Mapping Money

Economic activity which mainly uses raw materials such as waterways, sea, forests and soils, increased to a (GWP) (Gross World Product): (purchasing power parity exchange rates) of $23 trillion by 2002; $51.48 trillion by 2004 and $59.38 trillion by 2005 and in 2008 (market exchange rates) it was $60.69 trillion. Yet global wealth does not translate into an increase in global well-being. Extremes of wealth and poverty have increased and according to TD Bank Financial Group Economists Drummond and Tulk (2006) wealth disparities will intensify. In Canada alone, the wealthiest or Ultra High New Worth (UHNW) families, who comprise only a fraction of Canada’s households, controlled almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion in 2007. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by UHNW with family offices Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14).

Mavericks, tycoons and risk-takers, (many of whom became the Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals and families – people capable of seeing resources as opportunities and knowing how to manage them to their own advantage, are western heroes. As long as enough of the resources trickled down, translating into a reasonable quality of life for most people in the form of jobs, assets, properties, vehicles, services and common recreation and parklands, we remained in a love-hate relationship with the the elite who had status, wealth and/or power. In 1992 Ulrich Beck described a world where the unintended consequences of the production of the former were no longer benefiting the latter. Certitude in access to fundamentals like clean air, water, sufficient food, housing was eroding in places that had never doubted before. And how the UHNW are becoming even more enriched by using raw materials such as waterways, sea, forests and soil, is troubling.

The Bruntland Commission reported (1987) that since 1977 public concern had been seized by the realization that crises once considered to be separate and therefore more containable – such as environmental crisis, development crisis, energy crisis, (by 2009 include food crisis, water crisis, poverty crisis, financial crisis) – were in fact, global. The dissolving of boundaries between the neat compartmentalization of the globe and its resources into nation states and sectors (energy, agriculture, trade), and within broad areas of concern (environment, economics, social) which made them once seem as one-by-one problems with solutions, were already understood to be much more far-reaching and complex. The one-world one-earth future was no longer a utopian dream or dystopian nightmare, just a pragmatic reality Our Common Future.

Risk Management: Shrinking Watersheds and Aquifers

The most vulnerable to social exclusion, the most impoverished have been hit harder than ever before and their numbers are growing. We have the technical and scientific capacity to link data from different sources and scales and to make this information widely available through Web 2.0 or the social media – crucial information regarding public policies, legal aspects, ethics, (moral mathematics?) etc of the depletion of aquifers, watersheds, and the re-routing of limited water resources. Who is producing reliable assessments of extremes of water wealth and poverty? Without access to balanced, objective information how can we expect to have the individual, political and institutional will to establish objective criterion for indexing water resource use and management? With information, can we hope for knowledge and dream of wisdom?

Groundwater Processes are Virtually Unknown

“Many of Canada’s freshwater resources are under stress because of increasing municipal and industrial use and impacts from human activities. To ensure protection of public health and the aquatic environment, Canadians need state-of-the-art treatment plants capable of removing a growing array of pollutants from wastewaters. This includes emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals disposed of in the sewage system, pathogens such as the Corona virus, and nutrients that feed unwanted and potentially toxic algae growth. In Alberta, groundwater processes are virtually unknown. The full long-term impacts of water use by the oil and gas industry are poorly understood, and future expansion of this industry will rely on improved, cost-effective water conservation and management practices. Dr. Tom Harding of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy does on research areas the recycling and reuse of water in oil and gas production (ISEEE).”

Is water a commodity or a human right?

According to T. Boone Pickens (b. 1919- ), the Texas oil tycoon, “he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” See also Mapping Blue Gold

According to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNESCO) water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when [they] adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right. “The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights.” (UNESCO 2002-11-27).

According to BBC News Online environment correspondent, Alex Kirby, who explored fears of an impending global water crisis in his 2004 article when 1/3 of the world’s population were already living in water-stressed countries, “We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth’s supply (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

According to The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.”Our Common Future.” “Water is essential for life, and an adequate water supply is a prerequisite for human and economic development. It hasbeen recognized that human behavior can have an impact both on water, and on the global ecosystem, and that there is a need to regulate that behavior in order to stabilize and sustain our future (WCED, 1987 cited in Sullivan 2002). Global water resources are limited, and only through a more sustainable approach to water management, and more equitable and ecologically sensitive strategies of water allocation and use, can we hope to achieve the international development targets for poverty reduction that have been set for 2015 (DFID, 2000).”

According to University of Alberta’s Dr. Bill Donahue, Alberta treats water ”as an inexhaustible resource [...] The disconnect between supply and demand is not sustainable (Simon 2002-08-09)..”

“Water, an increasingly valuable multiple-use resource, is the source of continuing conflict in Canada and abroad. Its use and control presents significant challenges to governments, stakeholders, and citizens. Canadian Water Politics explores the nature of water use conflicts and the need for institutional designs and reforms to meet the governance challenges now and in the future. The editors present an overview of the properties of water, the nature of water uses, and the institutions that underpin water politics. Contributors highlight specific water policy concerns and conflicts in various parts of Canada and cover issues ranging from the Walkerton drinking water tragedy, water export policy, Great Lakes pollution, St Lawrence River shipping, Alberta irrigation and oil production, and fisheries management on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Canada – with its Great Lakes, three oceans, and border with the US – provides an ideal reference point for studying water use rivalries, conflicts, and governance. By exploring the controversies surrounding water management in Canada, Canadian Water Politics is an essential source for citizens, officials, academics and students, and contributes to our understanding of natural resource management and environmental policy at home and globally (Review of Sproule-Jones, Johns and Heinmiller 2008-11-20).”

Who’s Who

The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), created by the United Nations in 1983, to address growing concern “about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.” In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for sustainable development. (WCED 1987). Their report entitled “One Common Future” recommended securing water availability for the needs of future generations. “On the development side, in terms of absolute numbers there are more hungry people in the world than ever before, and their numbers are increasing. So are the numbers who cannot read or write, the numbers without safe water or safe and sound homes, and the numbers short of woodfuel with which to cook and warm themselves. The gap between rich and poor nations is widening – not shrinking – and there is little prospect, given present trends and institutional arrangements, that this process will be reversed (WCED 1987:1).”

Copenhagen Climate Council is an Anti-Kyoto organisation which “works against most US government efforts to address climate change.” The self-defined ”global climate leaders” are in fact business leaders as CEOs of major global corporations, hoping to seize “seize the unique opportunity which the Copenhagen Summit 2009 offers to do something good for the global environment and at the same time do good business.” The U.N.’s post-Kyoto, post-2012 negotiations will be finalised in Copenhagen in 2009. Global business leaders issued “The Copenhagen Call” at the close of the World Business Summit on Climate Change on May 26 where CEOs discussed “how their firms can help solve the climate crisis through innovative business models, new partnerships, and the development of low-carbon technologies. They will send a strong message to the negotiating governments on how to remove barriers and create incentives for implementation of new solutions in a post-Kyoto framework.” The Climate Council is represented by Don Pearlman, an international anti-Kyoto lobbyist who was a paid adviser to the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments who followed the US line against Kyoto. Ms Dobriansky met Don Pearlman to “solicit [his] views as part of our dialogue with friends and allies (Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Maud Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians- A citizen’s watchdog organization with over 100,000 members. One of their ongoing campaigns is that water is a public trust which belongs to everyone. She is also the co-author of Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

Bechtel Corporation (Bechtel Group) is the largest engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 7th-largest privately owned company in the U.S. With headquarters in San Francisco. wiki Bechtel was forced to back down on its efforts to taking control of the Cochabamba, Bolivia water supply and privatizing it in 2000 when Bolivian protesters were joined by overwhelming international support. Bechtel Corporation, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction services companies has been owned and operated by the Bechtel family since incorporating the company in 1945. It was founded by Warren A. Bechtel (1872 – 1933) in 1898. The current Bechtel CEO is Riley P. Bechtel, one of the richest men in the United States. wiki

Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for President George Bush’s administration between 2001 and 2004, sought the advice of anti-Kyoto Exxon executives on what climate change policies Exxon might find acceptable and thanking them for their active involvement in helping to determine climate change policy. These exchanges were revealed in the US State Department briefing papers, “documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month’s G8 meeting [2005], reinforc[ing] widely-held suspicions of how close the company [Exxon] is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta was quoted in the New York Times: Alberta treats water ”as an inexhaustible resource [...] The disconnect between supply and demand is not sustainable (Simon 2002-08-09)..” Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta’s Environmental Research and Studies Centre said his research at Muriel Lake suggested that the oil companies’ appetite for water was having a long-term effect. Although heavy rains in 1997 replenished many other lakes in the area, but the level of Muriel Lake is falling again. Mr. Donahue said the addition of chemicals to water used in oil recovery and the fact that much of the recycled water ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle (Simon 2002-08-09)..” “The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society was formed in 1999 in response to these severe losses of water. In 2002, Dr. Bill Donahue, with the support of Dr. Dave Schindler, the Gordon Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and ERSC, began a study to determine the local and regional water budgets. Drs. Bill Donahue and Alex Wolfe also began a study of the history of water quality, biology, and climate change in Muriel Lake.” Limnologist Anne-Marie Anderson reported that the lake levels of Muriel Lake (northeast of Edmonton and close to the hub of oil sands activity, including Imperial’s Cold Lake operation) were monitored since 1967. The lake reached its maximum in 1974, a very wet year but since then water levels declined steadily, a drop in lake level of nearly 3 m in 2000 from 6.6 m in 1962. As a result of the drop in lake levels, shoreline width has increased considerably. This amounts to perhaps a 50 to 60% loss in the volume of water. There are also concerns that the decline in water levels is resulting in a deterioration of lake water quality and fishing. (Anderson 2000-04).

Exxon the US’s most valuable company valued at $379bn (£206bn) dominates The Global Climate Coalition GGC, and is the main anti-Kyoto US industry group. President Bush considered Exxon “among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions [...] Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for President George Bush’s administration between 2001 and 2004, sought the advice of anti-Kyoto Exxon executives on what climate change policies Exxon might find acceptable and thanking them for their active involvement in helping to determine climate change policy. These exchanges were revealed in the US State Department briefing papers, “documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month’s G8 meeting [2005], reinforc[ing] widely-held suspicions of how close the company [Exxon] is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

The Global Climate Coalition GGC, dominated by Exxon, is the main anti-Kyoto US industry group. President Bush considered Exxon “among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Oscar Olivera, was secretary of the Bolivian Federation of Factory Workers. In 2006 he addressed the World Development Movement conference held in Britain on the theme of “Whose Rules Rule.” He was a protest leader against water privatisation by the US-based multinational company Bechtel when Bechtel came to Cochabamba, Bolivia with the intention of taking control of the water supply and privatizing it in 2000. Olivera won the 2001 Goldman environment prize.

