Water Belongs to the People
Water, that precious life giving force. Without it, life on earth would be impossible. Two-thirds of the planet is covered by it. Our bodies are mostly made up of it. Beyond three days without water we humans die.
In spite of these facts, corporations are privatizing water and denying it to whoever can’t pay for it. In the year 2000, the Bechtel Corporation did just that in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They even claimed ownership of rainwater and the right to charge people for it. This caused an uprising that ended in Bechtel being run out of town and losing their water ownership rights.
Earlier this year, 27,000 of the poorest households in Detroit had their water services cut off. Forty percent of the workers in Detroit live in utter poverty. The United Nations condemned it as a violation of human rights and international law as well as a public health crisis. A bankruptcy judge, however, ruled that the people of Detroit have no such enforceable right to water.
Detroit, as well as dozens of other cities around the country, is preparing to privatize its water by first doubling and tripling its citizen’s water bills. Cold blooded? You bet it is. Profits hold no sentimental feelings about life. Private ownership of water in the hands of the few is contrary to social well being. Do we really want corporations to own and control our water?
Battle lines are drawn all over the country in what people are calling “water wars.” Fracking, polluting, drought, for-sale signs on lakes, rivers, aquifers, and public water filtration systems—the forms are many, but the content is ‘class war’ with privatized water at once both the prize and the weapon used.
The editorial board of the Washington Post reminds us that in any war, the first casualty is the truth. “Dead beats and their advocates are marching as if to war to make Detroit safe for freeloaders,” they declared. Omitted is the fact that the corporations of Detroit collectively owe more than $30 million in unpaid water bills. No one is cutting off their water.
Contrast this with children, the elderly, people in wheel chairs, the bedridden, and the ill all going without water in mass. On one side is the cruelty of growing human suffering. It is matched on the other side with growing private ownership of everything, including the means of life.
During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine inspired revolutionaries to action when he asked the question, “Who needs a king?” The outright theft from the people of all things public by a few usurpers requires us to revisit that moment in history and ask ourselves, “Who needs corporate rule?”