White people, stop embarrassing me »« I don’t even…

Deadbeat corporation

You had to know just from the name that Freedom Industries had to be an exploiter — that’s how right-wing capitalist thugs always name their enterprises. No surprise: they’re filing for bankruptcy.

Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without tap water for the better part of a week, filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday.

“I think they underestimated the liabilities just a tad,” attorney Aaron Harrah, who firm filed a purported class action lawsuit against Freedom and West Virginia American Water Co., told the Wall Street Journal. According to the Charleston Gazette, the company’s assets and liabilities are each listed as between $1 million and $10 million. Freedom owes $3.66 million to its top 20 unsecured creditors, over $2.4 million in unpaid taxes dating back to at least 2000 and nearly $93,000 in Kanawha County property taxes, about half of which were past due and had become delinquent.

They haven’t paid their taxes in over a decade? And no one in West Virginia thought to crack down on the deadbeats, or that maybe a company that can’t pay their bills might be delinquent on safety maintenance as well?

Comments

  1. Pteryxx says

    And no one in West Virginia thought to crack down on the deadbeats, or that maybe a company that can’t pay their bills might be delinquent on safety maintenance as well?

    I was just posting all this to the earlier spill thread here. Reposting in this fresh thread:

    More background on how water protections and drinking water supplies have been degraded to the point where one spill by one little company can expose 16% of a state’s population.

    From HuffPo: Who Owns West Virginia’s Water? A Cautionary Tale citing this extensive 2009 NY Times project.

    The topic of waste from coal preparation plants polluting well water in Prenter was the centerpiece of a blockbuster piece published by The New York Times in 2009 that described the systemic failures of states like West Virginia to enforce the federal Clean Water Act.

    [...]

    The article also describes the roots of the latest crisis in West Virginia in appalling detail: how even well-intentioned and ambitious state regulators proved no match for the politically sophisticated and powerful coal industry, how local politicians punish regulators who do their job effectively, and how the coal industry has perfected the art of dodging accountability for the damage it causes. But picking up where the Times left off, the story of how Prenter finally got drinking water restored provides even more useful insight into the roots of last week’s water crisis.

    In late 2009, the state gave final approval [PDF] for a public-private partnership between Boone County and West Virginia American Water Company — the utility that owns the treatment facility and water distribution network shut down since last Thursday — for a multi-million dollar project to run water lines out to Prenter and nearby communities. The project was mostly paid for by a federal Housing and Urban Development grant, with Boone County and West Virginia American Water Company making up the difference. Not a penny was paid by the coal companies that polluted the water in the first place.

    The paper trail of the state’s Public Service Commission filings that document the dramatic expansion of WVAWC’s water network over the past two decades (see map below) reveals similar stories happening again and again, as the company gobbled up one municipal utility after another, as well as individual homes whose wells were polluted by coal mining activities.

    via the blog Coal Tattoo, this statement from the environmental nonprofit Appalachian Voices:

    News reports of Thursday’s spill of a coal-processing chemical into West Virginia’s Elk River—and emergency orders to thousands of people to not drink or use their tap water—are currently focused on the still-unknown potential for direct harm to human health.

    But the widespread disruption caused by the spill raises other important questions, including: How could a relatively small-volume spill in one small river cut off drinking water access to roughly 300,000 people across eight counties—16% of the state’s entire population?

    An increasing number of private wells in southwestern and central West Virginia, where the spill occurred, have been contaminated by decades of coal mining and processing. One result has been an ongoing expansion of municipal water systems to rural communities that would otherwise rely on well water.

    At the same time, shrinking tax revenue and declining investments in public infrastructure have compelled localities to contract with private companies like American Water to provide drinking water services. Driven by profit margins, companies have aggressively consolidated their businesses, leading them to serve ever larger distribution networks from only a handful of treatment plants and drinking water intakes, as is the case with yesterday’s spill.

    West Virginia’s a case study of a government and populace in thrall to the coal industry. It’s not that they *create* jobs. Mostly they threaten to take jobs away.

  2. Pteryxx says

    Here’s the story of one West Virginia regulator, quoted from the 2009 NYT project.

    But in the late 1990s, some states’ enforcement of pollution laws began tapering off, according to regulators and environmentalists. Soon the E.P.A. started reporting that the nation’s rivers, lakes and estuaries were becoming dirtier again. Mr. Crum, after a stint in Washington with the Justice Department and the birth of his first child, joined West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, where new leadership was committed to revitalizing the Clean Water Act.