T. Boone Pickens (b. 1919- ) Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon, who made his fortune in oilpatch investments, is now planning on building the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. In 2008 he introduced “The Pickens Plan, [which called] for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third by making natural gas and wind power much bigger parts of America’s energy supply.” (CBC 2009-06-17.) He proposes that the private sector build thousands of wind turbines that could potentially supply one-fifth of electricity in the U.S. He claims wind power would replace natural gas in power generation; natural gas could then replace diesel and gasoline as a transportation and the U.S. could become free from its foreign oil dependency. He insists that Canadian oil is not considered to be “foreign.” ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

Pickens who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets. “T. Boone Pickens [...] owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already [had in 2008], some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” In June of 2009 he claimed that he was very interested in Alberta as a potential site for his giant wind farms if he could make a better deal in Alberta than in Texas. He is already priming the Alberta business community. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their oil, water and/or energy supply. He is persistent, single-minded and worked for decades to one by one change relevant laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas to gain the control he needed. Pickens donated $2.25 million in 2006 to establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, which was created by Pickens’ long-time friend Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss with a gift of $15 million in 2004. In June 2008 Pickens donated another $25 million to research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which is the largest donation ever given to the University of Calgary by a single person and the only philanthropic donation Pickens has made outside the U.S. Pickens, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has given away $700 million from 2003 to 2008. Pickens lived in Calgary briefly in the 1960s working as a geologist ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

T. Boone Pickens engineered a shrewd takeover of an 8 acres stretch of scrub-land near Amarillo, Roberts County, Texas. The acquisition of this land was “central to Pickens’ plan to create an agency to condemn property and sell tax-exempt bonds in the search for one of his other favorite commodities: water. Approval of the water district was all but certain as Texans voted [November 2007] in state and local elections. By law, only the two people who actually live on the eight acres will be allowed to vote: the manager of Pickens’ nearby Mesa Vista ranch and his wife. The other three owners, who will sit on the district’s board, all work for Pickens. Pickens “has pulled a shenanigan,” said Phillip Smith, a rancher who serves on a local water-conservation board. “He’s obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.” Pickens and his allies say no shenanigans are involved. Once the district is created, the board will be able to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Pickens’ planned 328-mile, $2.2 billion pipeline to transport water from the Panhandle across the prairie to the suburbs of Dallas and San Antonio. If Pickens can’t find a buyer for the bonds or for his water – and he hasn’t yet – he might buy the bonds himself to jump-start the project, said his Dallas-based lawyer, Monty Humble of Vinson and Elkins. The board will spend about $110 million to buy the right-of-way for the pipeline, using the power of eminent domain to acquire property if necessary, Humble said. Still, Pickens faces obstacles. To help pay for construction, he plans to piggyback wind power on the water infrastructure. He plans wind farms on the ranchland and wants to run electricity cables along the right-of-way of Mesa’s water pipeline. All told, the wind and water project is expected to cost more than $10 billion. Pickens said he has about $100 million invested so far. “This is a $10 billion project,” he said in an interview. “It better be profitable.” Most of all, he needs a group of confirmed buyers for his water. That’s in part because of political resistance to his plan for acquiring water rights. Several Dallas-area water districts have refused to sign up. “We have real concerns about private control of water,” said Ken Kramer, director of the Texas Sierra Club. “Water is a resource, yet in some respects it is a commodity. It’s as essential to human life as air. That puts water in a different class.” John Spearman Jr., a Roberts County rancher and chairman of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, is one of many local critics who contend that Pickens’ water play could upset conservation efforts and seeks to profit from shortages of a vital resource. “He has the legal authority to do it,” Spearman says. “We can’t stop him (Woellert 2007-11-07.”

Meera Karunananthan, water campaigner for The Council of Canadians opposes an expanded Alberta water market. “The water market system is absolutely not the solution. We consider water to be a human right. When you allocate according to the laws of the market, then you see water going to those who can pay the most. So it goes to the highest bidder.” She argues the government should instead create a hierarchy of water use, allocating to those who need it most — including the environment (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), an international environmental treaty The Kyoto Accord was first negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, to “establish a legally binding international agreement, whereby all the participating nations commit themselves to tackling the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.” The objective was to stabilize and reconstruct “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto negotiations built upon the research of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. The agreement finally came into force on 16 February 2005 when following ratification by Russia ratified it on 18 November 2004. As of 14 January 2009, 183 countries and the European Community ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol include “commitments to reduce greenhouse gases that are legally binding; implementation to meet the Protocol objectives, to prepare policies and measures which reduce greenhouse gases; increasing absorption of these gases and use all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, clean development mechanism and emissions trading; being rewarded with credits which allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home; minimizing impacts on developing countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change; accounting, reporting and review to ensure the integrity of the Protocol; compliance by establishing a compliance committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.” wiki

Vivendi water is the backbone of Vivendi company according to Maud Barlow, with c. 295,000 people working just in their water department alone. So these companies came onto the scene first in France interestingly enough because France flirted with the privatization of water first then moved over to Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher and then with the World Bank backing them have moved all through the third world where they are failing every single solitary place that they are operating.

Manthan Adhyayan Kendra centre, based in the Narmada Valley, was founded by Shripad Dharmadhikary in October 2001 to research, analyse and monitor water and energy issues. Manthan’s two major themes of work are (a) large dams, irrigation and hydropower and (b) Privatisation and commercialisation of water and power in India. Dharmadhikary was a full time activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan for 12 years, the mass organisation of people affected by large dams on the Narmada river in India. He was closely associated with the World Commission on Dams from its inception to its follow up UNEP-Dams and Development Project. He has recently completed a study on hydropower dam building in the Himalayas for International Rivers titled Mountains of Concrete. Other publications include Unravelling Bhakra, the report of a three year study (2001-12 through 2004-12) led by him of the Bhakra Nangal project. This study claims to completely overturn many of the popular notions and perceptions associated with the Bhakra Nangal Project. Currently, Manthan is working on the issues and impacts of privatisation of the water sector in India, including a study of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model that is being pushed in the water sector, and the implications – financial, economic, social, environmental and access – of large scale privatisation of hydropower.

Professor Cathy Ryan, Department of Geoscience and the BScEnvironmental Science Program, University of Calgary “has inspired inspired an undergraduate research programin Environmental Science, as part of which students work in partnership with government, private sector and non-governmental collaborators to collect and analyze original data. The results of these studies are reported back to community stakeholders at enthusiastically-attended open houses.Meanwhile, Professor Ryan’s active contributions to local watershed groups (among them, Friends of Fish Creek, Elbow River WatershedPartnership, Nose Creek Watershed Partnershipand the Bow River Basin Council) are further evi-dence of a community engagement that extends beyond the normal call of academic duties. As a Board Member of the Bow River Basin Councilfrom 2004 to 2008, she provided technical advice and was an invited speaker and presenter on research activities that informed local landuse policymaking.The value of Professor Ryan’s input, and a furthermeasure of her community service, is manifest infrequent invitations to participate in regional,municipal, provincial and national workshops. Beyond simply sharing research findings, these presentations help to guide groundwater man-agement initiatives, including a successful 2006 municipal bylaw proposal for Environmental Setbacks for the Bow and Elbow Rivers. Currently, Professor Ryan is also the Assistant Program Director for the Central American WaterResources Management Network, a training net-work designed to better enable Central American universities and local communities to protect their water resources. Professor Ryan has published on Central American hydrogeology and water quality, in addition to her research in Alberta.Professor Ryan’s research interests include thefate of agricultural, human, and industrial wastes in groundwater and surface water. An examination of the impact of Calgary waste water on theBow River led in turn to a part-time sabbatical appointment as a Senior Water Policy Advisor to the City of Calgary. Professor Ryan subsequently received the City of Calgary Environmental Achievement Award in June 2008. Professor Ryan received her BASc in Geological Engineering from Queen’s University and her MSc and PhD (1994) in Earth Sciences from the University of Waterloo. She is also an adjunct professor in the Schulich School of Engineering, and has been a member of the Faculty Association since 1997 (University of Calgary 2009 awards).”

World Bank “The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97. At the same time, the World Bank increased its support for private investment in utilities through its International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). While Bank lending to public electricity utilities dropped from about $2.9 billion in 1990 to only $824 million in 2001, its sector lending to private investors rose from $45 million to $687 million. Lending about $20 billion to water supply projects over the last 12 years, the World Bank has not only been a principal financier of privatisation, it has also increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

World Water Council 2009 Report

Water Poverty Index This paper provides discussion of ways in which an interdisciplinary approach can be
taken to produce an integrated assessment of water stress and scarcity, linking physical estimates of water availability with socioeconomic variables that reflect poverty, i.e., a Water Poverty Index to contribute to more equitable solutions for water allocation. A ‘‘Water Poverty Index’’ would enable progress toward development targets to be monitored, and water projects to be better targeted to meet the needs of the current generation, while securing water availability for the needsof future generations, as recommended in the Brundtland Report (WCED 1987). It is known that poor households often suffer from poor water provision, and this results in a significant loss of time and effort, especially for women. Sullivan provided a summary of different approaches to establish a Water Poverty Index by linking the physical and social sciences to address this issue (Sullivan, Caroline. 2002 “Calculating a Water Poverty Index.” World Development. 30:7: 1195–1210).”

Sir Richard Branson Founder and CEO, Virgin Group, (Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) is on The Copenhagen Climate Council. He “has recently pledged all profits from his Virgin air and rail interests over the next 10 years to combating rising global temperatures. However, the estimated $3bn will be invested in Virgin Fuels. Much of the investment will focus on biofuels, an alternative to oil-based fuels made from plants. [...] “…in our particular case we are putting all the profit we have got from our airline business into trying to develop clean fuels so that hopefully one day we can actually have fuels that we can fly our plains by, that will not do any damage to the environment (Branson).”

Selected Watersheds

Bow River watershed

The San Joaquin River watershed originates in Martha Lake (California) and winds through California for 530 km flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and then San Francisco Bay. The basin area is 83,000 km2.

Selected Timeline of Events Related to Watersheds: Licensing Blue Gold or Managing a Human Right

1728 Mennonite brothers, the Bechtels, came to America in the early 1700s from Switzerland.

1846 German-born Heinrich Kreiser (aka Henry Miller) (Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) immigrated to the United States arriving in California in 1850. The Miller and Lux company became the largest producer of cattle in California and one of the largest landowners in the United States, owning 1,400,000 acres (5,700 km2) directly and controlling nearly 22,000 square miles (57,000 km2) of cattle and farm land in California, Nevada, and Oregon. The Miller and Lux Corporation was headquartered in Los Banos, California, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Miller played a major role in the development of much of the San Joaquin Valley during the late 19th century.

early 1900s The Alberta agricultural irrigation industry acquired massive water licences. Since then they have relied on the first-in-time, first-in-right licensing system which gave priority to whoever got water licences first (Klaszus 2009-06-25).. In Alberta, water has been traditionally allocated on the “first-in-time, first-in-right” principle for both surface and ground water. The older the licence, the higher that user is on the priority list. This allows the owners of the first licenses issued to access the full amount of water issued before newer licensees have access, regardless of use. Furthermore, water licenses granted under this principle have no expiry date. However, licenses issued under the Water Act are now issued for a fixed period. In a review of Canadian Water Politics (2008) Chris McLaughlin, CEO of the Niagara Escarpment Foundation agreed with the book’s insightful comments that “the historical path dependency of current water allocation privileges – first-in-time, first-in-right – continues to favour entrenched agricultural, industrial and commercial interests who had their water claims institutionalized in law well before the value of “sustainability” was recognized. The reality inhibits institutional change, especially the adaptation of institutions to evolving water conflicts and other shifts social-ecological realities (McLaughlin 2009:31).”

1913 Oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller, who became the world’s first billionaire, was the wealthiest person in the modern history of the world. Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW)

1930s The Bechtel Six Companies, a joint venture of construction companies built The Hoover Dam, named after President Herbert Hoover). This hydroelectric dam on the Colorado River was at that time the largest civil engineering project ever undertaken.

1940s Friant Dam was constructed as part of the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project in the 1940s. Its purpose was to divert the waters of the San Joaquin to maximize their use to help people, both to irrigate crops and to provide groundwater recharge. Most of the waters of the San Joaquin River are diverted into canals so that the river remains dry for a 17 miles (27 km) except when flood control requires additional releases from the dam.

1950s Using raw materials from watersheds, seas, forests and soils 80% of the global industrial growth since the 1880s occurred since 1950. Industrial production grew more than fifty-fold from 1887-1987. There was already a $13 trillion world economy in 1987 Our Common Future.

1963-10-22 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru opened the 740-feet high Bhakra multipurpose hydroelectric project claiming to ushering an era of agriculture development, Nehru had aptly declared Bhakra ‘the temple of modern India’.

1966-08 Helsinki Rules on the uses of the Waters of International Rivers. 1966-08. Adopted by the International Law Association at the 52nd conference, held at Helsinki. Report of the Committee on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. London: International Law Association (1967).

1969 The world’s first ministry of environment was established in Japan in 1969.

1970 Canada introduced its Ministry of the Environment.

1971 Ontario introduced its Ministry of the Environment.

Late 1970s Most OECD countries had a comprehensive framework of laws and regulations concerning waste and pollution.

1987 “State of the environment: National reports.” Nairobi: UNEP.

