Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bottling Money

Bull Run

There's a company that's advertising its bottled water as "the best stuff on Earth." And it is. People are starting to realize that. There are a whole lot of things that are turning out to be not quite as important as we thought they were, but water is not one of them. People have known that forever. They used to distribute themselves in a reasonable way across the landscape in the olden days. If there was a spot that had water, that's where they parked their fannies. You've got a confluence of rivers, that's where the cities were.

We've got it pretty good around here. We've got a big lake up in the foothills and over a hundred years ago some folks had the bright idea of protecting the entire watershed that feeds it, and not building on it or sticking boats on it or pooping near it or anything, and they ran a big pipe from the lake to Portland. Then they dammed up another area downstream and got themselves a new reservoir and between the two of them we've got enough water to waste, even with a much bigger population. And it's delicious. Even the water that goes down the driveway is delicious.

Original water pipeline
It's pretty low-tech. Nothing but rain and gravity. No one is allowed to set foot in the hills that drain into the lakes. It's a big mass of unobstructed green up there. There are some places along the water pipeline where a few unobtrusive chemicals are added just to take care of random bacteria from elk poop but it's a very simple system. Sensible. This is exactly how people should come together to provide for the common good. Lots of folks think socialism is a dirty word but it's a lot more efficient than giving everyone a bucket and a gun and wishing them the best of luck.

You'd think we could all agree that water is a resource that should be cherished and protected because none of us can live without it, but no. The very fact that it's necessary is a lever that can be used to pry up a bunch of money. So companies are diverting public water into petroleum-based containers with a half-life of forever and marking it up by a factor of thousands and successfully selling it to people who actually have access to the same stuff coming out of their own tap. It's a mystery why they buy it, but they do.

Right here, up the Gorge a ways, they're talking about giving the Nestle Corporation the rights to some of our super-clean water so they can put it in those bottles and make us pay a ransom for it, and they're doing it because it will mean fifty people in the small town of Cascade Locks will get jobs. Shoot, we would all agree to jump in a mass grave if it meant we were fully employed digging the sucker first. It makes no sense to privatize a necessity like water, but we give wealthy people a lot of leeway. We even mistake wealth for virtue. If you've got enough money, you can buy your own vocabulary and teach it to the masses. You're not a leech, you're a job-creator, and even without any evidence, people will believe it.

If you and your friends are rich enough, you can even buy the terms of a new conversation. You can get ordinary working stiffs to believe there is something called a Death Tax, as though you can be taxed when you're dead, and not your pink, entitled heirs, with their smooth hands, who are the feckless recipients of your slab of cash.

You're in control of the lexicon. Nobody even talks about "pirates" anymore.

39 comments:

  1. I love you. Will you marry me?

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  2. marking it up by a factor of thousands and successfully selling it to people who actually have access to the same stuff coming out of their own tap

    If I weren't basically lazy, I'd start a company selling bottled air to the same idiots. I bet I'd make millions.

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    1. You and I could make a fortune except for that lazy thing. I still can't believe I didn't come up with that "Go the fuck to sleep" book first.

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    3. There are bars where you can buy oxygen.

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  3. One of my pet peeves: Coke goes to countries where water is truly hard to come by, digs wells or whatever, and turns water into Coke to SELL to poor people.

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  4. Nestle has a history of things like this and worse, here and in south and central America.

    I used to drive out past Sandy aways (70's), get off 26 and go north up an unnamed road, park off the usfs road where my vehicle wasn't visible, and hike about a half mile to Bull Run. It was very pleasant to swim there on a hot day, never crowded.

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    1. Did you pee in our drinking water?

      It's harder to get in there since 9/11. I think you could get your fanny shot off, which hampers many of your basic swim strokes.

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    2. Oh dear, if you only knew what we did up there......well, perhaps it's for the better.

      Although, one afternoon on the creek leading into the res we had a '64 Hermitage, and a doggie bag with a half a porterhouse from Ringside, and a crusty bread from a Sandy bakery.
      Funny what we pick and choose to remember, eh?

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  5. By and large, the majority of jobs are probably created not by the wealthy but by those long-suffering small business owners who gradually and laboriously expand Nicky's Knick-Knacks into a bigger and bigger outfit on the back of a huge overdraft that one day they might actually pay off.

    "Lots of folks think socialism is a dirty word but it's a lot more efficient than giving everyone a bucket and a gun." Amen to that.

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    1. Sometimes I wonder if we all need jobs at all. Or money, to be more specific.

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    2. I'm going to out myself as a big fan of The Walking Dead. (The graphic novel. I watch the TV show, but the novel really rocks.) One of the things that makes this a Utopian novel for me rather than a Doomsday scenario is the way the survivors have managed to hobble together a community where everyone pitches in and everyone gets their share, without any money or any bullshit about who has higher status. Sure they have to deal with zombies on occasion (but, actually, the more persistent threat is megalomaniacs who want to take what our intrepid band of survivors have managed to make for themselves and enthrall them -- and not in a good way). I love the way everyone actually knows that their contribution has meaning to the community. Everyone knows everyone else. They live sort of like pioneers... but with zombies. It's my grown-up, nerdy version of the Little House books.

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    3. Well that's good to know. I saw it once or twice and all I saw was da zombies. I was sure there would have to be more to it but I wasn't drawn in. Not that there aren't people I might chew on, given the opportunity.

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    4. Oooh! I have to get that book.

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  6. Dad-gum that awful socialist police department and fire department and library and I love pointing this out to pinheads who think socialism is so awful. I think it's entirely possible Nestle is the Anti-Christ. Since the jeep in The Gods Must Be Crazy is probably long dead and all.

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    1. Oh crap! I don't know that reference.

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  7. Bull's eye, Murr. You hit it.

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  8. Nominated for best sentence:
    If you've got enough money, you can buy your own vocabulary and teach it to the masses.

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    1. You also have to make sure the masses don't learn anything else.

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    2. Well, we certainly make sure they don't learn anything useful.

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    3. Well, we certainly make sure they don't learn anything useful.

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  9. YES.
    And of course it somehow makes sense to put the water in plastic bottles to litter the countryside with...

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    1. I think most of them end up in the ocean. Eventually.

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    2. Yep, often via the stomachs of peliagics...I'm trying to come up with something pithy...Nope. I got no pith.

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    3. It's hard to look at a skeleton of an albatross chick framing a former bellyful of bright plastic and be pithy at the same time.

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  10. I have to be near water. The next state south of you is half desert, but they park millions of people there. Why would they do that? Yes, it's sunny, but when the sun dries you out you get thirsty. Maybe they're like the cowboys in the old movies that come in after days in the desert and order whiskey.

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    1. I'll be fine as long as I have beer, right? (Is there a flaw in my logic?)

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  11. On the mark, as usual. Most of us need something to do that feels like we're working on that 'sense of purpose' thing. I see a lot of young adults beginning to question the relationship between acquiring wealth versus doing worthwhile things. I was raised to believe there was no difference between the two. Live and learn.

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    1. I know those young people. I loves 'em.

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  12. It's a shame that Nestle wants to buy in there. You can say no as much as you want, but they have the money and one way or another they will get what they want, eventually.

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