In the Gospel of John, Jesus states that those who do what is right do so in the light, while wrong-doers shroud their deeds in secrecy and darkness. The recent tragedies of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the mining accident in West Virginia reveal the perils of allowing oil, mining, and other companies that profit from extracting natural resources to conduct their operations in the shadows. That is why so many in the faith community are strongly supporting an amendment to the financial reform bill that would require greater transparency for these companies.
The Cardin/Lugar Revenue Transparency Amendment to the Financial Service Reform Bill would require extraction companies to report what they pay to foreign governments. Why is this important? Because oil, gas, and mining revenues are critically important economic sectors in about 60 developing and transitioning countries. Paradoxically, these "resource-rich" countries are also home to more than two-thirds of the world's poorest people and have been home to horrific acts of violence committed by those seeking to exploit those resources. Corruption and greed born of secrecy has led to the exploitation and oppression of thousands of people.
Requiring that extraction companies report what they pay to foreign governments is good for everyone. It is good for the poor whose governments secretly make billions from extraction companies, because it gives them the leverage to require that the revenues from their natural resources be used for economic and social development. It is good for U.S. companies because it combats corruption and levels the playing field by requiring both foreign and U.S. based-extraction companies to be transparent in their business deals. It is good for Christians and others of goodwill seeking to be responsible consumers by reducing the chance that the money we spend on gas will finance governments that impoverish their own people, harbor terrorists, or promote genocide.
The amendment has bipartisan support, it's good policy, and it'll make the world a little more just. Now it just needs our Senators to do the right thing and ensure that it passes. It is beyond time to bring the deals of extraction companies out of the shadows and into the light.