21 August, 2002

Water, Water Everywhere...

...and soon the corporations will decide whether you get to drink.

Faced with the suddenly well-documented freshwater crisis, governments and international institutions are advocating a Washington Consensus solution: the privatization and commodification of water. Price water, they say in chorus; put it up for sale and let the market determine its future. For them, the debate is closed. Water, say the World Bank and the United Nations, is a "human need," not a "human right." These are not semantics; the difference in interpretation is crucial. A human need can be supplied many ways, especially for those with money. No one can sell a human right.

Hell, why not? I mean, there are already millions of people out there who can not afford food, clothing or shelter. Why not add potable water to that list? This is like some bizarre form of financial darwinism. The poor obviously aren't "fit" enough, so they must be removed from the gene pool.

I don't know. I suppose privatization of freshwater makes a certain amount of sense. On Bizarro world, at least. Water is the basic necessity of human life. To give a handful of companies control over this is basically surrendering ourselves over to them. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to living under the yoke of HyperMegaGlobalNetworks, Inc.

Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
     Sixteen Tons, by Tennessee Ernie Ford

As far as I'm concerned, privatization is pretty much the cue for world-wide revolution. Hopefully, the constant, nagging thirst in the back of the throats of a couple of billion people will incite a little mayhem in this world. And it won't be too hard to figure out who will be the first against the wall when it happens.

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