Thursday, May 14, 2015

Want to pay more for water? PRIVATIZE!

Bigwigs involved in the water industry -- yes, it's now an industry -- met in South Carolina recently, where they hobnobbed with public officials. Their big goal was to privatize water in this country.
While less than a quarter of Americans get their water from privately managed systems today, businesses specializing in water, wastewater and sewage system maintenance are using the momentum of the crisis to acquire parts or all of municipalities' water systems, and business-friendly politicians are greasing the grab. Last year was one of the busiest yet for the private sector: Highlights include legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey making it easier for municipalities to hand off water systems to the private sector (in the latter case, without a public referendum), and in San Antonio, the seventh most populous city in the country, city leaders inked a deal to allow Abengoa Water USA3 and Bluewater Systems to operate the second-largest water main system in the city.
Unfortunately, privatized water will cost more.
John Hoy, president of Utilities Inc. of Florida, was more blunt.

What it comes down to is, how do we educate, and prep customers for understanding what the value of water is?" Hoy said. "There is the belief that water should be cheap. We are fighting the perception that anything over $30 a month is a lot. [Water] continues to be the lowest utility bill. We have to go up for that. We have to do more to change belief that we can keep water rates down for all the needs coming."
Haven't the libertarians told us a zillion times that privatization is always cheaper? During one of the 2012 debates, Mitt Romney insisted that government is always less efficient.

Then why should we pay more for privatized water?

I'm reminded of the health care debate, when we were told that offering a government funded public option would have constituted unfair competition. Really? If Libertarian theology is correct, then competition between private and public options would be perfectly fair, and the private health plan would win every time. Why were the libertarians afraid to put their belief system to the test?

One of these days, I wish a Libertarian would just fess up and tell the truth:

"Look, you know all that stuff we said about privatization making everything cheaper? It was all bullshit. Privatization means profit, and profit is a big chunk of the price you pay. Take out the profit and the price goes lower. The truth is, we just want your fucking money."

Added note: Yes, I am aware the competition is supposed to result in lower prices. Competition isn't a factor when it comes to utilities. To an increasing extent, competition isn't a factor period, due to the growth of monopolies in so many areas of life.
Check out the Water Wars in Bolivia [circa 2000] to see where this leads. Large corporations have been buying up water resources for over a decade. Climate Change [which the GOP insists is a delusion] is a marketing dream--drought, agricultural collapse, less clean drinking water = mega profits for the "Free' vampire market that we all know and love. Check out the water shortages in the ME and think about the endless conflicts, how water shortages have exacerbated the struggles.

Water is the new oil. Oh happy days!

Laissez faire free market economies have never produced the results their proponents claim. Never.
The best days of the US economy featured high taxation rates, strong unions, and plenty of government intervention. To ridiculous schemes to privatize basic utilities I say: remember Enron.
While there may be competition for the contract - once awarded it immediately becomes a monopoly. That usually needs government 'help' ($$$)to continue to make huge profits. I live where the ferry system was privatized in a public / private situation, and guess what? Lower wages for employees (whose earned money was then spent here), and you guessed it, large increases in fares and LESS service. Oh, and yes, those regular government handouts to keep the profits rolling in...It's a great way to milk the greatest tap of wealth there is left - the taxpayer.
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