11 Jul 2012

Why should George Soros invest in water?

KG sent the following vignette:*
So, I am walking down the street and I have the opportunity to have a conversation with one of America's most significant investor/philosopher/philanthropists and businessman, George Soros...

I wonder "What does he think about water wars, do they exist now, will they occur in the future, are they violent, what does a water war look like?" I think now "He has said something like that "we should not be the victims of the Philosopher King that social change is within the people's grasp." He lived through the transition from communism to capitalism and has rolled quickly into socialism...

He is a figure whom leftist-liberals would smile upon as man benevolent to humanity and the goodness of government. He may not like the idea that water should be commodified/privatized, he might say that it is "inhumane and will result in discrimination against the poor." He might say that "water is a basic human right, and that it should be publicly owned privatized institutionally distributed."

Now, I have to convince this man why he should invest in water...

What would you say to George Soros about investing in water?

PS: I am concerned that our symbolic and religious view of water may not be healthy (read, for example, "Water, theology, and the New Mexico Water code" [PDF] by Martha Franks). Why don't we value water within the institutions and systems in which it exists? Has religion done it for us, or historical conditioning of self-entitlement to the earth and its goods i.e. the rhetorical public interest? Do you think people fear their own ability to value something so essential to life, it's kind of a big deal, or is it just snickers vs kit-kat?
In response, I wrote:
I am not sure how to respond.

What would I say to him? Don't.

Soros makes his money by trading in markets and taking advantage of fundamental movements (even if they are the result of individual traders' hysteria).

There's no "water market" -- there are MANY water "cachements" and they are 90%+ dominated by political forces that can defy market forces for as long as they -- politicians -- want.

Remember that Soros made 1 Billion GBP in a big trade against the Bank of England -- but ONLY because politicians couldn't hold back market forces. The Bank would have preferred to shut Soros down, but didn't have the power. That power is persistent in the water sector -- so it's a sucker's bet (or a political manipulation...)

Now -- your ps is interesting. Changing values for commodity water are not the same problem as the spiritual quest for a values for vague quantities of water -- or water in the abstract. People may put infinite values on it, not needing to worry about a trade off in terms of "relative to what?"

Did you read my book? This is how I divide it, into parts I (commodity) and II (community).
What do you think?