1984-1987 The World Commission on Environment and Development reported that between October 1984. and April 1987: “The drought-triggered, environment-development crisis in Africa peaked, putting 36 million people at risk, killing perhaps a million; A leak from a pesticides factory in Bhopal, India, killed more than 2,000 people and blinded and injured over 200,000 more; Liquid gas tanks exploded in Mexico City, killing 1,000 and leaving thousands more homeless; The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion sent nuclear fallout across Europe, increasing the risks of future human cancers; Agricultural chemicals, solvents, and mercury flowed into the Rhine River during a warehouse fire in Switzerland, killing millions of fish and threatening drinking water in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands; An estimated 60 million people died of diarrhoeal diseases related to unsafe drinking water and malnutrition; most of the victims were children (WCED 1987).”

1987. The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) published their report entitled “Our Common Future,” known as the Brundtland Report.

1987 Report of the Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management

1989 “[The] government of Argentina embarked on a major privatization program, and water and sewage were not excluded (Orwin 1999-08).” This contract [was] terminated in 1999. Problems with quality and cost prompted the new government, which had been in opposition when the contract was negotiated, to take the action. The major partner in the consortium, Vivendi, sued the region for compensation ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1992-04 Three Gorges Dam, so enormous it would become the world’s biggest dam, sparked the biggest political debate in Communist China’s history in the National People’s Congress, China’s annual parliament. Nearly one-third voted against the dam or abstained – an unprecedented figure (Coonan 2006-03-17.

1992 The degree of water privatization in Canada and the United States was minimal. While more than half of the American water utilities were privately owned, and while cities such as Indianapolis and Atlanta were increasingly contracting out their water and sewage services, public utilities remained the norm in large cities; in 1992, they served 85 per cent of the U. S. population ( From Orwin 1999-08).

Early 1990s “[C]ritics in both the public and the private sector had questioned the appropriateness of a regulatory approach based on what was called “the old system of command and approaches such as economic instruments or voluntary measures. At the same time, governments were facing strong fiscal pressures to reduce the cost of their operations in order to stop the downward spiral of growing deficits and debt. These fiscal pressures were given ideological impetus by political parties that favored deregulation, downsizing and privatization (Ministry of the Environment research 2000).”

1992 Sullivan (1992) called for the political will and institutional acceptance so that individual countries would be enable to produce their own integrated assessments of water poverty. She recommended the use of participatory action research at the community level to involve and educate local people in terms of their water needs enabling them to better understand, communicate and negotiate with policy makers. “By providing information about household welfare, and water stress at the household and community level, this locally generated data can form the core of the Water Poverty Index (WPI).

1993 “The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97. At the same time, the World Bank increased its support for private investment in utilities through its International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). While Bank lending to public electricity utilities dropped from about $2.9 billion in 1990 to only $824 million in 2001, its sector lending to private investors rose from $45 million to $687 million. Lending about $20 billion to water supply projects over the last 12 years, the World Bank has not only been a principal financier of privatisation, it has also increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

1994 Ontario passed the Environmental Bill of Rights.

1994 In Ecuador the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) giving a grant to the government to set up the necessary reforms of pricing and regulatory procedures to encourage further privatization in the water and sewage sector. By 1999 The government of Ecuador planned on privatizing all water utilities, for the sake of financing further investment ( Orwin 1999-08).

1995-06 Mike Harris as Premier of Ontario , declared a “Common Sense Revolution” in which he announced that Ontario was “open for business” promised to cut red tape and get government (particularly the Environment ministry) “out of the face” of business. Over the next two years, the budget of Moe was cut nearly 50% and the staff was reduced by more than 40% . The impact of these cuts on the capacity of Moe to serve the public interest in relation to the taro operations was cited in print media coverage of the controversy (Ministry of the Environment (MOE) research 2000).”

1995-11 The World Bank offered large loans to Bogota, Columbia to convert the dysfunctional municipal monopoly into a privatized utility.

Postel, S. L. (1996). Dividing the waters: food security, ecosystem health, and the new policies of scarcity. Worldwatch Paper No. 132, P29. Washington, DC:
Worldwatch Institute.

1996-12 The government of Chili “introduced a bill to fully privatize state-run water works, the first such legislation in South America. It faced strong opposition even within the ruling coalition but the bill was passed with some compromises, including a stipulation that the government must maintain 35 per cent equity, with some of the remainder being owned by the company employees. In April 1997, the government announced its intention to privatize wastewater treatment as well. The privatization package was finally approved in January 1998, and 55 per cent of the utilities involved were expected to be privatized by March 1999. ( From Orwin 1999-08).

1997-03 The 1st World Water Forum was held in Marrakech, Morocco.

1997-07 La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia “turned their water and sewerage systems over to the French company Lyonnaise des Eaux in July 1997, despite large protests and agitations by the opposition, which periodically paralysed both municipalities. Interestingly, the coalition in favour of the agreement included not only the governments and the water companies but the labor unions as well, who helped ensure the completion of the process. Lyonnaise des Eaux own[ed] 34 per cent of the new company, while a combination of Bolivian and Argentine directors own[ed] the rest ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1998 Postel, S. L. 1998. “Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?” Biosciences. 28:629–637.

1998-09-17 Orwin’s report on the privatization of water reveals his enthusiasm for the privatization of water and sewage systems. Vivendi and Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux joined to vie for the concession for Rio de Janeiro’s water and sewage systems. At that time some of Brazil’s municipal governments that own[ed] the water and sewage systems sought private sector help. Aguas de Limeira, a joint venture between the French conglomerate Lyonnaise des Eaux and Companhia Brasileira de Projectos e Obras, provided water and sanitation to the 250,000 people of the Sao Paulo suburb of Limeira. Degremont, Lyon built two water purification plants in Sao Paulo: one for Sao Miguel (population 700,000) and one for Novo Mondo (population 1,000,000) [...] Vivendi acquired 30% shares in Sanepar, which serves seven million people in the state of Parana. ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1998 Author Shripad Dharmadhikary writes: “the Bank’s process of generating knowledge is flawed and exclusionary. It excludes common people, and their traditional expertise and knowledge. The Bank’s knowledge is frequently created by highly paid, often international, consultants, who have little knowledge of local conditions. The knowledge creation is mostly directed towards arriving at a pre-determined set of policies – privatisation and globalisation. This knowledge creation is often selective, in that information, evidence or experiences that do not support these pre-determined outcomes are ignored. The book is based on case studies of the Indian water sector review in 1998, the Bank-support Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (see Update 56), water privatisation in Delhi, and a project for water restructuring in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Dharmadhikary finds that “[the Bank's] policies have cut people’s access to water, led to environmental destruction, resulted in displacement and destitution of people, stifled better options for water resource management, have had huge opportunity costs, and privileged corporate profits over social responsibility and equity.”

1999 “In Canada, virtually all water and sewage systems [were] publicly owned and operated. However, privatization [was] very slowly getting off the ground in Ontario, where private companies serve[d] 500,000 people,(2) approximately 4.5 per cent of the provincial population. There [was] also some scattered private participation in Alberta and British Columbia, and privatization [was] being considered by two of the larger Maritime cities ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1999 The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $70-million loan to reform regulatory systems so as to encourage private sector involvement in Bolivia. Bolivia had begun “major restructuring of the water sector in 1991, which involved the transfer of powers from the central level to the municipal level ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1999 As the water crisis deepens countries are depleting groundwater resources accumulated over thousands of years. In India alone the water table dropped by as much as 3m in 1999. As groundwater is exploited, water tables in parts of China, India, West Asia, the former Soviet Union and the western United States were already dropping by 2004 according to a special 2004 report (Kirby 2004-10-19).

2000-03 The Second World Water Forum in The Hague, The Netherlands “generated a lot of debate on the Water Vision for the Future and the associated Framework for Action, dealing with the state and ownership of water resources, their development potential, management and financing models, and their impact on poverty, social, cultural and economic development and the environment. The Ministerial Declaration identifed meeting basic water needs, securing food supply, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, managing risks, valuing water and governing water wisely as the key challenges for our direct future. 15,000 people were involved in the Vision related discussions; there were 5,700 participants in the Forum; there were 114 ministers and official of 130 countries at the Ministerial Conference; 500 journalists; 32,500 visitors at the World Water Fair.”

2000 “The UN-backed World Commission on Water estimated in 2000 that an additional $100bn a year would be needed to tackle water scarcity worldwide (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

2000-04 Water Sciences Branch, Water Management Division, Alberta Environmental Service Limnologist Anne-Marie Anderson reported that the lake levels of Muriel Lake (northeast of Edmonton and close to the hub of oil sands activity, including Imperial’s Cold Lake operation) were monitored since 1967. The lake reached its maximum in 1974, a very wet year but since then water levels declined steadily, a drop in lake level of nearly 3 m in 2000 from 6.6 m in 1962. As a result of the drop in lake levels, shoreline width has increased considerably. This amounts to perhaps a 50 to 60% loss in the volume of water. There are also concerns that the decline in water levels is resulting in a deterioration of lake water quality and fishing. (Anderson 2000-04). Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta’s Environmental Research and Studies Centre said his research at Muriel Lake suggested that the oil companies’ appetite for water was having a long-term effect. Although heavy rains in 1997 replenished many other lakes in the area, but the level of Muriel Lake is falling again. Mr. Donahue said the addition of chemicals to water used in oil recovery and the fact that much of the recycled water ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle (Simon 2002-08-09)..” “The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society was formed in 1999 in response to these severe losses of water. In 2002, Dr. Bill Donahue, with the support of Dr. Dave Schindler, the Gordon Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and ERSC, began a study to determine the local and regional water budgets. Drs. Bill Donahue and Alex Wolfe also began a study of the history of water quality, biology, and climate change in Muriel Lake.”

2000-03 Goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York.

2001 The International Freshwater Conference was held in Bonn.

2002 The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg.

2002-02-15 President Bush pledged to reduce “greenhouse gas intensity” by 18 % from 2002 to 2012. New York Times journalist Paul Krugman cautioned however that the algorithm to calculate “greenhouse gas intensity” divides “greenhouse gas intensity” by the gross national product GDP which by most forecasts will expand by 30% from 2002 to 2012. This proposal then will allow a substantial increase in (mainly carbon dioxide, released by burning fossil fuels) that cause global warming. Krugman argued that the Bush administration exaggerated the economic costs such as the destruction of millions of jobs if the Kyoto Protocol’s environmental regulations were implemented. In 2001 Dick Cheney claimed that environmental rules had caused a shortage of refining capacity.(Krugman 2002-02-15)

2002-08-09 Western Canada had its worst drought in decades and environmentalists, farming groups and others called for tighter control of the oil industry. New York Times Business journalist claimed that Alberta’s oil companies use nearly half as much water as the million people in Alberta’s commercial center, Calgary. [...] The energy industry makes up about a quarter of Alberta’s economy. Processes of extracting oil from conventional wells and from oil sands are water-intensive: c. 10 barrels of water are needed to extract one barrel of oil. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers claimed that about 55% of Alberta’s oil output, totaling 1.55m barrels a day, is now brought to the surface with the help of enhanced water-assisted methods. The water used in the oil sands “ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle(Simon 2002-08-09).

2002-11-27 Water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right. “The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights.” (UNESCO 2002-11-27).

2003-03 The 3rd World Water Forum held in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan “took the debate a step further also within the context of the new commitments of meeting the goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York (2000), the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn (2001) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002). The large number of participants ensured that a variety of stakeholders and opinions were represented aiming at accepting differences and finding a common way forward.” There were 24,000 participants, 1000 journalists and 130 ministers in attendance.

2004 A federal judge ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in violation of California law for not letting enough water flow which has resulted in the depletion of the historic Chinook salmon population on the San Joaquin River which it is claimed, once supported the southernmost salmon run in North America.

