Wednesday, August 16, 2006

All Wet

The confusion of needs with wants and with rights is a testament to the powerful hold that the notion of free-floating rights has in our society.

The United Church's proposed resolution to boycott bottled water is further evidence of that confusion:

Richard Chambers, the social policy co-ordinator with the national office of the church, said that water is a human right, and no one should profit from it.

"We're against the commodification, the privatization is another way to say it, of water anyway, anywhere," he told CBC News.

"And bottled water that we see being sold in Canada is just an example of that. The thin edge of the wedge of the privatization of water."

Chambers said congregations would be asked "to put their energies and their resources into making sure there is safe public access to water locally."

A man dying of thirst or suffocating from lack of air might be said to have his right to life infringed upon, provided that someone is actually acting against him with the intent to deprive him of life, rather than his deprivation arising out of mere accident or misadventure.

But to speak of the need for water as an abstract right to water is meaningless. As well say that man has a right to gravity.

Further, if it is the economic exploitation of water that concerns the United Church so much, then what differentiates the sale of drinking water from the generation of electricity from water power? Or from the use of water in irrigation? Or industrial processes?

If even the mere use of a product in commercial enterprise is commodification, then isn't everything under the sun--and radiating from it--commodified?

Source: CBC

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