Why I oppose paying for water

Wednesday 12 April 2017 11:07

Why do I oppose paying for drinking water?

1. Firstly I oppose the idea that if we use something we should pay for it. This is fine in a transactional relationship such as when someone buys coffee and a cake, or a car. But such a relationship between the state and the person is not appropriate. Why would a person want a state to exist? To provide her and her fellow inhabitants with certain necessary services. If people did not need states for certain services they would merely contract with private entities for those services. But instead, they choose to have a state and attach themselves to it for complex reasons not reducible to cash or credit transactions. It is therefore the function of the state to provide those services which include, education, health care, sanitation, water, public housing, public transport and justice.

2. All the heritage Irish political parties have a history of privatisation. This includes the now tiny Irish Labour Party. They also favour corporate interests over social interests. Like most people in this country I am convinced that Irish Water was set up specifically to be privatised. I believe drinking water (and water for washing) whould be in public ownership.

3. None of the the three heritage parties can be trusted. They have a history of making judgements based on the expediency of the moment, of favouring corporate or donor interest, of corruption on both petty and grand scales, of misleading their electorate and gross mismanagement of the  public realm even when they are in good faith.

4. 90% of water consumption in Ireland comes from industry and farming, not from households. The saving that the government believes it will make by imposing water metering amounts to less than 0.5% of total water consumption in the state. The costs of metering and other initiatives are only comprehensible in terms of rendering private water consumption amenable to profit by a corporation. And in turn, this is only understandable as an ideological position. The government is expressing a neoliberal preference for private ownership of public goods. Or a disaste for taking care of its citizens.

5. I am certain that if any charging structure whatever is put in place, the heritage political parties will see it as precedent. As has been the case before, the charging structure will be gradually modified to make everyone pay and once that has been achieved, privatisation will happen next. If politicans are interested in making people with pools pay more then the simple answer is to tax pools. You don’t need a meter to know if someone has a pool in their garden.

6. I have no objection to meters as part of a drive to eliminate wastage, but I see no reason why every house should be metered. For people to accept any meters at all it is necessary to put something like a constitutional protection to water in place. Why? Because nobody really trusts the heritage political parties.