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Privatization: Who Owns the Rain? The Fight to Control Water

March 5, 2011


If you are a regular reader here at Path to Well Being you will know I am a proponent of localization, self-reliance, green-alternative energy, and rainwater recapture. I am clearing two bushes on the north side of my house to locate two rain barrels. I will use the rainwater to supplement my usage in the summertime for my gardens. Like solar from the Sun, rainwater from the sky is free — at least for now. But, it is not in other parts of the world. I also have been writing lately about privatization, the transfer of ownership to business or corporations. Under the category, Word History, you will find a more complete description of privatization.

Here is an example of what can happen when corporations overreach and privatize mother nature herself. How serious is the problem of privatization? Monsanto has already patented many natural seeds for growing. Common Dreams reported in January 2004:

BROOKLIN, Canada – Agribusiness giant Monsanto has sued more than 100 U.S. farmers, and its “seed police” have investigated thousands of others, for what the company terms illegal use of its patented genetically engineered seeds, and activists charge is “corporate extortion”. Monsanto has a budget of 10 million dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers, the report said. Entire article, click here.

How does privatization take root?
What is happening in Wisconsin is a prime example of how exorbitant wealth can influence politics, policy, environmental regulations and laws which affect the way we live, how we live, AND what access we have to life sustaining elements – energy, food, mineral resources, and even water, BUT more importantly, its about WHO controls the way we live: our collective publicly run government or private interests and monopolies. Buried within Wisconsin’s SB11 is a provision which ” would allow the State to exempt some state wetlands from environmental oversight. It would be too much to say that the fact that a prominent Republican owns part of the wetlands that will be exempted.” Read all the provisions in SB11, click here.

Also in SB11 is this:
(1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

This provision opens the door to companies like Koch Industries who supported Governor Walker in his election bid to purchase Wisconsin PUBLIC ASSETS on the cheap.

So, this is how it works. Influence peddling $$$ from wealthy interests insinuate their desires upon elected officials — public servants — to include provisions in bills that when passed by those elected officials (who are supported by special interests) nudge along their agendas – and that in this case, favors privatization. THIS is why lobbying should be outlawed.

What’s Next? Water, the Most Valuable Resource and Commodity on Earth

Three intertwined stories should alert us to the dangers of privatization of water.

From FRONTLINE: Bolivia – Leasing the Rain

Privatization sparks a deadly protest in the town of Cochabamba when the Bolivian government sells off its water system to a private, multi-national consortium Aguas del Tunari. New Yorker writer William Finnegan travels to Cochabamba to learn why people took to the streets and what happens next.

The spark was privatization. A private consortium, dominated by the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco, had taken over Cochabamba’s water system and raised water rates. Protestors blamed Bechtel for trying to “lease the rain.”

Read entire article, click here

Leasing the Rain by William Finnegan

The world is running out of fresh water, and the fight to control it has begun.

In this “Letter from Bolivia” New Yorker correspondent William Finnegan describes the intersection of global freshwater shortages and efforts to privatize utilities in third world countries. After hearing news of the Cochabamba water revolts, Finnegan traveled to Bolivia “to find out how the global water business looks from ground.”

Who Is Bechtel?
I first heard of Bechtel in the 70s and then more in the 80s when Reagan was President.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, 2004, Excerpts:

George Schultz was secretary of the treasury and chairman of the Council on Economic Policy under Nixon, served as Bechtel president, and then became secretary of state under Reagan. Caspar Weinberger was a Bechtel vice president and general council, and later the secretary of defense under Reagan. Richard Cheney served as secretary of defense under George H. W. Bush, as Halliburton president, and as U.S. vice president to George W. Bush. George H. W. Bush, began as founder of Zapata Petroleum Corp., served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under presidents Nixon, Ford, and was Ford’s CIA director.

Reagan was most definitely a global empire builder, a servant of the corporatocracy. He catered to men who shuttled back and forth from corporate CEO offices to bank boards and into the halls of government. He served the men who appeared to serve him but who in fact ran the government – men like Vice President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State George Schultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Richard Cheney, Richard Helms, and Robert McNamara, He advocated what those men wanted: an America that controlled the world and all its resources, a world that answered to the commands of America, a U.S. military that would enforce the rules as they were written by America, and an international trade and banking system that supported America as CEO of the global empire.

The Bechtel Group, inc. is a prime example of the cozy relationship between private companies and the U.S. government. Bechtel was the United States’ most influential engineering and construction company. Its president and senior officers included George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, who despised Torrijos because he brazenly courted a Japanese plan to replace Panama’s existing canal with a new, more efficient one. Such a move not only would transfer the ownership form the United States to Panama but would also exclude Bechtel from participation in the most exciting and potentially lucrative engineering project of the century.

Bechtel – loaded with Nixon, Ford, and Bush cronies, pulls the strings of the Republican Party.

Source: The Form of Money

Film: The Corporation

This topic is explored in the 2003 documentary film The Corporation, in the 2010 Spanish film Even the rain by Icíar Bollaín and on Bechtel’s website. In January 2006, Bechtel and the other international partners settled the lawsuit against the Bolivian government for a reported two bolivianos, after intense protests that followed a ruling on jurisdiction favorable to Bechtel by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Take a breath and watch this trailer and you will get a hint at the dangers of corporatism, privatization, and monopolies. Visit the filmmakers website, click here

This is a segment that covers the news coverup of this documentary AND further reporting on the Bolivian Privatization of Water by Bechtel.

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