2004-10-19 BBC News Online environment correspondent, Alex Kirby, explored fears of an impending global water crisis. In 2004 1/3 of the world’s population were already living in water-stressed countries. By 2025, this is expected to rise to two-thirds. His report includes some potential solutions including new technologies that could clean up polluted waters and so making more water useable, more efficient agricultural water-use practices, drought-resistant plants, collecting rainfall, dams, desalinisation. Many of these solutions would require huge quantities of affordable, useable energy sources which also poses an enormous challenge. Kirby concluded, “We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth’s supply (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

2005-02-16 The Kyoto Protocol climate change conference leading up to the Kyoto Accord was first debated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, to “establish a legally binding international agreement, whereby all the participating nations commit themselves to tackling the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.” The objective was to stabilize and reconstruct “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto negotiations built upon the research of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. The agreement finally came into force on 16 February 2005 when following ratification by Russia ratified it on 18 November 2004. As of 14 January 2009, 183 countries and the European Community ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol include “commitments to reduce greenhouse gases that are legally binding; implementation to meet the Protocol objectives, to prepare policies and measures which reduce greenhouse gases; increasing absorption of these gases and use all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, clean development mechanism and emissions trading; being rewarded with credits which allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home; minimizing impacts on developing countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change; accounting, reporting and review to ensure the integrity of the Protocol; compliance by establishing a compliance committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.” wiki

2005-06-08 John Vidal, environment editor for the Guardian based on according to US State Department papers, claimed that pressure from ExxonMobil, the world’s most powerful oil company, and other industries, influenced President George Bush in his decision to not sign the Kyoto global warming treaty(Vidal 2005-06-08).

2005-06-09 BBC reported that Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, “which helps devise and promote the administration’s policies on environmental issues [...] removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists.” According to the New York Times Cooney “made dozens of changes to reports issued in 2002 and 2003, and many appeared in final versions of major administration climate reports.” Rick Piltz formerly from the office of co-ordinates U. S. government climate research resigned and reported the watered down reports to the New York Times. Philip Cooney, a lawyer by training has no scientific education. He was a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest oil industry trade group. He is a lawyer by training, with no scientific background. (BBC 2005-06-09).

2006-03-22 The 4th World Water Forum was held in Mexico City with seven days of debates and exchanges. Close to 20,000 people from throughout the world participated in 206 working sessions where a total of 1600 local actions were presented. Participants included official representatives and delegates from 140 countries out of which 120 mayors and 150 legislators, 1395 journalists experts, NGOs, companies, civil society representatives were involved. The Ministerial Conference brought together 78 Ministers.

2006-03 Uruguay, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries drafted a counter declaration at the 2006 World Water Forum when the official ministerial declaration did not include water as a human right (Karunananthan 2009-03-18).

2006-03 According to an article by (Coonan 2006-03-17, environmentalists viewed the 2006 completion of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River in China, the world’s biggest, as a monstrous natural catastrophe. Between one to two two million people were moved because their homes were flooded by the rising water of the reservoir. Environmental activist and journalist Dai Qing, the most famous opponent of Three Gorges dam, wrote a book entitled Yangtze! Yangtze!, for which she was imprisoned for 10 months in a maximum security prison and faced with the treat of the death sentence. She opposed the dam because of the lack of public debate, the lack of independent analysis. “Further along the river, construction of Xiloudu dam has begun, which will be the third biggest in the world when it is finished. Three other dams are in the exploration stage near Xiloudu – including one that will flood the beautiful Tiger Leaping Gorge in Sichuan province. All four of these dams together will produce more electricity than the Three Gorges dam (Coonan 2006-03-17.”

2000 Oscar Olivera’s article in The Guardian described how the water wars began in Cochabamba, Bolivia when Bechtel, a large multinational, came there with the intention of taking control of the water supply and privatizing it in 2000.Olivera 2006-07-19.”

2006-08-31 The Alberta provincial government under Premier Stelmach closed southern Alberta river basins to new water licences when they realized they had over-allocated water. Some growing municipalities with junior licences began the long and laborious process of negotiating transfers water licenses from willing irrigators and other senior licensees (Klaszus 2009-06-25).. “Alberta Environment announced the province will no longer accept new water licence applications for the Bow, Oldman, and South Saskatchewan sub-basins. Water allocations may still be obtained through water allocation transfers. The newly minted water management plan, the first of its kind in Alberta, will ban new demands from the three rivers, which are part of the South Saskatchewan River basin that feeds water to Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Brooks and Medicine Hat (Alberta Water).”

2006-2009 According to Alberta Environment about 30 water licence transfers have occurred between junior and senior licensees since 2006 when Premier Stelmach closed southern Alberta river basins to new water licences (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

2007 The Province of Alberta’s budget showed a surplus of $8.5 billion. Alberta is the economic engine of Canada but it is also the country’s worst industrial greenhouse gas emitter. Calgary-based EnCana alone earned profits of $6.4 billion, a record-breaking sum. An energy war is predicted between Eastern and Western Canada (Kohler 2007-10-08).

2007-10-08 Journalist Kohler reviewed William Marsden’s (2007) book entitled em>Stupid to the Last Drop in which outlined the environmental threats posed by Alberta’s energy industry, claiming that the [province of Alberta were] going to be the “architects of their own destruction.” “Left unfettered, Alberta’s energy sector will, by the end of this century, transform the southern part of the province into a desert and its north into a treeless, toxic swamp. Driven both by global warming and oil and gas developments, temperatures in Alberta will soar by as much as eight degrees. The Athabasca River will slow to a trickle, parching the remainder of the province’s forests and encouraging them to burst into flame, generating vast quantities of CO2. (Kohler 2007-10-08).”

2007 Despite comprising only a fraction of Canada’s households, the wealthiest families control almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by wealthy families is controlled by the decamillionaires. They are the ones with “family offices.” Tim Cestnick, of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel, set the threshold for High New Worth HNW as $5-million to $20-million in net worth and for Ultra High New Worth UHNW at $20-million-plus. Bederman classified households with $1-million to $5-million as “mass millionaires.” There were 335,000 such households in Canada in 2007. There were 60,000 “penta millionaires” (with net worths of $5-million to $10-million) and 20,000 decamillionaire households with more than $10-million in 2007. Despite comprising only a fraction of Canada’s households, the wealthiest families control almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by wealthy families is controlled by the decamillionaires. They are the ones with “family offices “Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14).

2007-10-03 Funded by a $30 million grant from the Government of Alberta through Alberta Ingenuity, (whose President and CEO is Dr. Peter Hackett) the Alberta Water Research Institute (chaired by Dr. Lorne Taylor, the former Minister of Alberta Environment) claim they will fund innovative, practical water research that will “tackle some of Alberta’s most pressing water-related environmental issues, including habitat decline, biodiversity loss, water flow and water quality. [T]he research will involve a multi-disciplinary approach — including biologists, engineers, economists and other social scientists — to provide the knowledge water users, managers, industry, policy makers and consumers to help them make informed choices. [T]he Alberta Water Research Institute works in collaboration with The Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI).” Their work focusses on Water Treatment and Recycling; Oilsands Tailings Treatment with water recycling; reducing water use in electrical power generation

2007-11-07 T. Boone Pickens engineered one of a shrewd takeover of an 8 acres stretch of scrub-land near Amarillo, Roberts County, Texas. The acquisition of this land was “central to Pickens’ plan to create an agency to condemn property and sell tax-exempt bonds in the search for one of his other favorite commodities: water. Approval of the water district was all but certain as Texans voted Tuesday in state and local elections. By law, only the two people who actually live on the eight acres will be allowed to vote: the manager of Pickens’ nearby Mesa Vista ranch and his wife. The other three owners, who will sit on the district’s board, all work for Pickens. Pickens “has pulled a shenanigan,” said Phillip Smith, a rancher who serves on a local water-conservation board. “He’s obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.” Pickens and his allies say no shenanigans are involved. Once the district is created, the board will be able to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Pickens’ planned 328-mile, $2.2 billion pipeline to transport water from the Panhandle across the prairie to the suburbs of Dallas and San Antonio. If Pickens can’t find a buyer for the bonds or for his water – and he hasn’t yet – he might buy the bonds himself to jump-start the project, said his Dallas-based lawyer, Monty Humble of Vinson and Elkins. The board will spend about $110 million to buy the right-of-way for the pipeline, using the power of eminent domain to acquire property if necessary, Humble said. Still, Pickens faces obstacles. To help pay for construction, he plans to piggyback wind power on the water infrastructure. He plans wind farms on the ranchland and wants to run electricity cables along the right-of-way of Mesa’s water pipeline. All told, the wind and water project is expected to cost more than $10 billion. Pickens said he has about $100 million invested so far. “This is a $10 billion project,” he said in an interview. “It better be profitable.” Most of all, he needs a group of confirmed buyers for his water. That’s in part because of political resistance to his plan for acquiring water rights. Several Dallas-area water districts have refused to sign up. “We have real concerns about private control of water,” said Ken Kramer, director of the Texas Sierra Club. “Water is a resource, yet in some respects it is a commodity. It’s as essential to human life as air. That puts water in a different class.” John Spearman Jr., a Roberts County rancher and chairman of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, is one of many local critics who contend that Pickens’ water play could upset conservation efforts and seeks to profit from shortages of a vital resource. “He has the legal authority to do it,” Spearman says. “We can’t stop him (Woellert 2007-11-07.”

2008-06-12 In 2008 he introduced “The Pickens Plan, [which called] for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third by making natural gas and wind power much bigger parts of America’s energy supply.” (CBC 2009-06-17.) “T. Boone Pickens [...] owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already has, some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” Business Week

2008-05-08 The U.S. Senate committee gave its approval to restore a 240 km stretch of the dried-up San Joaquin River and the historic Chinook salmon run spawning area. The settlement agreement, supported by almost every member of the California congressional delegation, anticipated spending as much as $800 million U.S. with farmers paying c. $330 million, and the rest from California bonds and the federal government.

2008-06 T. Boone Pickens a Texas oil tycoon, who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets and he is now showing a great interest in Alberta. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their water supply. He is persistent and worked for decades to change laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas. Pickens donated $2.25 million in 2006 to establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, which was created by Pickens’ long-time friend Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss with a gift of $15 million in 2004. In June 2008 Pickens donated another $25 million to research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which is the largest donation ever given to the University of Calgary by a single person and the only philanthropic donation Pickens has made outside the U.S. Pickens, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has given away $700 million from 2003 to 2008. Pickens lived in Calgary briefly in the 1960s working as a geologist ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

2008-09-26 Molina and Chowla argued that the World Bank has been a principal financier of privatisation and has increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“). The initial hopes for privatisation have faded as governments work towards de-privatization of water services (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

2009-03-18The Council of Canadians, Our Water Commons, Food and Water Watch and other organizations held a panel at the official World Water Forum to launch a report highlighting success stories of communities working to protect the water commons through a communitarian approach to water management and calling for the recognition of water as a human right.Karunananthan 2009-03-18. .”

2009-03-16 to 2009-03-22 The world’s biggest water-related event, with over 25,000 participants, the Fifth World Water Forum was held in Istanbul, Turkey on the theme of “Bridging Divides for Water.”

2009-06 Jim Webber, general manager of the Western Irrigation District wants the province to respect the first-in-time, first-in-right licensing system to prevent an economic disaster for the 400+ farms east of Calgary and a handful of communities, including Strathmore (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

2009-03-29 The United States Congress appropriated $88 million to help fund the restoring of salmon spawning grounds as part of a bill providing wilderness protection to more than 2 millions acres in nine states.

2009-06-29 In California the debate has become increasingly polarized between agriculture and environmental interests over the distribution of water in the face of a three year drought that has left 450,000 acres unplanted in California as well as causing the third collapse of the salmon industry as the San Joaquin River spawning grounds dried up. (In 2004 a federal judge ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in violation of California law for not letting enough water flow which has resulted in the depletion of the historic Chinook salmon population on the San Joaquin River which it is claimed, once supported the southernmost salmon run in North America. ) In Fresno County alone, normally the US most important agriculture county, farmers cannot plant in 262,000 acres because of a lack of water.Cone 2009-06-29).

CBC. 2009-06-17. “Texas oil billionaire eyes Alberta wind power.”

Notes

1. March 22nd is World Water Day

2. Since moving to Calgary, Alberta we have been following our source of city water. The Bow Glacier was stunningly beautiful last August. But like glaciers worldwide it is receding. The Elbow River which also flows through Calgary was very high this year even though much of Alberta’s farmland was experiencing a devastating drought. We’ve installed rainbarrels, planted drought-resistance perennials, overseeded our water-thirsty Kentucky grass with Sheep’s Fescue and generally tried to be more water wise, I am following water stories. Alberta has four major rivers tha drain most of the province: 1. The Peace and 2. Athabaska rivers drain the northern half of Alberta with their waters joining water from Lake Athabaska to form Alberta’s largest river, the Slave River, which flows into the Northwest Territories and on to the Arctic Ocean; 3. The North Saskatchewan River winds through the foothills and parkland of central Alberta. 4. The South Saskatchewan River, which is fed by three rivers that arise in the mountains, makes it way through dry farmland and prairie. The North and South Saskatchewan rivers join in the province of Saskatchewan and become the Nelson-Churchill system, and their waters eventually reach Hudson Bay There is also the smaller Beaver River, which flows through the heart of the Lakeland Region and then into the Churchill system and the Milk River, which passes briefly into Alberta
from Montana before returning south to flow finally to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:3) For a detailed map and more information visit Alberta Water

2. Moore Lake, c. 280 km northeast of Edmonton is a very popular recreational lake in Alberta’s Lakeland Region. Moore Lake is part of the Beaver Lake watershed. It is a headwater lake with outlets from the east shore into Hilda and Ethel Lakes and eventually into the Beaver River (which flows through the heart of the Lakeland Region and then into the Churchill system and the Milk River, which passes briefly into Alberta from Montana before returning south to flow finally to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).” “Moore Lake is underlain by the Muriel Lake Aquifer. In [1990] the principal water sources for regional water needs were the aquifers and not the lake. The largest water users in the area [were] the oil sands industries. Oil sands and petroleum and natural gas leases in the Moore drainage basin are held by several companies, including Esso Resources and Husky Oil. The oil sands permits allow the companies to test and set up drilling operations for subsurface oil deposits, including those under the lake surface. There are no signficant gas pools in the area. As a result of Alberta Environmental studies of the water resources in the Cold Lake-Beaver River basin in the early 1980s, a long-term plan for water resources management in the Cold Lake region was adopted by the government in 1985. Under the provisions of this plan, Moore Lake will not become a major water supply for the oil industry. Major industrial water users will be required to obtain their water from a pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).”

3. History of Moore Lake and the Beaver River. “Woodland Cree occupied the region when the fur traders first arrived. The Beaver River, to the south of Moore Lake, was part of a major fur trade route from Lac Isle-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan to the Athabaska River. The first fur-trading post in the area was Cold Lake House. It was established by the North West Company in 1781 on the Beaver River near the present-day hamlet of Beaver Crossing (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:273).”.” “Moore Lake is underlain by the Muriel Lake Aquifer. In [1990] the principal water sources for regional water needs were the aquifers and not the lake. The largest water users in the area [were] the oil sands industries. Oil sands and petroleum and natural gas leases in the Moore drainage basin are held by several companies, including Esso Resources and Husky Oil. The oil sands permits allow the companies to test and set up drilling operations for subsurface oil deposits, including those under the lake surface. There are no signficant gas pools in the area. As a result of Alberta Environmental studies of the water resources in the Cold Lake-Beaver River basin in the early 1980s, a long-term plan for water resources management in the Cold Lake region was adopted by the government in 1985. Under the provisions of this plan, Moore Lake will not become a major water supply for the oil industry. Major industrial water users will be required to obtain their water from a pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).”

4. For amusement I am also reading an entertaining science fiction called Watermind that begins with a foaming journey of nano technology from Alberta down the Milk River flowing down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico collecting toxic waste and data all along the way.

5. Western-style lifestyles and diets which are heavy on beef require much more water than healthier cereal or pulse-based diets (1 kg of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic metres of water, while a 1 kg of cereals needs only up to three cubic metres). Pulse crops (including Dry beans, Kidney bean, haricot bean, pinto bean, navy bean, Lima bean, butter bean, Azuki bean, adzuki bean, Mung bean, golden gram, green gram, Black gram, Urad, Scarlet runner bean, Dry peas, Garden pea, Chickpea, Garbanzo, Bengal gram Black-eyed pea, blackeye bean, Lentil) commonly consumed with grain, provide a complete protein diet. Pulses are 20 to 25% protein by weight, which is double the protein content of wheat and three times that of rice. Pulses are sometimes called “poor man’s meat”. Pulses are the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people. In the Seven Countries Study legume consumption was highly correlated with a reduced mortality from coronary heart disease.

6. This Google Map below (a work in progress) traces some of the areas of concern regarding our watersheds where substantial control concentration of access, rights and strategic assets are quietly being acquired by individuals or individual families. The most troubling of these includes T. Boone Pickens who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets and he is now showing a great interest in Alberta. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their water supply. He is persistent and worked for decades to change laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas.

7. Tim Cestnick, founder of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel, in 2007 set the threshold for High Net Worth HNW as $5-million to $20-million in net worth and for Ultra High Net Worth UHNW at $20-million-plus.

My Google Map: Blue Gold

Selected Bibliography

Anderson, Anne-Marie. 2000-04. “An Evaluation of Changes in Water Quality of Muriel Lake.” Limnologist, Water Sciences Branch, Water Management Division, Environmental Service.

Beck, Ulrich. 1992. Risk Society.

Barlow, Maud; Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

Barlow, Maud. 2004-03. Maude Barlow, CBC Interview. CBC.

CBC. 2008-06-20. “Billionaire hands U of C unexpected $25M gift.”

Brownsey, Keith. “Enough for Everyone: Policy Fragmentation and Water Institutions in Alberta” in Sproule-Jones, Mark; Johns, Carolyn; Heinmiller, B. Timothy. 2008-11-20. Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions. McGill-Queen’s University Press. pp. 133-156.

CBC. 2009-06-17. “Texas oil billionaire eyes Alberta wind power.”

CBC. 2009-03-06. “Wind power: The global race to harness wind.”

Clarke, Tony; Barlow, Maude. The Battle for Water.

Cone, Tracie. AP. 2009-06-29. “Battle over water heats up in drought-stricken California.” USA Today.

Coonan, Clifford. 2006-03-17. “The dammed: Environmentalists watch and wait for opening of world’s largest dam.” The Independant.”

Dillon, Sam. 1998-01-28. “Mexico City sinking into depleted aquifer.”

Government of Ontario. 1998-03-09. “Government’s role in operation of water and sewage treatment systems to be reviewed.” Office of Privatization News Release. Toronto: Queen’s Park.

Helsinki Rules on the uses of the Waters of International Rivers. 1966-08. Adopted by the International Law Association at the 52nd conference, held at Helsinki. Report of the Committee on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. London: International Law Association (1967).

Idelovitch, Emanuel, and Ringskog, Klas. 1995-05. Private Sector Participation in Water Supply and Sanitation in Latin America. Washington: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

Kirby, Alex. 2004-10-19. “Water scarcity: A looming crisis?” BBC.

Klaszus, Jeremy. 2009-06-25.“Alberta poised to expand water market: Showdown looms as province reviews licensing system.” News.

Karunananthan, Meera. 2009-03-18. “Access to Sanitation Reserved for the VIPs at World Water Forum.” AlterNet.

Kohler, Nicholas. 2007-10-08. “Doomsday: Alberta stands accused: A huge fight between East and West — over the oil sands — is just starting.” Macleans.

Krugman, Paul. 2002-02-15. “Ersatz Climate Policy“. New York Times.

Marsden, William. 2007. Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care).

McGillivray, Mark. 2005. Inequality, Poverty and Well-being. Helsinki, Finland. Palgrave Macmillan.

McLaughlin, Chris. 2009. “Instituting Change: Book Reviews.” Alternatives Journal. 35:34: 31.

Mitchell, Patricia ; Prepas, Ellie E.; Crosby, Jan M. Eds. 1990. Atlas of Alberta Lakes. University of Alberta Press.

Molina, Nuria; Chowla, Peter. 2008-09-26. “The World Bank and water privatisation: public money down the drain.”

Olivera, Oscar. 2006-07-19. “The voice of the people can dilute corporate power.” The Guardian.

Orwin, Alexander. 1999-08. “The Privatization of Water and Wastewater Utilities: An International Survey.” Environment Probe.

Postel, S. L. 1996. “Dividing the waters: food security, ecosystem health, and the new policies of scarcity.” Worldwatch Paper No. 132, P29. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute.

Postel, S. L. 1998. “Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?” Biosciences. 28:629–637.

Sen, A. 1995. “Mortality as an indicator of economic success and failure.” Discussion paper 66. London School of Economics and Political Science.

Simon, Bernard. 2002-08-09. “Alberta Struggles to Balance Water Needs and Oil.New York Times.

Sproule-Jones, Mark; Johns, Carolyn; Heinmiller, B. Timothy. 2008-11-20. Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Sullivan, Caroline. 2002. (“Calculating a Water Poverty Index.”World Development. 30:7: 1195–1210.

Vidal, John. 2005-06-08. “Revealed – how oil giant influenced Bush“. The Guardian.

The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.”Our Common Future.” Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Woellert, Lorraine. 2007-11-07. “Pickens makes a multibillion-dollar water play: Pipeline would transport Panhandle water to big-city suburbs.” Bloomberg News.

Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14. “Truly Affluent Require Wider Type of Service.” Financial Post.


“Keep alive in your hearts
the feeling of confidence
that the light of knowledge
will inevitably dispel
the clouds of ignorance,
the conviction
that concern for justice
will ultimately conquer
hatred and enmity.
[... The] proper response to oppression
is neither to succumb in resignation
nor to take on the characteristics of the oppressor.
The victim of oppression
can transcend it
through an inner strength
that shields the soul
from bitterness and hatred
which sustains
consistent principled action.” UHJ 2009

There is such a contrast between the use of the term “principled action” when used here for healing the human spirit and the way it is used in writings referring to doing ethics, applied ethics, ethics talk. Is it about words or deeds?

“Keep alive in your hearts” calls to all of us to sustain consistent principled action freed from bitterness and hatred even when oppressed, refuse to resign to victimization,  be careful not to respond to oppression by taking on the characteristics of the oppressor, struggle to continue to believe that knowledge will overcome ignorance, that justice will conquer injustice, nurture and maintain  inner strength that will sustain us through the most ethically distressing dilemmas of our lives, nurture confidence when you feel doubt, seek knowledge instead of vengeance. This far transcends concepts of ethical codes and minimal ethical standards.

“Some people confuse acting in good conscience with “doing ethics”. While personal good conscience is necessary for acting ethically, it is not sufficient.  There is also confusion of so-called “codes of ethics’ which are really codes of professional etiquette – for instance, between physicians or between lawyers – or which define unprofessional conduct, with codes of ethics properly so-called. Just because certain conduct does not breach professional norms, does not necessarily mean that it is ethical [...] “Doing ethics”, especially by an ethicist, requires one to undertake an informed structured analysis that will assist in the identification and prioritisation of the full range of values relevant to, or affected by, the various decision options that are open in any given situation. It is inevitable that one’s own values come into play, but they should be identified as such and the other people involved advised of this. I sometimes imagine that “doing ethics” can be compared with opening a beautiful, intricately painted fan. The struts are the different schools of ethics, or the fundamental bases of the alternative analyses that could be used. The fabric that joins the struts may display one or several scenes. When we all agree on the outcome, although we do so for different reasons, we are choosing a different location in the one scene. When we disagree on the outcome, we are identifying several scenes and arguing that one scene is fundamental and should take priority in setting the overall tone or interpretation of the painting that the artist has portrayed on the fan, and that the other scenes must be interpreted in light of this. We all need to learn how to do ethics, even if we do not always succeed in doing this. “Doing ethics” is not a simple task; it is a process, not an event; and, in many ways, no matter in which capacity or context we do ethics, it is a life-long learning experience. The most important requirement, however, is that we all engage in that process, that is, we all participate in “ethics talk” (Somerville 2006).



Headlines in the New York Times, BBC and CBC News announce a crisis of confidence in the banking sector as an unintended consequence of the subprime mortgage meltdown. We are now experiencing the predicted disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds (Scott 2007) (such as the infamous collapse of two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market). Borrowers defaulting on mortgages continues to increase. In 2007 Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market [. . .] Those hedge fund investment managers create investments that are bought by our pension funds and mutual funds. Charitable foundations are invested in these. It’s a broad investor base, and it’s not the rich versus the poor.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007). See Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn and Mortgage Meltdowns

Paul Desmarais, Jr., Chairman of Power Corporation of Canada warned of the structural impact on the industrialized world caused by the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds in the financial markets in a an article (2007) published in the Canadian Council of Chief Executives journal National and Global Perspectives. The current crisis in confidence in the banking sector is a direct result of the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds which transformed the mortgage market.

Is it not ironic that the principal investors in private equity and hedge funds – large institutional investors – are happy to put massive amounts of money in the hands of people who do not register with any securities commission, or have few, if any, governance regulations to adhere to and report on? (Desmarais 2007:16).

As well Mason and Rosner (2007) warned that risk continued to increase, as ratings agencies revised their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007].” [T]hey caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. This [. . .] could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructuring and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

Timeline of events related to the Subprime Market

1965-2005 Between 1965 to 2005 there was no national US real-estate bust as home prices surpassed inflation by a percentage point or two on average. However local reversals have taken place and some cities have never recovered (Christie 2005).

1970s “The additional grades or risk have arisen from the willingness to underwrite mortgages for more risky borrowers, encouraged by the democratization of credit since the 1970s. Lending to more risky borrowers is, by definition, more risky. More loans to risky borrowers increases the total amount of risk to be sold in the marketplace” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

1973-5 US investors in the S&P 500 lost 14% in 1973 and 26% in 1974 but gained 37% in 1975 (Mann 2000).

1975 Foreign competition made its inroads into the North American economy. Corporations panicked with a knee-jerk reaction by implementing the first major layoffs which eventually spread and multiplied, in time destroying the notion of job security and the dignity of work in North America (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1983 Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 index experienced a long losing streak which would be unparalled until 2008-01-21 (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

1985 In Peoria, Ill. a more traditional area the average home price fell from $60,800 in 1981 to $51,400 in 1985 partially because of strikes and lay-offs at Caterpillar, the city’s biggest employer (Christie 2005).

1986 The “total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average(Leary 1998:265).”

1987 Canadian families saved 20 percent of their take-home pay (Ed 2007).

1987 Oliver Stone’s and Stanley Weiser’s fascinating but soulless film entitled Wall Street about a young stockbroker, Bud Fox’s entanglement in white-collar crime through his mentor and hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an extremely successful businessman and Wall Street broker. in a speech by Gekko to a Teldar Paper shareholders’ meeting, a company he planning to take over, Gekko, and by extension, the Wall Street raiders he personifies, justifies his actions. He argues that he is liberating corporate America’s from its slothfulness and waste accumulated through the postwar years. He argued, “Greed is good” a slogan which symbolised the ruthless, profit-obsessed, short-term corporate culture of the 1980s and 1990s. These values became associated with neoclassical, anti-union economic policies that made slash-and-burn capitalism possible. Wall Street refers to the symbolic and geographical location in Lower Manhattan, the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, center of New York’s financial district and the financial industry.

1987 Stock market crash

1987-19-20 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 10.8% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-20 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 12.2% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-21 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 7.9% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-22 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 5.7% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-26 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 6.2% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1988 In “oil patch” cities like Oklahoma City prices plummeted 26 percent from 1983 to 1988. They only returned to 1983 levels in 2003 fifteen years later. In Oklahoma City, the inflation-adjusted price in 1983 was $196,600. Today, it’s just $135,100 (Christie 2005).

1988 Houston home prices fell 22 percent from $111,000 in 1983 to $86,800 in 1988 rebounded only in 2003. Counting inflation, the average Houston home, which cost just $159,700 in 2004, is actually worth less [in 2005] than it was [in 1983]. When, adjusted for inflation, a home cost about $219,000 in 1983 (Christie 2005).

1988 – 1990s Real estate prices fell in Northern California first followed by the rest of the state “as employers fled, incomes dwindled, quakes rumbled, sales fell and prices slipped. [. . .] Silicon Valley’s housing market crashed into recession along with the state’s economy (Perkins 2001).

1980-1990 In Los Angeles real estate was turbocharged for nearly 10 years (Christie 2005).

1989-90 The notorious price bubble of 1989-90 was linked to central banks specifically the Bank of Japan. “The Japanese economy continued to suffer during the early 1990s, and remained in recession until the end of 1993. Nominal GDP growth rates, which had been around 7 percent during the bubble period, fell beginning in 1990 and by 1991-93 were close to zero. Profits in the manufacturing sector fell 24.5 percent in 1991 and 32.1 percent in 1992. Bankruptcies began to rise starting in the latter half of 1990; by 1992, bankruptcies with debt more than Y10 million totaled 14,569 cases. Failures of real estate firms or of firms engaged in “active fund management” constituted more than half the corporate bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992 (Miller 2001).”

1991 Inflation-adjusted take-home pay in Canada froze to this level (Ed. 2007).”

1992 A new car in Canada cost $20, 000.

1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

1992-04-10 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.6% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1996 There was a housing market reversal in Los Angeles with average house price dropping from $222,200 in 1990 to $176,300 in 1996, a loss of 20.7 percent. “Furthermore, those are nominal prices, not real values. To calculate the loss more realistically you would have to figure in the cost of inflation: $222,200 in 1990 would have been worth $266,700 in 1996 dollars, which means the actual loss for homeowners buying in 1990 and selling in 1996 was closer to 34 percent (Christie 2005).”

1994- 1996 “In 1994, [Japanese] banks wrote off non-performing assets of Y5.7 trillion, exceeding the previous high of Y4.3 trillion in fiscal year 1993. As yet, no major bank has failed, although a number have reportedly encountered serious difficulties. In December, 1994, the Bank of Japan supervised the takeover of two credit cooperatives, the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Cooperative and the Anzen Credit Cooperative, through the creation of a bridge bank with government support. The Bank’s decision not to let these institutions fail and pay off depositors under the deposit guarantee program was based, largely, on concern for the potential systemic effects of a deposit payoff on public confidence in the banking system in general. The “jusen,” or housing finance banks, suffered the most serious problems; these institutions, which were typically organized and sponsored by major commercial banks and staffed, in part, by former officials from the Ministry of Finance, lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of the price bubble, and became one of the most contentious political issues of the day during 1995-86 (Miller 2001)”.

1996-12-05 “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability. Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy.” Alan Greenspan (December 5, 1996)**

1998 There was a market correction in the United States in October of 1998.

2000 In Tampa Bay Florida, high risk adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) made homes “seem affordable when wages stagnated as prices soared. They were just the ticket for cash-out refinancings and home equity credit lines that bought cars and swimming pools and paid off credit card debt. “What happened in a lot of expensive real estate markets is that first-time home buyers who felt they could not afford a home otherwise, took on a loan that had lower monthly payments than a traditional mortgage would have,” said Allen Fishbein, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. “They weren’t being underwritten on the basis of the borrower’s reasonable capacity to handle these loans.” The payments started out manageable, especially since many loans offered teaser rates. But borrowers are getting a lesson in what the word “adjustable” means. More than $130-billion in mortgages payments were reset in 2006″ In 2006 nearly a third of Tampa Bay mortgages were the high-risk varieties, up from 10 percent in 2003 (Huntley 2006).1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

2001-09-11 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 5.7% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2002-10-15 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.1% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2002-07-02 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.0% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2003-03-13 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 6.1% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2004 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $20, 000.

2005 Real-estate investing spiked, pressuring prices upward. In Phoenix, according to Bill Jilbert, president and COO of the Coldwell Banker brokerage there, investors from Nevada and California have invaded the Arizona market, and “affordable housing has been pushed to extremes (Christie 2005).”

2005 Market analyst Winzer (2005 cited in Christie 2005) warned that the housing market was high-risk as the boom has already gone on longer than expected. Low interest rates which means cheap mortgage rates extended the cycle of the real estate boom artificially creating higher demand and higher prices as all market levels (Winzer cited in Christie 2005). “Winzer assesses local market risk by taking into account economic and population growth, construction costs, vacancy rates, and, especially, income. He also considers such factors as density and access to open land. Prices in densely settled New York have always been higher than those of cities with lots of space for new housing (Christie 2005).

1991- 2005 “[I]ncreased complexity from increased grading of risk can also result in increased opacity. Risk that is more difficult to see, by virtue of complexity, is risk just the same. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the amount of risk in the marketplace has increased. Figure 3 shows that defaults on ABS and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) increased substantially between 1991 and 2005″ (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2006-06-12. “Canadian Executives Indicate Human Resources and Rising Canadian Dollar are the Major Business Challenges.” CTV. June 12, 2006.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/show/CTVShows/20060611/ctv_release_20060611/20060612

2006 Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study revealed that, “the overwhelming majority of global structured finance defaults over the 1991-2005 period were from the U.S., accounting for more than 97 percent of the total. While the 1,000 U.S. defaults were mainly concentrated in the Asset-Backed Securities._ (ABS) sector, the 27 international defaults were primarily from the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) sector.” See Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1.

2006 In Florida millions of homeowners were warned of the mortgage meltdown in which they will “face a financial nightmare brought on by a combination of higher interest rates, risky mortgages and a housing market gone cold (Huntley 2006).

2007-05-10 Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007. “Private equity, public interest.” National and Global Perspectives . May 10, 2007. p. 16.

2007-05-10 Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007a. “Chairman’s Address to Shareholders.” Power Corporation of Canada. May 10, 2007.

2007-06-14 Gandalf Group. 2007. “C-Suite Survey On The Role of Private Equity.” Report on Business. Globe and Mail. June 14, 2007. http://www.dwpv.com/images/C-Suite_June_2007.pdf In May and June, 2007 the 150 C-Suite executives from the top 1000 corporations interviewed by the Gandalf Group were generally optimistic about the Canadian economy (Gandalf Group 2007:4). Some expressed concerns about the increasing levels of foreign ownership in key sectors and about private equity firms hollowing out corporate Canada. 23% have concerns that private equity firms engage in too much short-term thinking (Gandalf Group 2007:32). Most executives now favour restrictions in strategic industries. “The strongest areas of consensus about the negative impacts of private equity relate to keeping the company Canadian owned and about the debt burden of the company. A substantial percentage of executives believe that private equity also has a negative impact on the economic contribution the company will make to Canada and to the community it operates in, on the labour relations of the company and on the governance of the company (Gandalf Group 2007:28).”

2007. “C-Suite Survey.” Globe and Mail, Report on Business. 18 June 2007: B5.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/video/vs?id=RTGAM.20070619.wvcsuite0619&ids=RTGAM.20070619.wvcsuite0619&hub=search

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007].” [T]hey caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. This [. . .] could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructuring and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007-06-27 “In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June, 2007 two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market [. . .] Those hedge fund investment managers create investments that are bought by our pension funds and mutual funds. Charitable foundations are invested in these. It’s a broad investor base, and it’s not the rich versus the poor.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).” See Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn and Mortgage Meltdowns

2007-09-06 The U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown “Only 5% of mortgages in Canada are subprime compared to 20% in the US. And Canadian financial institutions are more prudent than their American counterparts insisting on mortgage insurance when appropriate and separate appraisals of a home’s purchase price to ensure they are not financing more than 100 per cent of a home’s value. In the US by late 2006 subprime lenders were going bankrupt and as many as 1.5 million Americans could lose their homes before the panic is over. In this under-regulated US industry, lenders partnered with hedge funds to make quick returns on investments then called in debts to avoid losses. Since we are all in some way linked to these investment portfolios, either through mortgages, pensions or insurance, we end up contributing to processes that are fuelled by high-risk, short-term, fast-profits thinking that enriches a few while causing havoc for most of us. See also http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/personalfinance/mortgage-meltdown.html

2007-11-27Staggering poverty report has province listening: A United Way report Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City claims almost 93,000 Toronto, Canada households are raising children in poverty. That’s 30% compared with 16 per cent in 1990.” OECD, Policy Development, Public Policy, child poverty, del.icio.us, digg story, digg.com, economic efficiency model, how to be poor in a rich country, policy research, social exclusion, vulnerability to social exclusion

2007 Since 1991 inflation-adjusted hourly wages rose only 10 cents (Ed. 2007).”

2007 A new car in Canada cost $32,000 a 60 percent increase from 1992 (Ed. 2007).”

2007 Canadians collectively owe three quarters of a trillion dollars in personal debt. Canadian families not only have no savings, they draw on pension savings to make ends meet.

