9 Jan 2013

Who to blame?

Guillermo Donoso posted this image on his Tumblr account, carrying forward the caption "this is a ridiculously powerful picture."

It is also a misleading picture (GD agrees), since the most common reason that the poor lack access to water is NOT a businessman who "owns" the water, but a bureaucrat or politician who has -- though negligence or corruption -- failed to allow water to flow to those most in need, and most willing to pay. (I covered this topic in my paper on water and human rights, which I am now revising.)

Bottom Line: Businessmen do NOT benefit from dead customers but profits, and it's more profitable to provide good water service to people. It's even BETTER when there's competition to provide those services, but that's not always easy.*

* We ran low on fuel while riding in the middle of nowhere in the Philippines. We we arrived at a "gas station," the price of gas was only 3-4 percent higher than the city prices. Why? Because that "station" was a guy who sold gas by the liter in refilled Coke bottles. He couldn't charge more because his neighbor could "start a gas station" in a day. This unregulated outcome was good for consumers and sellers.