Friday, July 5, 2013
Giving Our Basic Human Needs to Profit-Seeking Corporations
(WPA workers installing water mains in Wicomico County, Maryland, in May of 1940. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)
There is currently a steady pressure to privatize our water supplies; to give and trust our basic human need of water to profit-seeking corporations (see, e.g., here). But, considering the private sector's record in other areas of public importance, such as health insurance, air quality, and prisons, should we trust the CEOs of Corporate America with our water supply?
During the New Deal, the federal, state, and local governments of America connected the dots of unemployment and infrastructure needs, employing the jobless to install water mains and water connections all across the country. Much of that water-delivery infrastructure still exists today (as do earlier-built water systems).
Privatization is not the panacea that many free-market purists claim it to be. In fact, even some Republican politicians know this, and have resisted the Obama administration's hints at privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority.
When it comes to water, food, health care, and other basic needs, we should not trust the "Captains of Industry," who are primarily concerned with profit, to give us the best outcome. We should create the best outcome ourselves. History is replete with instances of corporations reducing quality to increase profit. Do we want to risk that possibility with our water?