“The result of the easy credit is that an average family now owes far more than it takes in. That means we remain solvent only so long as the book value of our assets — things like our home, pension funds or investments — continue to increase (Ed. 2007).”

2007 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $27, 000.

2007 It is now acceptable for Canadian families to pay 60 percent of income to pay monthly payments of their home mortgages (Ed. 2007).

2007 The British Columbia government will allow home owners who are over 55 to defer property tax payments for as long as they live. The government will claim unpaid taxes after you die or sell effectively placing the tax burden on the children (Ed. 2007).

2007 “The number of corporate failures in Japan rose for the third month in a row totaling 896 cases in December up 18.2%. November flops were up 6.5% and the number of companies going belly up in October were up 7.8%. The amount of debts the insolvent companies left behind were up 30.6% to 463.09 billion yen (Belew 2007).

2007 In March Bob Lawless reported in his blog that, “The folks at Automated Access to Court Electronic Records or AACER regularly collect data from all the bankruptcy courts for creditors and attorneys. They have a wealth of information that does not show up in the mainstream media. Most recently, they tell me that there were 58,640 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in February 2007 as compared to 55,088 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in January 2007. OK, that looks like a slight increase, but looks are deceiving. It’s actually a fairly hefty increase. The February filings were spread over only nineteen business days while the January filings were spread over twenty-one days. On a daily basis, the February filings were up 17.7% as compared to January (Lawless 2007).”
2007 Jayson Seth analysed data in National Association of Realtors (NAR) June 24, 2007 report. Seth argues that “America’s easy-credit, quick-flipping, borrow-now-and-forget-the-consequences lifestyle is coming to an increasingly painful, grinding halt” and the “confidence of homebuilders is at a 16-year low (Seth 2007).”

2007 Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors announced that the real estate market is softening due to psychological factors, tighter credit for subprime borrowers. NAR’s Lawrence Yun explained that since late 2006 housing sales have slowed as buyers double up with family, friends or just mortgage helper units in their homes to be able to pay for higher-priced homes.

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007]” Furthermore they caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex RMBS and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. Equally as important, however, is that housing market weaknesses feed back through financial markets to further weaken financial instruments backing today’s CDOs. Decreased housing starts that will result from lower liquidity in the MBS sector will further weaken credit spreads and depress CDO and MBS issuance. This feedback mechanism can create imbalances in the U.S. economy that, if left unchecked, could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructurings and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007 In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).

2008-01-12 Should banks avoid investing in carbon-intensive projects? “Ceres is composed of and works with investors ($4 trillion) and environmental groups to address sustainability challenges. In their report Corporate Governance and Climate Change (2008) they argue that the banking sector needs to become aligned with GHG reductions.” read more | digg story

2007-01-20Globalization and the Rise of Inequality: The extremes of wealth and poverty threaten globalisation. North American companies lose jobs to the Chinese Special Economic Zone (SEZ) where factories often employ rural women to work in 19th century conditions to keep their costs low. Meanwhile the total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average. Globalization “refers to the current transformation of the world economy the reduction of national barriers to trade and investment, the expansion of telecommunications and information systems, the growth of off-shore financial markets, the increasing role of multinational enterprises, the explosion of mergers and acquisitions, global inter-firm networking arrangements and alliances, regional economic integration and the development of a single unified global market. The phenomenon of globalization is accompanied by increasing international mobility, the migration of workers, the growth of tourism and the increasing ease of international travel (Leary 1998:265).”

2008-01-19 The Bush administration announce they are seeking “a stimulus package of as much as $145 billion”. However the stock market did not respond positively as investors were concerned that the looming American recession would trigger economic crisis that will span the globe. See (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).

2008-01-21 “Global stock markets have tumbled, with European indexes set for some of their biggest losses in recent years, amid growing fears of a recession in the US (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-20 “Global stock markets plunged on Monday as fears spread that the turmoil in United States mortgage markets is spreading. Indexes in Europe fell as much as 7 percent after a huge sell-off in Asia. “There’s something approaching panic in the market,” Holger Schmieding, the chief European economist at Bank of America in London, said by telephone. “There’s been a reassessment in the market of the U.S. economic outlook, with most people now thinking that there will be a recession,” and investors are starting to reconsider the idea that the rest of the world “will remain aloof from U.S. problems [. . .] The selling began in Sydney, with Australian stocks falling nearly 3 percent for an 11th consecutive decline. Major markets in Asia followed suit, with the benchmark Nikkei 225-stock average in Tokyo falling 3.9 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong falling 5.5 percent and the benchmark mainland Chinese index falling more than 5 percent (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 London’s FTSE 100 index fell 4.5% to 5,637.3 (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2008-01-21 Hugues Rialan of Robeco France says we are in a panic mode and a crisis in consumer confidence as the banking sector’s reassurances that they were not overexposed to US mortgage-related investments, prove to ring hollow and false. The banking sector lost consumer trust when they lost of “billions of pounds on investments linked to the US housing and mortgage markets (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 “Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 index closed down 2.9%, or 166.9, points at 5,580.4″, amid growing fears of a recession in the US. This is ASX 200 index’s “lowest level for a year. It was also the 11th consecutive negative day for the index, the longest losing streak in more than 25 years (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 “There may be more downturns in store for Asia, particularly as banks report the fallout from their investments in the United States mortgage market. Companies “have not announced their year-end numbers yet,” Schuller, of Moody’s, said, and if they are holding subprime assets, they may need to write-off their value, she said. “They are going to be taking these 25 to 30 percent haircuts we’re seeing on Wall Street,” she said. “I think it is going to shock people.” [This article which appeared in the New York Times was written by David Jolly reporting from Paris and Heather Timmons from New Delhi. Tim Johnston contributed reporting from Sydney, and Martin Foster from Tokyo (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).”

2009-01-21 Analyst Mike Lenhoff at Brewin Dolphin Securities predicts that the prospect of falling US interest rates announced by the US administration will have a positive effect on the market by January 2009 and the crisis mode of January 2008 and the drop in global indexes based on fears of a US recession will be proven to be a panicked knee-jerk reaction (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

Bibliography and Webliography

BBC. 2008-01-21. “Global shares tumble on US fears.” BBC News on-line. Uploaded 2008/01/21 16:10:48 GMT. Accessed 2008-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/7199552.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7199552.stm

CBC News. 2008. “TSX plunges 500 points.” Last Updated: 2008-01-21:13:26 ET.

Jolly, David; Timmons, Heather. 2008-01-21. “Stocks Plunge in Europe and Asia on U.S. Recession Fear.” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/business/22stox-web.html?_r=1&ei=5088&en=f84e22b0fa01257e&ex=1358658000&oref=slogin&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Selected Bibliography and Webliography: Leary, Virginia A. 1998. “Globalization and Human Rights.” In Symonides, Janusz (Ed.) Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges: Manual on Human Rights. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd. / UNESCO Publishing. pp. 265-276. 2007. “Rich man, poor man.” The Economist. Jan 18th 2007. Accessed January 18, 2007

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Risk Society: Unintended Consequences of Subprime Market.” >> Google docs. January 21. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_505grfcrtgj


Joseph E. Stiglitz’ major international bestseller (2002) entitled Globalization and its Discontents is an indictment against policies of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and World Bank that unintentionally but relentlessly increased vulnerabilities of the poorest groups and nation-states to the advantage of an unfettered market. In his 2003 publication entitled The Roaring Nineties: a New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade Stiglitz forcefully argues for a more balanced relationship between State and the Market by elaborating on outcomes and unintended consequences of the free market (neoliberal, market liberal) ideologies that shaped US Presidents Reagan and Bush I administrations national economic policies from c.1980-1992. He reveals the deceptions, distortions and disasters caused by the idealization of the private sector and demonization of government programs and regulations that Stiglitz claims led to the boom and bust of the 1990s. Stiglitz holds a Nobel laureate in Economics (2001), was member then Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (1993-1997), senior vice-president and chief economist of the World Bank from 1997 to 2000.

In an attempt to understand the Sachs-Stiglitz debate I am reading both. The overarching theme which concerns me is the moral mathematics that leads to the current disequilibrium. As a bricoleuse I am using technologies and software to heighten the findability of useful resources for a more informed civil society, one that includes moderate civil religions. Editor of Rollo May argued forcefully that “the terms ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’ employed by Sachs should refer to the state of one’s digestion, and have nothing whatever to do with truth (May 1982).

Jeffrey D. Sachs (2007) argued that those who challenged his unbounded optimism in human capacity to find solutions to our man-made problems through the use of human reason and spirit are promoting ideas that are dangerous and defeatist. He is convinced that humans can continue to build on the 17th century Enlightenment belief in Reason and Science to create a New 21st Century Enlightenment that still includes Adam Smith’s concepts of international markets and Condorcet’s improved harnessing of resources. Like his hero John Maynard Keynes, Sachs occupies a liminal space between the academic and political arenas. We can now develop sustainable smart technologies so that those in wealthier countries do not have to sacrifice but rather can maintain our current high-consumption level through smarter living while making poverty history through a New Politics of global co-operation, an Open-Source Leadership capable of providing concrete actions such as anti-malaria mosquito nets, universal access to anti-retroviral medications by 2010 and voluntary reduction of fertility rates in poor countries. His optimistic vision of a practical, attainable, dynamic, changing peace that meets the challenge of each new generation is “based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.” He dismisses those who question our ability to change or who feel depressed by his unabashed optimism in such dark times, as promoting a dangerous defeatist belief. He advocates commandeering the US military budget, debt cancellation for the poorest nations and zero sum redistribution. Whereas his solutions for economic reform for Bolivia in 1985 involved a rapid shock treatment approach to combat hyperinflation, he now advocates a gradualist approach in the evolution of human institutions. He calls for transparent timelines and responsibilities towards Gleneagles promises. He lists off historical acheivements such as the end of slavery, debt-relief, WHO programs as a rebuttal to the historic reality of the 20th century’s unfulfilled good intentions and unacheived goals.

Sachs claims that human reason can solve the unsolvable: “Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man, and man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute infinite concept of universal peace and goodwill of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams, but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal (Sachs 2007-04-11).”

Sachs on over-consumption: “I do not believe that the solution to this problem is a massive cutback of our consumption levels or our living standards. I think the solution is smarter living. I do believe that technology is absolutely critical, and I do not believe on the evidence that I’m going to be discussing in these Lectures that the essence of the problem is that we face a zero sum that must be re-distributed. I’m going to argue that there’s a way for us to use the knowledge that we have, the technology that we have, to make broad progress in material conditions, to not require or ask the rich to take sharp cuts of living standards, but rather to live with smarter technologies that are sustainable, and thereby to find a way for the rest of the world, which yearns for it, and deserves it as far as I’m concerned, to raise their own material conditions as well. The costs are much less than people think. You are making the argument that this is so costly we don’t dare do it (Sachs 2007-04-11).”
Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British Ambassador to the United States and currently Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission rejected Sachs’ overoptimistic assumption that human nature can make such a marked change that would lead to the solutions Sachs proposed. Meyer argued that history has proven otherwise.

I am still reading Stiglitz’s The Roaring Nineties: a New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade in my non-linear fashion. It is strange that his message is more uplifting to me that Sachs. To be continued . . .

Some useful key concepts emerging from these readings to be developed:

Anthropocene is a term coined by Paul Crutzen which “is the idea that for the first time in history the physical systems of the planet — chemical fluxes, the climate, habitats, biodiversity, evolutionary processes — are to an incredible and unrecognised extent under human forcings that now dominate a large measure of the most central ecological, chemical and bio-physical processes on the planet – the hydrological cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the location and extinction of species, and basic physical habitats. Of course human forcings have always played their role. We know that the hominids already controlled fire a million or more years ago, and therefore changed landscapes, even before the rise of homo sapiens. But never has the control of such fundamental processes been determined by human forcings, and we’ve barely awakened to that reality (Sachs 2007-04-11).” This is the the first of three challenges discussed by Sachs (2007-04-11) that face humankind in 2007. [. . .] Sachs’ discussed “the Anthropocene in Beijing, China, which soon will be the country that is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet, and one that faces its own profound challenges of water stress, which will worsen, perhaps immeasurably, as the glaciers of the Himalayas melt and as the seasonal timing of snow melt from the Himalayas changes the river flow of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers and other rivers of Asia. The Anthropocene tells us that it’s not just about one problem, as Sir Nicholas Stern, one of the intellectual leaders of our time, has brilliantly exposed in his report for the UK government. It’s not only the problem of mass extinctions, or only the problem of the mass destruction of fisheries in the North Atlantic and in many other parts of the world. We are weighing so heavily on the Earth’s systems, not only through carbon dioxide emissions changing climate but through carbon dioxide emissions acidifying oceans, through destruction of habitat, which is literally driving perhaps millions of species right off the planet. We are over-hunting, over-fishing, and over-gathering just about anything that grows slowly or moves slowly. If we can catch it we kill it. Our capacity in the Anthropocene is unprecedented, poorly understood, out of control, and a grave and common threat (Sachs 2007-04-11).”

