September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:When will we stop worshipping at the feet of capital?
Author:Oriya Maqbool Khan
Publication:The Watan America
Body:In Bolivia, people are drinking water unfit for livestock. Privatization of Bolivian public utilities began in 1990, and by 1999, drinking water became too expensive for many people.
There are more examples of alarming privatization of public utilities in the 1990s in both rich and poor countries. After the deregulation of power in California in 1996, an electric bill of $50 rose to $120. In Britain, sewage and water services bills increased 450 percent after privatization. In Turkey, the state fishing corporation used to employ 250,000; it fired 150,000 people after privatization.
Perhaps the contest between capitalism and the poor persons daily bread is an ancient one. However, humanity has come to expect that the state will provide basic services. The idea of the welfare state has appeared in theory and practice all over the world, say in post-war Europe and America, as well as an Islamic ideal that occasionally existed in Muslim regimes. These days, though, governments around the world are pulling out of providing public services. Somehow, arguments for privatizing public utilities or downsizing are seen as arguments that favor human progress!
I asked a friend in a senior position at an international lending institution about these issues and he said that states burden themselves with providing services, and that the subsequent market inefficiencies will not foster progress. I asked him whether he cared that masses of people cannot afford higher utility prices, or what they are to do without jobs. But he again talked of inefficiencies, as if his eyes and ears were uncomprehending.
What will become of a world where experts, economists and social scientists cannot think outside terms set by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund?