The Globe Comes Knocking

There are so many issues that are somewhat theoretical to those of us here in Wausau. And some issues which only theoretical because the true impact has not been noticed yet. Here is a bit of an eye opener, or at least it was to me.

Veolia signA few years ago, I seem to remember there was a bit of a controversy when the city trash pickup contract was awarded to a national firm rather than a more local firm, that had previously held the contract. This all took place about two years ago and soon the green Onyx trucks appeared on city streets. At the time there was a bit of quibbling over giving the contract to a national company rather than a local one, but eventually the lowest bid won out.

Since that time, however, the green trucks have remained, but the signs on the side have changed. Instead of Onyx, they now read “Veolia.” There was nary a mention of this change in the Herald (at least according to the archive search system), but it is in fact a change of global importance. For Veolia is not just a national company, but it is an international company. Headquarted in France.

That is right, some of your tax dollars are going to build a villa in the south of France for some corporate CEO type. You can be proud that your tax dollars are helping in their small way to add some 11% to Veolia’s 25 billion Euro sales volume and their 623 million Euro profit in 2005 — up 59.1% from 2004! Hooray for Veolia!

Perhaps though Wausau is a mixed bag for Veolia because they used to own the misnamed US Filter, before selling it to Siemens (a German based corporation) back in 2004, according to archived articles in the Daily Herald.

Not only are your tax dollars going to build some corporate villas in the south of France, but they are also fueling the world water wars. Veolia is at the forefront of privitizing the world’s water supplies. Their 2005 annual report shows that Veolia increased their water business by about a billion Euros over 2004. Which a lot of people would not have a problem with, especially if that represented bottled water sales. Because we all love bottled water, right? Even if it is more expensive than gasoline in some cases. 🙂

But in addition to their bottled water business, Veolia (and other multinational corporations) also buy up privatized municipal water sytems. The basic operation is the same as trash collection. Lobby the heck out of government officials to convince them that private enterprise is “more efficient” and then scoop up a captive audience. And then eventually raise the rates. Remember, no matter what else they might say, a corporation’s only loyalty is to the bottom line.

Right now your trash dollars are going to France and soon your water may be funding their villas as well. Whatever you might think of the city or county doing these things at least pretty much 100% of the dollars stay here — and 100% of the decsion making stays here as well. People have complained for years about the “bureaucrats in Madison” or even worse, Washington making decisions for us. Now we have “corporatcrats” in France making decisions for us about our trash services. And who knows, maybe soon those same corporatcrats will be deciding who gets how much water, and how much it will cost.

But for now, be proud that your tax dollars are helping to fund the next resource war (after oil) — water.

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