    He said his idealism was tested within two weeks, when he was called to a huge coal spill into a stream.

    “I met our inspector at the spill site, and we had this really awkward conversation,” Mr. Crum recalled. “I said we should shut down the mine until everything was cleaned up. The inspector agreed, but he said if he issued that order, he was scared of getting demoted or transferred to the middle of nowhere. Everyone was terrified of doing their job.”

    Mr. Crum temporarily shut the mine.

    In the next two years, he shut many polluting mines until they changed their ways. His tough approach raised his profile around the state.

    Mining companies, worried about attracting Mr. Crum’s attention, began improving their waste disposal practices, executives from that period said. But they also began complaining to their friends in the state’s legislature, they recalled in interviews, and started a whisper campaign accusing Mr. Crum of vendettas against particular companies — though those same executives now admit they had no evidence for those claims.

    In 2003, a new director, Stephanie Timmermeyer, was nominated to run the Department of Environmental Protection. One of West Virginia’s most powerful state lawmakers, Eustace Frederick, said she would be confirmed, but only if she agreed to fire Mr. Crum, according to several people who said they witnessed the conversation.

    She was given the job and soon summoned Mr. Crum to her office. He was dismissed two weeks after his second child’s birth.

  3. Pteryxx says

    On that bankruptcy filing, by the way.

    West Virginia Gazette:

    About an hour after its bankruptcy filing, Freedom filed an emergency motion for what’s called “debtor-in-possession,” or DIP, financing, which would allow it to secure up to a $5 million loan to continue to function in some capacity. The loan would, according to the filing, “provide additional liquidity to [Freedom] in order to allow it to continue as a going concern.”

    The lender in “debtor-in-possession” cases generally get first priority when it comes time for the debtor, in this case Freedom, to pay money back.

    “Under the bankruptcy code, when there is DIP financing from a DIP lender, 99 percent of the time they get priority over all the other creditors,” said Bob Simon, a prominent bankruptcy lawyer with the Pittsburgh firm Reed Smith. “You’re putting your money in at risk and the debtor is not going to have a lot of options, so the bankruptcy clerk permits the DIP lender to get priority over all the other lenders.”

    Freedom’s proposed lender is a company called WV Funding LLC. That company does not exist in West Virginia, according to business records on file with the West Virginia secretary of state. Pennsylvania’s secretary of state also has no records online for it.

    The DIP agreement has places to sign for Freedom Industries and for WV Funding “by Mountaineer Funding LLC.”

    Mountaineer Funding was incorporated with the West Virginia secretary of state on Friday. Its one listed member is J. Clifford Forrest, Freedom Industries’ owner.

    The DIP agreement states that the terms “were negotiated by the parties in good faith and at arm’s length.”

  4. Pteryxx says

    The 2009 NYT project includes multiple articles. Here’s another: Legal but not safe to drink

    The effects of pollution are clear throughout the Los Angeles area. In Santa Monica, officials have shut wells contaminated by a gasoline additive that is not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. In Pomona, a college town to the east, water supplies contain chemicals dumped by manufacturing and agricultural companies.

    And in Maywood, a city of 30,000 just southeast of downtown Los Angeles, tap water is often brown and tastes bitter, say residents. Many people don’t own white clothing, because they complain it becomes stained when it is washed.

    Last month, Carlos Husman drew a bath for his 4-month-old granddaughter that was filled with what looked like particles of rust and dirt, staining the sides of the bathtub.

    Maywood is only one square mile, but has three water systems. All are privately owned, so local officials have no real power except forcing them to follow federal and state regulations. About three-quarters of the nation’s water systems are private entities, beholden only to their shareholders and the law.

    Laboratory tests show Maywood’s tap water has contained toxic levels of mercury, lead, manganese and other chemicals that have been associated with liver and kidney damage, neurological diseases or cancer.

    But when Maywood’s residents asked for cleaner water, they were told what was flowing from the taps satisfied the Safe Drinking Water Act, and so the managers didn’t have to do more.

    Indeed, some of the chemicals in Mr. Husman’s water — like manganese, which has been associated with Parkinson’s disease — are essentially unregulated, and so the water system isn’t required to remove them, even when particles float in a glass.

