While I agree its pretty stupid to allow private companies to sink a well and then have them sell the water to suckers throughout the Midwest for a buck per half liter, Eartha Melzer‘s article on the Ice Mountain issue is a bit lacking on several counts.
First off, what is the big deal with this particular plant? Why do we have people blocking trucks as if what this one plant is doing is of some grave importance? Why has this become the progressive cause of the moment?
The volume of water Nestle will be pumping and carting off seems big when compared to the capacity of my bathtub, say, but is it really all that much compared to the bodies of water supposedly under threat? I think the dirty little secret of the Sweetwater Alliance is that the answer to this question is “no“ and that there will be no catastrophic environmental effects due to Nestle‘s wells. There is certainly nothing in Eartha Melzer‘s article to lead me to believe otherwise.
Secondly, while this whole story does bring up the rather galling point that it doesn‘t cost Nestle very much to extract that water, the problem here is with the state and with how property rights are conceived in our society (essentially, if its under your property, it‘s yours). Stopping Nestle‘s pumping plant will do nothing to change groundwater‘s status as potential commodity, but focusing attention on Nestle does avoid the rather sticky issues that arise if we were to concentrate on the far more important general issue. Specifically, the broader issue of residential, industrial and agricultural water rights, the large amount of waste in all three sectors, and how much is paid for these rights.
If we start to look here, we start to see that Nestle is not our water problem. We are. Nestle, a foreign multi-national, is just an easy scapegoat up here in cosmopolitan northern Michigan.
A lot of the Sweetwater propaganda I‘ve seen makes pretty blatant appeals to Michigan parochialism (surely we can‘t have foreigners coming in here and profiting from our water! Why don‘t they just go back where they came from!). I‘m sure that these sorts of arguments are making considerable inroads with the Michigan Militia types to whom this sort of nativism usually appeals. The closer you look at it, the less “progressive“ this cause seems to be.
According to Sweetwater, Nestle is big, and therefore it is evil. We must stop Nestle from extracting groundwater at all costs, even if our Michigan farmers (who also extract groundwater for practically nothing) are wasting many times as much by using inefficient irrigation methods which result in our groundwater freely evaporating and falling as rain on other states or, perhaps, worse yet, Canada! Or how about attacking the completely idiotic wastage of water on grass lawns in this area of Michigan, so ill-suited to them?
I guess we wouldn‘t want to strike too close to home with our water wastage arguments when we can just as well attack some conniving frogs with designs on our Michigan sweetwater (whose taste, I hear tell, is compared by some to cherry wine).
The fact of the matter is, though, that Nestle‘s use of this water isn‘t really so wasteful as Sweetwater would like to have it. Nearly all of this water will be drunk, and even though I think it‘s pretty stupid for people to buy bottled water, I generally think its a good thing for even stupid people to be drinking it.
There are far worse things that could be happening to this water.
One better thing that might happen to our Michigan water would be for it to be given away to those many in the world who don‘t have adequate water supplies. While this would be completely in keeping with the Sweetwater Alliance‘s slogan, “Water is a Right, not a Commodity,“ I wonder how many in the alliance would be up for that progressive cause?
Oran P. Kelley TC
Don‘t exploit 9/11
USA Today accounts contradict the Bush claim that he inherited a recession. Clinton and Gore created the longest expansion of the U.S. economy and an unprecedented four back-to-back budget surpluses. These Bush destroyed, even before September 11, with tax cuts for the rich at the expense of all others.
Claiming he wants to create jobs, a reduced national debt and balanced budget, Bush has cut funds for job training, and seeks tax cuts for the top 2%.
Bush also plans to attack Iraq, promising to install peacekeepers later, but he has cut peacekeeping forces, never bringing any to Afghanistan. He also has promised a Marshall Plan to rebuild Afghanistan, as took place in Europe and Japan after World War II, which would benefit Americans and Afghans. The are empty promises.
Instead, using intelligence from Afghan warlords, this administration sends unmanned drones that shell and kill innocent Afghans repeatedly, per the New York Times, [which profits the Big Oil, Big Defense, Big Chemical executives and their sponsorees].
Incidentally, while there are reduced or no funds in the Bush budget for job training, employment, education expenses, crime prevention, medical research or health benefits, this is the second time in a year that Bush took a month from office to campaign for fellow Republicans at taxpayer expense.
Is it additionally possible that the phrase United we stand may be inaccurate? Not everyone unites with this pro-war, against effective peace measures administration which tilts economic policies to the rich, destroys the job market, police protection, education benefits, meaningful health measures, the environment, and corporate accountability.
Please do not use September 11 to promote this un-American disservice to taxpayers. Cease bloating the military budget, killing innocent civilians, increasing secrecy and destroying rights, the economy and vital services. Americans deserve benefits, not the shredding of their documents, fear mongering, witch hunts, raiding revenues, peace prevention, war promotion, or exclusive remembrance of American innocent victims.
Please use September 11 as an honored memorial to promote peace, remembering the Americans who died and the other world citizen innocents still dying.
Hilda Coyne via email