Newsweek Gets Wet

The cover image on the October 18 Newsweek is very splashy body of water and the words: LIQUID ASSET: Big Business and the Race to Control the World’s Water. I am a little afraid that by the time Newsweek considers something like this front page news, the takeover of water has already taken place. In some sense that’s true, the author notes: trends toward privatization are up and people in the industry see it is inevitable. Newsweek appears to agree with the UN that water  is a human right, concedes that it’s running out, and calls on business and governments  to work together to solve the multiple, interlocking problems of infrastructure, equity, and a clean environment.

The article skirts the ownership issue, which would have a huge impact on the kinds of businesses that would be involved in water issues. If, for example, water belongs to “us all” or “the government” then businesses have opportunities to create efficient systems for delivering water, safely, to all people. If, on the other hand, water can be owned, and purchased and packaged in the name of making a profit, then we are in very deep shit indeed.

It does not seem rational to entrust a necessity of life to a legal fiction dedicated to making a profit above all else.





3 responses to “Newsweek Gets Wet

  1. it isn’t rational to give basic utilities like water, electricity, oil and gas to profit-making entities unless there is competent regulation. at one time we were on that trajectory. we left that recently under reagan, but not for the first time have we allowed greed to destroy something. the killing of the goose that laid the golden egg is ancient-and yet we don’t seem to make the transition from the allegory to the cave.

  2. Elizabeth Goldman

    The problem with privatization of public goods is seen with the history of “enclosures” of once-public commons. The economist Elinor Ostriker won a Nobel Prize in Economics last year for showing that people are capable of managing a commons without taking undue advantage of one another (aka the “tragedy of the commons.” I think we need a new economic model that is based on stewarding the various commons we inherited rather than one based on generating profit for distant shareholders.

  3. I think that economic system exists. It is called Regulated Capitalism. Unfortunately in the US that means Socialism. As if.

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