Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Polly's been reading Gavin Ayling...

... but not, unfortunately, the replies pulling him apart, it seems. I don't, alas, have the time to rip into the silly woman apart with my usual vitriolic aplomb, but I'll just highlight this paragraph.
However, one privatisation will always stand out as an unequivocal scandal: the privatisation of water. It is used all over the world as a classic example of what not to do. Making millions out of an element that falls freely from the skies - profiteering from rivers, rain and clouds - affronted most citizens.

I covered this load of old horseshit when I wrote the reply to Gavin who had, at least, the wit to see that he'd got it wrong; so, just to recap:
[W]ater isn't free. The water that falls from the sky is, yes. But the water that we drink isn't. If water is "free", who exactly pays for:
  1. the water treatment plants,

  2. the treating of the water to make it fit for human consumption and irradicate all of those horrible microbes, like typhoid, that used to kill so many people in this country,

  3. the pumping of the water to our homes and the energy that costs,

  4. the maintenance of the infrastructure, i.e. the pipes, etc. that the water flows through,

  5. the pipes that carry the sewage out of our homes

  6. the processing of the sewage that comes out of our homes (that we don't want dumped raw in our rivers because of such incidences as The Great Stink).

We will pay: either directly, or through out taxes.

I then wrote that even Polly had realised that there was no such thing as a free lunch; obviously I was being too optimistic. Either that, or she has a severe memory problem; she certainly does have a problem with economics.
It gifted shareholders an absolute monopoly over a necessity no one could do without. There was no chance to choose from another supplier (unless perhaps bathing in Perrier). The price of water doubled, great profits were made and the public got nothing.

As I explained before, the price of water had been kept artificially low.
Anyway, yes, the water companies were privatised and, much like BT and the energy companies, the quality became a lot better. Prices rose, yes, but for two reasons:
  1. The price had been too low anyway. This wasn't "cheap" water: we all paid, for the government to subsidise the water companies, out of other taxes. That is either more money stolen from those who earn it or less money into your favourite schools, hospitals, etc.

  2. The public water companies had, as already mentioned, invested almost nothing into the infrastructure. This was, in fact, one of the main motivations for selling them off; the government could not afford the structural improvements, whereas private companies could raise money from the markets to do so.

So, once again, either Polly is pig-shit ignorant, or she is deliberately lying to suit her own agenda. Neither option impresses, frankly.

Why not read this more comprehensive dissection—although that seems too tame a word—from Polly's favourite pendant.
Great. So, Polly has done it again. Her three major contentions (and this is without either her or me mentioning the EU drinking water directives which is where all the money has actually been spent: the latest imposes a constraint that tap water must be purer than bottled mineral water.) are that:
  1. The increase in the use of the Thames Barrier is all to do with climate change. No, only partially so.

  2. That privatisation is less efficient than not. Not so, distinctly not so.

  3. That climate change will make the droughts permanent. Not so, it’ll actually make them less likely.

How excellent, eh? Polly, a small suggestion. Hire yourself a pedant will you?

Dear god, why is this awful old harridan allowed to continue to plague us with her ill-informed opinions? I might write a (non-anonymous) letter to The Guardian...

UPDATE: As usual, Factchecking Pollyanna is on the button...

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