Who owns the resources — oil, gas, minerals, water, etc.?
Over at Open Left David Sirota writes about The Politics of Oil/Gas Taxes Moves to New Geographic Battlegrounds
Twenty-eight states have severance taxes on such commodities – that is, taxes assessed when the commodity (in this case, natural gas) is severed from the earth. The idea behind these taxes is that these natural resources are inherently both a public resource and a finite resource, and therefore the private corporations severing them should give back to the public coffers a small fraction of the value of that resource. In many states, these tax revenues are devoted to trust funds for public goods like education.
If people had a strong understanding of democracy, they would look at the issue this way: We, the People want to develop a resource that we own in common. We want minerals extracted and processed for us to use. To do so we “hire” a company to do this for us. As payment, as the company sells the resources they get to keep some — only some — of the proceeds for themselves.