Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Cost of a Right

    The Dictionary defines a right as “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.”  But, to must of the people I know a right is an excuse.  They’ll say when talking to a teacher “I get to say that because I have a right to free speech,” or when talking to a parent they will imply that their parents “can’t control them,” because they have rights.  The use of the term to those whose basic rights are all fulfilled is unimportant.  However,  unfortunately in our world many people do not have basic rights, and how we define those rights determines their access to them.
    Yesterday was Blog Action Day, the topic was water.  The human body is about 70% water.  We need it to lubricate the digestive system, to make up our blood, to remove wastes, to regulate body temperature, and more; yet not everyone considers it a right.  Water, isn’t a substance that we can consume optionally.  It is a necessity, without it we perish.  To say not everyone has a right to it is to say that it is up to us to decide who deserves to live and who deserves to die.  That simply isn’t something human beings should be able to decide.  The ability to have clean water is definitely a basic right, unfortunately clean fresh water is not located in all parts of the world.  Eight hundred and eighty four billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.  So the question is how to get it to them.
    There was an article in Newsweek this week discussing the new market for water.  The article questioned the right of private businesses to control the access of the public to water, but also discussed how the creation of a water market has the ability to aid in solving the water crisis.  I am a person without much faith in the morality of many businesses.  The goal of most businesses is to make money, which is understandable.  However,  to an unfortunately large number of businesses making money has become more than a goal, it has turned into an all encompassing profession of its own.  This has occurred even in some of the most important and supposedly public serving businesses, like the food industry.  Water, however, is not an asset that the world can afford to have handled in a “how much can I make selling this” kind of way, nor can the public afford to have it’s quality compromised in an effort to sell more of it.
    We need clean, safe, easily accessible water and we need it every day.  What scares me even more than the idea of a water business, is what will happen if we don’t find some way to solve this water crisis.  We have seen in the past the violence that occurs when there are food shortages.  People are willing to kill for a bag of rice, and a human can go for much longer without food than they can without water.
    I wish I had some perfect cure all answer to this situation.  But truth be told I don’t believe anyone does.  The one thing I do know is that whatever solutions there might be, they will come at a cost.  I guess the question is really not what can we do to get everyone clean safe water, but what are we willing to pay to ensure everyone’s basic rights?

To find out more about the water crisis visit:

1 comment:

  1. Nice write-up, you raise some good points
    First off I want a clarification, by 884 billion do you mean million, because I'm pretty sure we don't have 884 billion people in the world, otherwise we'd all be dead.
    It's a good point you raise about businesses and the bottom line of money, and how water should be available to everyone.
    Could you give some solutions researchers are looking into? I know about 6 years ago they were making some sort of filtration straw for people.