfortunate side affects aside, we shouldn't suffer as a society just because another society does. Let's face it, the problems in the Congo are fairly self-inflicted. So are many of the issues effecting other mineral operations, be it oil, gold or diamonds. The fact that Americans want these things isn't evil. The fact is these countries refuse to move past their racist tones within their borders. Naturally, the shadow of colonialism in many of these countries runs long, so it can't be discounted that even less that 50 years many of these nations were merely puppet states of a European power. But the problem is that killing somebody instead of working together is what screws up these countries, not Americans' desire for consumer gizmos and bling. We have plenty of mineral deposits here in the U.S., but no one gets killed for them. Properties are regularly passed from owner to owner without a single bullet shot. It CAN be done. So are we profiting off other people's misery? Possibly, but we could just as well be profiting off their prosperity. All they have to do is set down their guns, burn all those damn Karl Marx books, kick anyone spouting ignorant 19th century rants out of office and just get a job. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; spayne@hartenergy.com