Commodifying Big Skies for Big Profit

In my dissertation I found that local and state governments boosted their payrolls by commodifying natural amenities through tourism. The private sector also derive substantial profits from the natural amenities of a community, in addition to land that is given value by planning entitlements and public infrastructure. However, the one group left out of profit sharing from these common resources is hospitality workers. Private and public profiteers justify cutting workers out of any profit-sharing by claiming without evidence the jobs in the industry are low-skilled or just temporary positions for people without work experience. My current project is to measure inequities in Montana’s natural resource-based economy and suggest practical measures to ensure the benefits of the commons are shared by everyone – and particularly the workers that unlock this value.