    “When I shower in the morning, it looks like blood,” Mr. Husman said. “How can the government see this water, know it contains dangerous chemicals, and say it’s legal?”

    When a city council member named Felipe Aguirre lobbied for cleaner water, anonymous leaflets arrived. “Felipe Aguirre has deceived the citizens of Maywood!” one reads. “Felipe Aguirre does not care that Maywood residents will be paying more for water already safe to drink!” another says. “Do you want this liar and corrupt politician to decide the future of Maywood and its residents?”

    Water system managers say their water is safe. “If it wasn’t, the E.P.A. or the state would tell us to change,” said Gustavo Villa, general manager of Maywood Mutual Water Company No. 2. Before taking his job in 2006, Mr. Villa drove 18-wheeler trucks, and had no experience running a water system.

  5. Lagerbaer says

    In one point, Ayn Rand was right: There are looters among us who are destroying the country. She just wasn’t right about who the looters were.

  6. says

    She just wasn’t right about who the looters were.

    -Er, yes she was. You just haven’t read any of her books. She included deadbeat corporations as among the “moochers” in Atlas Shrugged

  7. anuran says

    Funny how individual bankruptcy protections were gutted under George II but the ones for corporations were increased.

  8. stripeycat says

    Now I’m definitely not getting any sleep tonight. And I thought our lot were corrupt wankers.

  9. cicely says

    I am psychic.
     
    As soon as this particular stream of shit hit the fan, I told The Husband, “Of course, they’ll be filing bankruptcy”.
     
    (But why, oh why, do my Vast Cosmic Powers not apply themselves to something useful?)
    -

  10. dmcclean says

    Pterryx @5, that article is fucking incredible. Holy shit.
    If the bankruptcy court allows anything remotely like that to happen it is a total sham.
    They have tangible assets (real estate, equipment, …) worth about what they owe. Liquidation is clearly the right outcome. Sell off their stuff, pay their back taxes, and if there are a few bucks left over pay their current creditors.
    Allowing the principals’ left hand to be debtor-in-possession for their right hand and screw over all the existing creditors is fucking insanity.

    The ubercapitalists should be the first ones in line, banging down the courthouse doors to say that this is total crap, to say nothing of the people who understand that externalities matter. Fuck.

  11. says

    Ibis3 (#1) -

    Job Creators.

    Is that “Job” like employement, or “Job” as in the bible?

    Corporations think they are as unaccountable as “god” and are certainly testing our patience.

  12. says

    I do not get it. How can a company not pay taxes for a decade? How is that even possible? Is there no legal obligation to pay taxes in USA and not being bancrupted already? I really do not get it, could someone fill me in how this could go on for ten years without ? IANAL, but AFAIK people and companies are due their taxes for each fiscal year, are they not? And if not, how is that supposed to work, how can the state function if company can not to pay taxes without consequences?

  13. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Gee. What a surprise.

    The owner has now insulated himself. And the workers, the environment, the government and the public get screwed.

    This must be that conservative ethic of responsibility I hear so much about.

  14. Pteryxx says

    More news roundup:

    NPR:

    The mayor of Charleston, W.Va., says the company behind the chemical spill that essentially shut down his city for days was run by “a small of group of renegades,” who in his opinion knew there were problems with the tanks that leaked dangerous chemicals into the city’s water supply.

    “I’m not even sure they cared what happened to the public,” Danny Jones told Melissa Block on Tuesday’s edition of All Things Considered.

    Transcript here.

    West Virginia senator Rockefeller is introducing bills to hold companies responsible: source with links to bill text.

    Rockefeller co-sponsored the bills with Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who is responding to a 233,000-gallon molasses spill that occurred in Honolulu last year.

    The legislation would force companies that spill materials that are dangerous but not deemed hazardous to pay for cleanup costs under the 1980 Superfund act. Currently polluters cannot be held liable under Superfund for cleanup costs if the materials released are not deemed hazardous.

    The bills also double the Superfund cap on clean-ups associated with harmful spills from $2 million to $4 million.

    According to the LA Times, more legislation is forthcoming:

    Also Friday, both of West Virginia’s U.S. senators introduced legislation that they said would protect Americans from chemical spills that threaten drinking water.

