On first reading the following report that I provide below in full, I could not but help feel that probably this is the best thing to do: cut a state agency designed to help small mining exploration companies. Sounds like it was an expensive waste of money. And yet, as this thought struck me, I realized how deep into Tea Party ideals I have slide, in spite of intellectual attempts to resist.
For if I am sliding into Tea Party support, how many more must be on that route as we grow tired of money wasted setting up government organizations to help out smaller and smaller interest groups. In this case, my misgivings arose because of the fact that this pork-barrel waste was set up to help mining and the mining industry in Arizona.
But then you could argue that the taxpayer should not have to fund the finding of mines by tiny Canadian outfits too ill-funded to do their own baseline exploration geology.
PS. After posting this comment, two insightful comments were posted. I recommend reading the comments. They remind us just how deep the cuts that may be made to balance budgets, favor favorites, or keep from increasing taxes. The comments remind usof the services we have come to rely on, take for granted, and expect from the civilized government of a well-run state. This is a tragedy that brings home to the mining industry recent political events and tides; here we see the consequences of a change in the way society organizes itself; this is but the first of many changes we may not like and may not support; unless we are prepaired to take a very different view of what constitutes public services and the retention of the trappings of a culture. Maybe this is but another instance of the commons over-run; maybe this is a acute instance of the fundamnatal question: how much tax are we prepaired to pay to support the common good, the retention of history, the security of public information. The alternative is the power of money and of individuals with access to resources and knowledge as opposed to the right of the commons to the accumulated information of the past stored in libraries and museums.
I cannot but be conflicted. Part of me supports the good of the commons and the storing of knowledge in a way that makes it accessible to all, regardless of race, religion, or ethinic origins. Part of me supports the need for the user to pay. Once again Arizona leads the way in posing the questions and seeking answers. Maybe now ht emining industry should also stand up and make a comment, for this must be but a small begining of future vast changes that will affect how exploration and mining is done in the times ahead.
Here is the report:
The state Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, which helps companies looking to dig for minerals in Arizona, will close Friday because it’s out of money, the director said Wednesday.
Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed moving its duties to the state Geological Survey when the new fiscal year begins in July, but the department with three employees and three contract workers doesn’t have the money to last that long after recent budget cuts, Director Madan Singh said.
“We would have needed supplemental funds to complete this fiscal year, and they’ve decided this is the time to close us down,” he said.
The department was created in 1939 to promote mining in Arizona, and last year, it provided 410 customers with information about mines and minerals in the state, according to the governor’s executive budget summary.
Turning its duties over to the Geological Survey will save the state $220,000 a year, according to the report. But the governor also proposes transferring $100,000 to the Geological Survey to digitize the department’s mineral records.
Downsizing of the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources began last summer when the Legislature transferred the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum from the department to the state Historical Society.
The museum is scheduled to close this summer and reopen as the Centennial Museum, although not in time for the actual state centennial celebration in February 2012.
The people who will lose their jobs when the department closes include Singh, a mining engineer who conducts economic analyses of the industry, and a clerk who helps with data inquiries. The department also has three contract workers, including one who visits schools to talk about the economic benefits of mining in Arizona.
The contract workers could be transferred to the Geological Survey, which might also have money to hire part of the staff, but “the situation is very fluid,” Singh said.
The department’s main duty is to help companies interested in mining in Arizona.
“The people that normally come to us are the smaller companies that don’t have a lot of information in their own files,” Singh said. “We tell them where some past deposits have been explored and help them dealing with various agencies like (the Department of Environmental Quality) and Water Resources.”
Singh said he is disappointed to leave his job of more than five years. “I think we were doing the state and the mining industry a service, especially the new (companies) coming in that would in the long run help the state,” he said. “They create jobs and produce minerals, which we need.”
Some geology enthusiasts said the job cuts could hurt the industry. “The new mining people that come in won’t know how to access the (mining and mineral) records,” said Mardy Zimmerman, a retired teacher who is on the board of the Friends of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, a non-profit.
“The records will be in storage when our economy could really use the new mining jobs,” she said. “We have the richest copper deposits, and we are hindering the development and furthering of mining in our state.”
She also said the job cuts don’t bode well for the museum and its plans to close and reopen as the Centennial Museum.
Zimmerman helped develop a program to teach children about minerals at the museum, and she said that losing the Department of Mines and Mineral Resource employees and moving the museum to the Historical Society could take away the scientific focus at the museum.