2007, seems to be plagued by cost increases wherever we look. ‘Twas always thus in a new year, wasn’t it.’

The first example leaves you with a serves-you-right feeling. I refer to the news that Bolivian miners (not the international companies, but the true patriots) are upset at President Morales’ threat to increase the nation ICM mining export tax by 600 percent.

The second is sadder, but a sign of the workings of the European Commission at its best and worst. I refer to the news that the commission’s plans for chemical policy reform—harmonization of chemical regulations across Europe may increase cost to mining companies.

And no doubt the sought-after increase by miners at the Irish Galmoy mine will increase cost to many, even though it may put more in the pockets of many.

This is a triad of woes & worries, aspirations & improvements at work: politics, regulators, and labor. The usual three. The fascinating thing is that one either side of each of these debates that m ay lead to cost increases are people convinced their cause is right, their actions proper, and justice on their side.

It makes you wonder if there is such a thing as the absolute truth; if there is indeed such a thing as justice; if there is even a balance somewhere between right and wrong. As a pessimist I think there is not, in spite of Plato and the cave in which resides reality that we see only as a shadow on the wall. I prefer to think of these three cost struggles as more evidence of the competition of memes, those packets of cultural information that transfer from one mind to another and compete for success in the market place of ideas and action.

Or maybe this is just a plain old class struggle at work—the upper class trying to maximize their income and resources at the expense of the lower classes; the haves trying to have more and leave less for those with less. Or are these three stories of advances of the condition of human beings and evidence of what the optimist in me believes is a slow but steady improvement in the human lot? I would love to hear what you think.