    The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), would require regular inspections of aboveground chemical storage facilities, force chemical companies to develop state-approved emergency response plans and allow states to recoup the costs of combating spills and improve the ability of water companies to respond to spills.

    West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, said Friday that he would introduce state legislation next week that would establish similar requirements, as well as regulations governing construction and maintenance of aboveground chemical storage tanks.

  15. says

    Ogvorbis (#17) –

    Gee. What a surprise.

    The owner has now insulated himself. And the workers, the environment, the government and the public get screwed.

    This must be that conservative ethic of responsibility I hear so much about.

    The conservatives must be mining the dictionary for obscure definitions and trying to use claim they are the most common meanings.

    regulation (n.) The act of bringing to uniformity; making regular

    So in their minds, “self-regulation” means to make their own behaviour normal (i.e. avoiding responsibility without facing consequences). It certainly explains how they are behaving now.

  16. kevinalexander says

    It’s Obama’s fault. I don’t know how but, for sure someone will explain it on talk radio.

  17. Larry says

    Here we have a massive bureaucracy in place to monitor and protect from terrorists our vital infrastructure such as power plants, ports, and even water supply structures and yet these things can be taken down, not by Al Qaeda terrorists, but by US business, itself. And to make it even more ironic, the owners get wealthier from their actions through the law.

    Makes one proud to be an American, don’t it?

  18. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    kevinalexander:

    Of course it is Obama’s fault. If he hadn’t created the minimum wage and forced unions on the workers, and made every company buy super duper beyond Cadillac health care for their peons, then they would have had the money to shore up those tanks and the leak would never have happened. But Obama is working to bankrupt the companies by making them treat workers like actual people which means there is only money for wages and prophets, but no money for safety or maintenance.

    See? Easy.

  19. Pteryxx says

    Lots of coverage at Al Jazeera:

    Legacy of coal mining

    The coal industry, however, says it’s the victim of overregulation and that it can’t be blamed for problems with the state’s water wells.

    “It’s just ridiculous to make such an allegation,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, an industry group.

    Although the chemical that spilled Thursday is used in the processing of raw coal, he said that the two were unrelated.

    “It has nothing to do with the mining industry. It happens to be a chemical that’s used in part of the mining process, but it has a lot of other purposes, including the purification of water.”

    Raney said that the industry complies or even “overcomplies” with the demands of government regulators and that tens of thousands of jobs in the state rely on mining and processing coal.

    “There are about 20,000 jobs that pay $60,000 to $70,000 a year, letting many families pay for college educations for their children. The best coal miners in the world live right here in West Virginia,” he said. “Coal still generates the majority of energy in America so everyone enjoys a very low-cost source of electricity.”

    He said that some regulations are fair but that others are based on “pseudoscience” and “create standards that are unachievable.”

    But environmentalists say the economic benefits of coal aren’t worth it if the state’s water remains undrinkable.

    Ben Stout, a professor of aquatic biology a Wheeling Jesuit University, said the clock is ticking on how much longer southern West Virginia will remain habitable if the pollution of water resources continues.

    In less than two decades, most of area’s water could become undrinkable, he says.

    “It”s not so fast. This has been going on for a century. Many communities in southern West Virginia have been depopulated,” Stout told Al Jazeera.

    According to this article, wealthy communities received adequate clean water while poor communities waited hours at pickup sites for water that was strictly rationed and ran out after as little as 20 minutes. Pictures at the link.

    Vivian Stockman, an activist with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, explained the difficulties facing the region’s disadvantaged as they attempt to find drinkable water. “If you’re elderly or disabled, if you don’t have a computer, if you don’t have extra money for trips in search of water or hot meals, then you are in much more dire straits.

    “If you are living paycheck to paycheck, purchasing bottled water or driving to the nearest distribution point for a rationed amount of water, it can quickly drain your wallet.”

    Dustin White, an environmental activist handing out free water in Nellis, said he believes economic inequality loomed over the entire ordeal, even affecting the amount of airtime most news networks gave the issue.

    “I feel that because of West Virginia’s low economic standing, a lot of the national media attention has been scarce,” White told Al Jazeera.

    “Had this been New York or California, there would have been much more media attention. I believe many in this nation see us as just poor, dumb hillbillies who can be sacrificed.”

    Also at that link, a United Way emergency fund for those who lost wages when their workplaces shut down due to lack of water.

