Corporations, Corporations, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

In case you don’t get the allusion in the title, it’s to a stanza in Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

I changed a few words to reflect the thinking of’s Lindsay Abrams in her piece Water is the new oil: How corporations took over a basic human right. Two-thirds of the article is an interview Abrams did with Karen Piper, a journalist touting her new book The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos, a book now on my wish list, by the way.

The problem with Abram’s story, however, is that it doesn’t deliver on its headline, nor does it deliver on her claim, a claim she makes near the beginning of the piece: “While it’s shocking to watch a city [Detroit] deny the rights of its own citizens, that’s nothing compared to what could happen if private water companies are allowed to take over.” Really? Why is that? Ultimately, she doesn’t say.

Instead, she goes on (or the interview does) to report example after example of governments (Turkey, for example, LA County for another) quasi-governmental organizations (IMF and World Bank), and wannabe governments (ISIS) that are doing much or most of the water damage.

Now, I don’t doubt that water is (or will be soon) a very big problem. Nor do I doubt that some corporations are (or will be) to blame for some of those problems. But why the headline “How corporations took over a basic human right” when the proffered solution-—government-—doesn’t look so hot and when she offers so little evidence of corporate malfeasance?

Methinks it’s because the word corporation sounds oh so much more nefarious than the word government. Based on Abrams’s story, however, maybe we have more to fear from the guys and gals in the white hats.

Cross posted at

Political Fun with Words

Poetry. I’m thinking about, no, reading, poetry. Deadline poetry to be exact. Deadline poetry written by Calvin Trillin, who is the designated Deadline Poet at The Nation. (He also writes for The New Yorker, and his short book About Alice is a gem–it’s about his wife Alice.)

Deadline poetry is essentially poetry written on deadline that captures some little bit in the news that day in poetic form, generally in rhyme. Given that Trillin writes for The Nation, most of his poems take shots at Republicans and rich people, but he’s not unwilling to take a shot or two at those on his side of the aisle. And so it was that on the day that Hillary Rodham Clinton went on The Today Show to defend Mr. Clinton at the beginning of what Trillin refers to as “the . . . unpleasantness,” he penned the following:

And so it’s up to our Ms. Rodham
To prove Bill’s White House isn’t Sodom.
It’s left to this adroit señora
To show that it is just Gomorrah.