The privatization of water has never been an issue that I have thought about before, but FLOW really exposed me to all the evils of large companies like Nestle and Suez. I usually watch documentaries on food/health, the importance of organic farming, the effects of plastic, working in third world countries, etc., but FLOW actually shares many similarities with all of these movies, mostly that big businesses abuse their money for power, poorer people for labor, and natural resources for a profit. What a shame … are we really that driven by fortune and dominance?
One of the things that stood out to me most was the response video to FLOW from Nestle. If I had not watched FLOW or known anything about the water crisis, that video might have sold me. Luckily, previous documentaries have showed me how much power money has, and I made a few connections. Big food processing companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s pay huge amounts of money to prevent the labeling of GMOs on food packaging, and this stops the government and smaller efforts from passing such laws. Nestle could have easily done the same, or bribed government officials with their money and power to side with Nestle in the response video. Perhaps Nestle donates money to Michigan’s government, and in order to keep for government officials to keep their jobs, they cannot speak badly about Nestle. This is just an idea, but anything like this could happen. These companies are professional at hiding things from the public or framing their image a certain way.
Nestle also has professional lawyers to argue in court, like all big companies. Unlike many smaller efforts that bring a case to court, Nestle invests a significant amount in assuring the company maintains a good reputation. We all can see that Nestle should be punished for abusing their water resources and blowing up the price of water, but common sense does not always apply to law because of all the loopholes people find. The US justice system is not known for being the most reasonable either, hence the many senseless cases of suing and racial injustice. Stella Liebeck, for example, placed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for making her coffee too hot and causing her to be hospitalized for a burn. Surely, this was not the fault of a fast food company…
As for Coca-Cola, I should not have been surprised by the conditions the people of India suffer because of the company. Companies like this can only get so much money because they abuse the human rights of others, whether it be the right to a person’s land or his well-being. Coca-Cola damaged the water supply to the Indian villages and compensated with “free fertilizer” that contained toxins. Fortunately, the bottling plant was shut down after hard work from many individuals in the community.
As inspiring as the Indian villagers’ successful protests were, this usually is not the case against wealthy corporations. We need to stop all injustices such as this in other parts of the world, and most of the time, it cannot just be the locals of a developing country. Take the Bolivians from the documentary for example – they pose little danger to Suez, the company that takes advantage of the low water supply and poverty in Bolivia by selling overpriced water to locals. What could be more dehumanizing than depriving a population in poverty of the most vital life resource, water?
There is only one thing left to do – spread the word. I am so surprised that this issue has not exploded all over the media. This is equally as important as widespread education, fair labor, and access to medicine. Currently, the 31st Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proposes that universal access to clean water is a basic right. The United Nations has not accepted this article yet, but you can sign the petition to show that you believe clean water should be accessible for everyone. (Sign here: http://article31.org)