Folksonomies

Globalization, Economic conditions, Economics, International Monetary Fund, IMF, World Trade Organization, WTO, World Bank, Washington Consensus, WB, neoliberal, market liberal, vulnerability to social exclusion, at-risk populations, extremes of wealth and poverty, moral mathematics,

A Tag cloud for Jeffrey D. Sachs’s Reith Lectures tbc

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Bursting at the Seams, Reith Lectures, BBC, 1948, Royal Society of London, 1660, slavery, empire, humanist, project of modernity, Enlightenment project of material progress, reason, Adam Smith, economics, global market, international markets, technology, Wilberforce, anti-slavery, 1770s, Condorcet, harness reason to grow more crops and to extend life expectancy, [John Locke], important scientific issues of the day, leaders of thought and action, new enlightenment, John Maynard Keynes, John Kennedy, Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963, Cuban missile crisis, between academic and political, restore[d]? broken economies, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, global co-operation, harnessing resources, catastrophe, physical geography, epidemiology, climate stress, rain-fed agriculture, drought-prone savannah climates, disease, zoonotic disease, hunger, pollution, clash of civilisations, over-populated world, increasing risk, increasing instability, increasing hatred, tribalism, corruption, ignorance, fanaticism, modern history, Western Darfur, Beijing, China, water stress, acidifying oceans, Himalaya glaciers melt, Yangtze River, Yellow Rivers, Asia, carbon dioxide, geopolitics, fiction of United States as New Rome, leaders of thought and action, optimistic epistemic communities, Sir Nicholas Stern, multi-disciplinary, reason and faith, human nature, gradualism versus shock treatment, concrete actions, anti-malaria mosquito nets, 2010 universal access to anti-retroviral medications, child survival, rapid demographic transition, voluntary reduction of fertility rates in poor countries, Paul Crutzen, Anthropocene, Age of Convergence, women and development, Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia, Africa, over-consumption, maintain consumption level with smarter living, knowledge, technologies, redistribute zero sum that must be re-distributed, Sir Christopher Meyer, open-source leadership, new politics, unfulfilled good intentions, unacheived goals, 2001, World Health Organisation, AIDS, 2005 Make Poverty History, transparent timelines and responsibilities towards Gleneagles promises, GlaxoSmithKline, commandeering the US military budget, practical economics, 1985 debt cancellation for poorest countries, short-term thinking, addressing poverty at home, dangerous defeatist belief versus unbounded optimism.

Timeline of Social History

1776 Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, argued in his 1776 treatise The Wealth of Nations that the market leads us as if by an invisible hand to economic efficiency. Although Adam Smith’s thoughts on this were more circumspect, he is cited by those who since then have argued for unfettered markets. For a critique of the invisible hand argument see the work of Nobel Peace Prize winners Gerard Debreu and Kenneth Arrow (Stiglitz RN 2003:13).

Post WWII

1950s Nobel Peace Prize winners Gerard Debreu and Kenneth Arrow ‘established the conditions under which Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” worked. These include a large number of unrealistic condition, such as that the information was either perfect, or at least not affected by anything going on in the economy, and that whatever information anybody had, others had the same information; that competition was perfect; and that one could buy insurance against any possible risk. Though everyone recognised that these assumptions were unrealistic, there was a hope that the real world did not depart too much from such assumptions – if information were not too imperfect, or firms did not have too much market power – then Adam Smith’s (1776) invisible hand theory would still provide a good description of the economy. This was a hope based more on faith – especially by those whom it served well – than on science (Stiglitz RN 2003:13).”

1980 – 1992 During US Presidents Reagan and Bush I administrations national economic policies were shaped by free market ideologies who idealized the private sector and demonized government programs and regulations (Stiglitz RN 2003:12).

1987 Stock markets fell on October 19 by 23% erasing nearly a quarter of Corporate America’s capital (Stiglitz RN 2002:62).

1991 An economic downturn, a recession, began [in the US?] (Stiglitz RN 2003:54). Between 1990 and 1992 3.5 million people in the US were added to the unemployment pool while millions of others lost well-paying jobs and were forced into underemployment (Stiglitz RN 2003:40). The US federal government lowered interest rates but not quickly enough (Stiglitz RN 2003:40).

1992 President Bush was defeated largely due to poor economic performance (Stiglitz RN 2003:48). Economic circumstances were unsual [in the US?] (Stiglitz RN 2003:54).

1993 President Clinton largely owed his election to the faltering US economy. In January 1993 unemployment was at 7.3%, the US GDP was shrinking by -0.1% and the budget deficit had increased to 4.7% up from 2.8% in 1989 (Stiglitz RN 2003:40-1). Clinton made deficit reduction his priority setting aside his social agenda of job creation. Clinton under the advice of his risk-taking New Democrat economists (including Stiglitz) went against the standard theory of economics that held that deficit reduction slowed down economies and increased unemployment. They took the risk that they would succeed in backloading the nation’s deficit into a future more prosperous time (Stiglitz RN 2003:41). Clinton proposed taxation of polluters (emitters of greenhouse gases) (Stiglitz RN 2003:48).

1997 The meltdown of Asian economies

1997 Stiglitz in Ethiopia, Thailand and Russia

1997? Stiglitz resigned when his protestations about the fundamental wrongness of policies that force already vulnerable economies into capital liberalisation were met with disdain by his political masters.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bibliography and Weliography

May, Rollo. 1982. “The Problem of Evil: An Open Letter to Carl Rogers.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Summer:20.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2007. “Bursting at the Seams.” Reith Lectures. BBC. No. 1. April 11, 2007. 9am. http://www.bbc.co.uk/print/radio4/reith2007/lecture1.shtml?print

Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2002. Globalization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ECO-STI-GLO
Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2003. The Roaring Nineties: a New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade. New York: W. W. Norton.

Notes to be developed . . .

The standard theory of economics in the ??? held that deficit reduction would slow down recovery and increase unemployment (Stiglitz RN 2003:41).

Keynes theory of economics was that . . . (Stiglitz RN 2003:41).

New risk management that Clinton applied in 1993 was smaller government and smaller deficit (Stiglitz RN 2003:41)?

The New Democrats like President Bill Clinton and his administration in 1993, were a loose group of politicians, academics and policy makers who called for a revamping of the Democratic Party. They wanted to replace the overuse of bureaucratic solutions with greater concerns for policy impact on business and the marketplace (including Stiglitz?) (Stiglitz RN 2003:12).


CC 3.0 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Sachs-Stiglitz debates: Nobel and Reith.” >> Google Docs. Uploaded December 14, 2007. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_433djbf9mfx

Stressing your system

December 8, 2007


He was a first generation Canadian and was deeply proud of his Scottish background. Whether saying a prayer, making a presentation or telling one of his many jokes, it all sounded better with his Scottish brogue. When I read letters or emails from him I still hear it. He seemed somehow to embody so much of Herman’s portrayal of his country as described in How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It. We were twenty years younger but we became lifetime friends inspite of physical distance and long lapses in communication. Not long ago we were there beside her hospital bed when his wife died of cancer. He was still involved in the local community and in masters’ athletics.

He worked for many years as mechanical engineer with mining companies in remote and northerly areas. His was the first story of the American-style firing I heard and perhaps for that reason I felt it so deeply. Perhaps it was how and where we learned about it that made it seem so ominous. In the 1980s we were living in a third-world country in a youthful self-imposed minimalist lifestyle that suited the idealism of those who experienced the 1960s. In comparison to where we were living, so much of the Canadian socio-economic, political structures seemed like a mirage, a goal towards which our adopted home could aspire to, perhaps 50 years in the future. When the letter arrived we read it together in disbelief. If he was vulnerable to being fired, to being almost cheated out of a pension, how could others survive? How could this happen in Canada? He talked about a colleague who arrived at work one day and without warning was met at the entrance by Security who accompanied him to his office and observed as he emptied his personal belongings from his desk into a cardboard box. The man left in a daze and was found hours later wandering off along the highway with his box in his hand unable to grasp what had happened to him.

During the 1990s when we were back in Canada, the American-style firing became common practice. Companies learned to use financial incentives to ensure the silence of people they fired. Our Scottish friend eventually landed on his feet, started a successful second career and rarely seemed to reveal any bitterness about the experience. Other friends and family members have not been so fortunate. Were we indeed acquiescing, as Uchitelle (2006 [2007]) suggests and therefore encouraging the counterproductive process of layoffs, mergers and acquisitions and outsourcing, that destroyed the notion of job security and dignity of work in North America?

So as I read synopses, excerpts and reviews from the book entitled The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences (2006 [2007]) by economist, journalist and professor, Louis Uchitelle, it brought me back to that 1980′s letter, like an old postcard that slipped from between the virtual pages of Uchitelle’s book making this story so intimate, personal and timeless.

Timeline of related social events

1950s and 1960s Economist, journalist and professor, Louis Uchitelle described this period as the heyday in the rise of job security in the United States (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1966-1988 Donald W. Davis was CEO of Stanley Works for twenty two years in New Britain, Connecticut, the city’s largest employer. These two decades spanned the city’s largest employer best days to the beginning of the layoffs (which he initiated) and plant closings in the 1980s. Like many chief executives of his era, he had been deeply involved in the life of the city that had supplied thousands of Stanley’s workers. The Davis children attended public school in New Britain where he served on the Board of Education including a stint as president of the Board (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1975 Foreign competition made its inroads into the North American economy. Corporations panicked with a knee-jerk reaction by implementing the first major layoffs which eventually spread and multiplied, in time destroying the notion of job security and the dignity of work in North America (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1987 Economist, journalist and professor, Louis Uchitelle covered economics for The New York Times since 1987, focusing on labor and business issues.

1988 Donald W. Davis retired on schedule, a wealthy man. He sold his bright yellow Dutch Colonial home in New Britain, Connecticut, and moved with his wife to Martha’s Vineyard, where their summer house on seven acres of rolling lawn became their main residence (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1996 Economist and journalist Louis Uchitelle shared a major award for its 1996 series “The Downsizing of America.” He also taught journalism at Columbia University’s School of General Studies.

2006 Former CEO of Stanley Works, 81-year-old Donald W. Davis was running a leadership seminar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This was his final public platform where he could present his explanation of the layoffs and plant closings at Stanley Works in the 1980s. Somewhere between 1988 and 2006 he became too uncomfortable to make the four hour trip between his comfortable home in Martha’s Vineyard to New Britain, Connecticut. His former employees had lost their jobs against their wishes. Although he admits to initiating the layoffs he maintains that no one blames him.

Category

Business & Economics >> Economic Conditions

Keywords, folksonomies:

Business, Economics, Economic Conditions, layoffs, job security, wasteful mergers, mergers and acquisitions, wage stagnation, outsourcing, Business Ethic, labour, labor, downsizing,

Webliography and Bibliography

Herman, Arthur. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It.

Uchitelle, Louis. 2007. “Le coût psychique du licenciement.” Le Monde diplomatique. Octobre.

Uchitelle, Louis. 2006. The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. Random House. 2006-03-28. ISBN: 1400041171

Uchitelle, Louis. 2007. The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. Knopf Publishing Group. Apr 2007. http://www.ereadable.com/scripts/browse.asp?ref=5551619605&source=P25

CC Flynn-Burhoe, 2007. Stressing your System. >> Speechless. December 7.

CC Flynn-Burhoe, 2007. Stressing your System. >> Google Docs. December 7.

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_420g988s8dt

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