The grim and heartbreaking situation of water contamination in Flint, Michigan, and the reckless greed that contributed to it has made safe drinking water a big hot button issue. Forget oil, water wars are next as the billionaires buy corrupt politicians left and right to ensure control of the soon to be a scarce resource. What could possibly go wrong there?
The Professional YouTube Screamer has absolutely no chance of becoming president and getting stuck in the presidential bath tub, as he’s as hated in the rest of the country as he is in New Jersey. But that certainly hasn’t stopped Christie from continuing to screw New Jersey, which includes his decision to sign privatization of water legislation into law–a big fat giveaway to his political sugar daddies. The Water Infrastructure Protection Act, which purportedly aims to address infrastructure as old as the late 1800s for f*ck’s sake, allows for fast-tracking of sales of municipal water systems to private entities.
It should be noted that privately operated water systems already provide water to roughly half of New Jersey’s population. But what many don’t seem to understand about WIPA, is local governments interested in auctioning off their water utilities are no longer required by law to complete deals through a public referendum. And that’s a good thing since major corporations NEVER care about soaring profits and the bottom line at the expense of actual people.
It’s a great deal for water companies. It’s a terrible deal for citizens,” says state Senator Bob Smith, a Democrat from Middlesex, who opposed the bill. “Let’s call it what it is: greed.
So why was this a gift-wrapped present to Christie’s cronies and how will it impact rates for Jersey residents and their health.
Christie, a man who has proven to be like Putin, but thankfully keeps his shirt on, has devoted the few times he’s actually in New Jersey to cutting shady quid pro quo deals with his cronies, nepotism, and ensuring his power lust for the white house comes before the interests of the people who elected him.
Via The Nation:
The private water industry was instrumental in passing WIPA. In 2010, Christie formed a privatization task force to determine “areas where government services and functions can be provided by the private sector.” Two of the group’s five members have ties to private water companies, with one serving as a former chief lobbyist for New Jersey American Water. And the chair of the task force, Dick Zimmer, was a former Republican congressman whose tenure in the 1990s included an attempt to privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority. Between the time of the bill’s passage in the State Senate and its signing, American Water, the country’s largest publicly traded water and sewer company,contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie then chaired.
But Christie cronyism, notwithstanding privatization, actually does very little at improving infrastructure, and mostly passes the cost of the purchase on to the public through continual rate hikes (which WIPA explicitly allows). Wait, Christie doing something that will make his residents shell out even more money while he benefits from a sweetheart deal? The hell I say!
Privatization is one of the single biggest threats to clean water and public health, said Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club. Privatization leads to higher rates for services and worsens water quality. Studies have shown that when public services are privatized, corporate profits replace meeting the needs of consumers and the environment, he said.
While it’s not anywhere close to the dire situation in Flint, children in Toms River, NJ experienced elevated levels of childhood cancer, which has linked contaminated drinking water supplied by United Water to numerous cases of leukemia in girls.
In short, when the public sector fails it is worth exploring private sector alternatives. But, as history has repeatedly shown, corporations care only about maximizing profits, and politicians are only interested in ensuring some of those go to their own election campaigns and pockets. Trusting the private sector to do the right thing is like trusting kids to grade their own papers fairly.