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Booting Corporate Power, Communities Are Taking Back Control of Their Water


Booting Corporate Power, Communities Are Taking Back Control of Their Water

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

In communities across the world, people are taking back their water.

Cases of remunicipalization—getting what were privatized water and sanitation services back under public control—is the focus of a new book by the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute (TNI), and offers welcome respite from tales of the ever-encroaching reach of corporate power.

The trend of remunicipalization is accelerating, the new research says, and it's "a story crying to be told."


the public sector is better equipped to meet broader social and environmental goals, and in a better position to address fundamental issues such as affordability and equity, as well as climate change adaptation, water conservation and the protection of ecosystems, as opposed to private companies’ focus on financial aspects

The Romans figured this principle out before the Christian era. The Chinese had public water projects even earlier. Why are we being forced to relearn what has been understood for millennia?

Reagan began destroying our notions of public good with his fables of undeserving freeloaders, inefficient government, and corporate beneficence. No president since has even tried to dispute this mythology and we won’t hear criticisms of from Hillary or whatever clown the republicans decide to run.

These corrupt ideals have become as ingrained in American culture as racism and religious bigotry.



Well said! :smile:


Public Servants are the barrier between legislators and money. Civil Service was our National corporate memory. Public service was the refuge of those who worked for the pride and professionalism, not the big bucks. They were also the employer of last resort, whose benefits were immune from congressional meddling and which placed a floor under wage deflation.

So they had to die.


And now, some select entries from The Progressive’s Dictionary.

Privatization: n.

  1. A process whereby a government entity grants monopoly privilege to a non-government organization, often in exchange for unspecified favors. (See crony capitalism.)
  2. A process by which a government authority may claim to have made so-called “free market” reforms, appeasing select voters and corporate interests simultaneously.

Free Market: n.

  1. A market heavily constrained by regulation and manipulated by corruption to benefit the interests of the few at the expense of the many.
  2. The root of all evil.

Deregulation: n.
The removal of a subset of specific regulations from a complex web of interlocking and often contradictory regulations, with predictably disastrous results.


We humans are materially (and so-too, arguably, ‘spiritually’) constituted more of water ---- a compound of the cosmic elements: hydrogen + oxygen ---- than of any other compound of constituent cosmic elements.
Whatever “water” actually is, in any unfathomably- higher Cosmic sense, it IS, at least, the materially provable basis of cosmic processes that sponsor most creatures, such as we humans, on planet Earth.

Without natural-system- planetary- maintenance of H20’s integrity in the past, humans and most other Earth’s fauna/ flora life forms could not have even arisen-as-such. Nor, just-so, now, can these same lifeforms , including US, survive into any realistic Earth future without this liquid substance’s free-flow and natural replenishment processes being now protected in reasonably integral form, via the intervention of conscious human intention and protective action.

Even the Big Daddy of modern capitalism, Adam Smith, writing 230 yrs. ago, recognized the non-negotiable need for affordable distribution (and state protection of) of public water, as so designated it as a prime example of what he called a Public Good, which the Capital-Profit Market is NOT to be trusted with ownership-of.
IMO, the most chilling measure of Today’s madly- mass-tolerated corruption of [even Smith’s clearly, socially-qualified] Free Market principles, is the increasingly-normalized, sociopathic presumption by present-day corporations that: Even Creation’s material source of human life itself – formerly at minimum – free, clean water for all no matter what – is now just one more manipulable, private-profit Market- speculation commodity, wherein: If you don’t have the money to pay us water profiteers, you’ll just have to go dry – even if you die.






Governments contracting with corporations to provide water is hardly a free-market solution. The bottled water that you find at the grocery store is closer to free-market, since at least you have a competition between brands, but even that isn’t truly free-market when you consider that governments generally claim ownership of the water and sell it to the bottler. This distinction is important because government involvement at any level changes the risks and incentives to corporations, often substantially.

You say that you don’t trust the market to provide water. Why do you trust it to provide food, clothing, housing, vehicles, and communication? Would you feel better if farms, grocery stores, and shipping companies were all state owned and operated?

You aren’t alone in feeling that government is a panacea to eliminate risk, but the fact is that risk is inherent in everything anyone does. Government action can shift around risks and rewards, but it can’t guarantee the elimination of risk. Worse, the very mechanism of government adds all kinds of additional risks in the form of moral hazard, regulatory hurdles to competition, and corruption. In short, what Adam Smith and you would prefer does not exist. You cannot legislate cheap, clean, abundant water into existence. The best we can hope to do as a species is to discover better ways of extracting quality water from the resources we have available. That means allowing entrepreneurs to take risks to discover what kind of technology and processes do that the best.

There is also a sense in which I completely agree with you. It is insane to believe that if you give a single entity full control over a resource that is absolutely essential to the survival of all life, that it will choose to manage that resource wisely and generously. Where we part ways is in your belief that the statement I just made does not apply to government. I agree that government delivers water at very low prices, but I do not necessarily think that this is a good thing. Prices on the market reflect the relative scarcity of a good against its demand. Low prices are a signal of great abundance. If that is the order of the day (and voters like cheap water), then you’re going to have shortages and poor management of the resource. This is why California is in such a mess in its current drought. Raising the price of water is the only rational solution to get people to conserve and save what little water remains while supplies are short, but doing so would cause a voter backlash and get the current party thrown out of office.


Water, and air (the air we breathe to stay alive) have no place in the “market”. They have no place in “for profit” situations. In less than 10 minutes a person dies without air, and in less than 5 days a person dies without water.

“State run” and “state owned” are phrases that can imply oppressive governments like those that exist in North Korea, and to some extent still exist in China.
Government officials, in our democracy, can be voted out by the public as long as corporate money does not control the legal system. “State run and owned” in a democracy is completely different, because the public has the option of throwing the bums out. Corporate moguls cannot be voted out by the public.