    Also see this article on the coal industry disasters waiting to happen in a long-standing regulatory vacuum:

    On Dec. 30 the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement finally agreed to investigate five out of 19 West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regulatory failings cited in a petition by the Citizen Action for Real Enforcement campaign. The 120-page petition, filed in June, included such issues as flooding impacts and mining-pollutant discharge violations.

    For some residents, such action is welcome but far too little and too late.

    “Right now my eyes burn. I’ve had a headache for four days … because the real emergency alarm did not sound,” West Virginia poet Crystal Goodwoman told me on Sunday.

    The bottom line in West Virginia and the more than 20 other states where coal is mined is this: If our nation is serious about ensuring that clean water is delivered to citizens’ faucets, it cannot put clean-water regulations in the hands of the states, as the U.S. House of Representatives did Jan. 9 by quietly passing the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013.

    More here on that brand new House bill:

    The bill was approved on a party-line vote of 225-188, with only five Democrats supporting the measure, including Reps. Jim Costa of California, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. The nill is not likely to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    The legislation—the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act—is a combination of three separate measures introduced by Republican Reps. Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Bill Johnson and Bob Latta of Ohio. The package of bills would give states the ability to assign priority to Superfund cleanups managed by federal laws, impose state and local laws on federal cleanup projects, and block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing regulations for hazardous waste disposal in states where similar regulations already exist.

    House conservatives used the bill’s passage as a chance to put themselves on record in support of eliminating federal overreach in the environmental sector.

    “We are five years into this failed experiment of increased government spending, taxation, and regulation,” Gardner said in a statement. “The results are clear: The power to grow our economy and put Americans back to work lies in the private sector. With more than 80,000 pages of new federal regulations published in 2013 alone, commonsense revisions of existing rules and regulations are a vital part of ensuring businesses that power our state and local economies are given the capability to grow.”

  20. David Marjanović says

    West Virginia American Water Company — the utility that owns the treatment facility and water distribution network shut down since last Thursday —

    What.

    How is it even legal that such a thing is private!?!

    how is that supposed to work, how can the state function if company can not to pay taxes without consequences?

    Exactly: it isn’t working.

  21. whheydt says

    Re: Pteryxx’ report data…

    This bankruptcy is looking like they’re using the playbook from The SCO Group.

  22. Pteryxx says

    David M: it gets worse. West Virginia American Water Company is just a subsidiary.

    from the HuffPo article I cited above:

    The paper trail of the state’s Public Service Commission filings that document the dramatic expansion of WVAWC’s water network over the past two decades (see map below) reveals similar stories happening again and again, as the company gobbled up one municipal utility after another, as well as individual homes whose wells were polluted by coal mining activities.

    In one example, in 2004 the state gave approval for WVAWC to develop the Sharples Water Line Extension project in Logan County, which, according to PSC documents [PDF], was necessary because a coal company’s mining plans were likely to destroy wells that had provided a reliable supply of clean drinking water to nearby residents for generations.

    and Sourcewatch:

    American Water Works Company, Inc., known as American Water, is a publicly traded (NYSE: AWK) water utilities and sewage treatment company headquartered in Voorhees, New Jersey. It is the largest for-profit provider of water and wastewater services in the United States where 86 percent of consumers receive their water services from publicly owned water systems.[1] According to American Water’s 2012 Annual Report, it supplies “an estimated 14 million people with drinking water, wastewater and other water-related services in over 30 states and two Canadian provinces” and employs approximately 6,700 as of 2012.[2] American Water has been a major force behind the privatization of water services and has come under fire from communities across the country for charging high rates and providing poor services.[3] In 2012, American Water generated $2.9 billion in total operating revenue.[2] CEO Jeffrey Sterba has made over $8 million in the three years he has headed up the company.[4]

    The HuffPo article has a New Jersey map, and the Sourcewatch entry a US map, of American Water privatized systems.

  23. Pteryxx says

    *pardon, HuffPo has a *West Virginia* map. New Jersey is just where American Water’s HQ is.

  24. jnorris says

    Kanawha County’s prosecutor needs to ask hard questions. hard grand jury type questions. As does the state’s AG.

  25. anuran says

    @28 jnorris writes:

    Kanawha County’s prosecutor needs to ask hard questions. hard grand jury type questions. As does the state’s AG.

