By Robert A. Vella
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is at the forefront of America’s drive towards corporatism. On the Saturday after Christmas, he and his comrade-in-arms from New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo – vetoed bills that would have reformed the scandal-plagued Port Authority. Now, he is leading the charge to privatize the municipal water systems in his state.
As fresh water supplies are increasingly being stressed by escalating climate change and industrial exploitation, those who own it can wield great socioeconomic power. When the public loses that ownership, they essentially lose everything including the very right to live.
Al Jazeera America is reporting:
A bill that would allow New Jersey municipalities to sell their public water utilities to private, for-profit corporations without putting the measure to voters is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.Until now, any municipality in New Jersey that sought to sell off its water system to a private bidder had to hold a public vote. But a bill passed with bipartisan support by the state’s Senate last week would allow municipalities with aging and deteriorating water systems to put their systems up for sale without holding a referendum.
NJ voters have approved the sale of water systems to private developers in about 45% of the state–making New Jersey one of the more receptive states in the union to privatization. It seems a bit strange that there would be a need to cut the citizens out of the decision making process.
A report from Corporate Accountability International found that privatization of water supplies was often followed by rate increases. In Bayonne, New Jersey, a 2012 contract with United Water led to an 8.5 percent rate increase in the first year, according to the nonprofit. And a 2010 report from Food and Water Watch found that customers in New Jersey municipalities with private water systems paid on average 64 percent more than others in the state.