Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nationalization and the Water Supply

'Northern Ireland water shortage 'could become major health emergency'
Northern Ireland's escalating drinking water crisis is in danger of developing into a major health emergency, doctors have warned.' Telegraph headline.

Northern Ireland Water (NIW), the company at the centre of the crisis, said it was unable to say when supplies would be fully restored. At times of crisis like this one is made aware that selling off national essential services to private companies whose main concern is the stockholder's profit is not a good idea.

In the past there has been a fashion to sell off usually for a song a countries silver. The Russians did it after the fall of the Soviet Union and were taken for a ride by the greedy oligarchs one of whom has found himself in prison. New Zealand did it. The government sold off everything, airlines, railways, farm land and Uk is dong it at the moment with the UK Post.

It sounds good in theory but not practice as companies even large ones are not big enough or capable of keeping the infrastructure going and indeed if not making money can 'close up'. Well you can't 'close up' when you are supplying a population with water or electricity or gas as Northern Ireland is now finding out.

Here in New Zealand the government was forced to buy back  Air New Zealand as it became obvious that New Zealand which is an isolated country stuck in oceans of water, had to have its own communication system that did not rely on a foreign country just 'pulling' out because it wasn't profitable.
NZ can't rely on Richard Branson or Australia when the chips are down.Whatever happens New Zealand must have its own airline and all New Zealanders have to pay for it, all 4 Million of us. Bit like Manchester having its own Airline and Army and Navy and Air Force. The railways sold for $1 to very greedy bankers now living is Switzerland were bought back for millions.

New Zealand is now halting the sale of its farm land to foreigners, a bit late true but sovereign countries can always nationalize as a last resort if they are forced to do so.

Keeping infrastructure up to standard is expensive and ongoing and necessary as I see daily. By accident I bought into a socially upwardly mobile area. It has gone from undesirable to dead rich chic and in the thirty year process the builders have never stopped. Every day someone is upgrading to keep the place in order. 'My dear' the noise dust and inconvenience! It is never ending and it has to be done.

Water supplies, electricity and gas supplies, public transport/communications and the medical establishment are public necessities and should be in public ownership. They are too important to leave to money grabbing entrepreneurs who leave things to rot.

No doubt Northern Ireland will now be aware that privatization of essential services doesn't work.

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