    The West Virginia government needs to ask the coal industry, the Koch brothers and a heavy donor to Republican candidates tough questions?

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Oh Lord, you should be doing standup.

  26. ck says

    Be careful: If you’re too insistent that Freedom Industries pay for the mess they caused, Rep Joe Barton will have to publicly apologize to them for the evil government shakedown.

  27. says

    DM

    How is it even legal that such a thing is private!?!

    This is ‘murka. It’s practically mandatory. It’s virtually inconceivable for anything to be done here if someone can’t profit off it.

  28. pamsmigh says

    So the asshat owner forms a new LLC, lends money to the bankrupt “Freedom” company, who will of course, default, then the asshat owner walks away w/all the real property of “Freedom” and everyone else can go take a jump into the polluted water.

    We’re #1. We’re #1!

  29. says

    ck
    This would be because the IMF/World Bank are Chicago-school scumfucks who push proven falsehoods because it makes it easier for multinationals to rip off whatever dregs of profit might be left in the countries they ‘help’.

  30. Pteryxx says

    Only one ingredient of spill tested – toxicity of all 7 combined is unknown

    A key corporate study used by federal health officials to set a screening level for “Crude MCHM” in the West Virginia American Water system actually tested a pure form of the material’s main ingredient and might not account for potential toxicity of other components, documents and interviews with public health officials showed Friday.

    “That is a huge problem,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University.

    U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials did not disclose the issue when they discussed their 1-part-per-million screening level for safe drinking water and did not respond Friday to repeated requests for comment.

    The issue, revealed when Eastman Chemical Co. made public its previously secret studies of the chemical it made and sold to Freedom Industries, raises more questions after last week’s toxic leak that fouled drinking water for more than 300,000 West Virginians.

    via Carl Zimmer on Twitter, toxicology writer Deborah Blum in Wired: Chemistry experiments in West Virginia – don’t try this at home. (Discussion of animal studies)

    I wrote earlier about the dismaying lack of safety data in a post called Chemical Guesswork in West Virginia. And I was not alone. “An unknown threat,” was the phrase in National Geographic’s story. “The colorless liquid has not been studied extensively,” was the understated analysis from Scientific American (which did a good job anyway of piecing together the limited information available anyway).

    My favorite quote came from a chemical safety official interviewed by Chemical & Engineering News: “You never want to be in the position of performing a toxicity experiment like this on your own drinking water supply.”

    [...]

    Oh and one other thing. The limited data used by CDC? It wasn’t government research on the compound because as we all know that doesn’t exist. It wasn’t based on independent testing. No, the government in case relied on the 15-year-old studies done by Eastman Chemical. Or to be precise one of the studies, a kind of superficial analysis that infuriated environmental advocacy groups like the Environmental Defense Fund. In fact – again as reported by the Gazette – the agency had so depended on that one study, which was done with “pure MCHM” that it’s own river testing looked only for that and not for the six other chemicals found in the “crude MCHM” that also spilled into the river.

    Still, those of us desperate for information will accept any data, any data at all. To that end, let’s look at the Eastman studies, shall we?

  31. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    Eastman Chemical Co

    As in the spinoff of Kodak? Interesting.

  32. David Marjanović says

    Unless I’m misremembering, I believe privatising water companies was one of the conditions for aid from the world bank and IMF.

    That explains why Bolivia tried it. (After a few months, as the water had become more expensive and worse, riots broke out and the water was nationalized again.) But the US?

  33. ck says

    @David Marjanović,

    Where do you think the demands for the IMF/World Bank to place these conditions on aid seeking countries originated from? The companies that wanted these conditions are perfectly happy to play the same game domestically as they do internationally, by approaching municipalities that are in dire financial situations and offering to pay a lot of money to privatize the water treatment facilities. Since the “accepted truth” in the U.S. is that government is bad at everything, companies bidding for this promise that prices will drop, water quality will be second to none, and service will be exceptional. Once they have the facilities, the opposite happens as they comply with the bare minimum required by the law.

  34. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    CK, I’m not David, but I’ll answer anyway.

    The IMF and World Bank are (largely) controlled by the acolytes of Milton Friedman.

    If you want a primer on that sort of thinking and how the IMF/World Bank approaches crises, check out Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine.

    Be warned, that book is awfully distressing.