Reprinted from ....
Sauk Prairie Eagle

May 18, 2000 
Sauk City, Wisconsin


To Whom Does America's Water Belong?
As a person who loves Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region after seeing its magnificent woodlands and waters, I was horrified to learn in Mike O'Connell's article, "Will Perrier drink us dry?" that the governor and state Department of Commerce are committed to allowing this Swiss company to pump 500 gallons a minute from an underground spring. I say the answer to Mr. O'Connell's question, "Should our God-given spring water be handed over to a private company so that we can buy it back at premium prices?" is Hell No!

This intense matter also has international dimensions. Another private company had a permit to export 156 million gallons of water a year from Lake Superior overseas for profit. Audubon Magazine reports that fresh water as a tradable commodity is so desperately needed by most of the world's populations who live in water-poor areas that, "The wars of the next century will be about water."

Michael J. Donahue, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, said, "Since the 1970's Canada and the United States have spent $11 billion cleaning up the Great Lakes. We didn't clean the water so a private interest can scoop it up and sell it .... Overseas water export is tantamount to draining this region's lifeblood." And Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak asked: "If we allow the exportation of our fresh water, will areas like the Great Lakes literally be put on the world market for sale to the highest bidder?"

It is urgent that people everywhere know that Eli Siegel--poet, economist, and founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism in 1941--explained the crucial questions here and also the answers: 1) To whom does the wealth of the world belong? and 2) What does a person deserve by being alive?

I learned from Aesthetic Realism that the basis of the profit systern--the using of the labor of many people to make a profit for a few using America's vast natural resources and wealth--is contempt, which Mr. Siegel defined as "the addition to self through the lessening of something else." The fact that something as elemental as water is providing huge profits for a few people is outrageous utter contempt. As early as 1923 Mr. Siegel wrote in the Modern Quarterly with impeccable, passionate logic:

    Now if nobody made the land, it is evident, to a really normal human being, that everybody living has a right to own it and should own it .... And the people should own industry because the land (the land here is used to mean things like air, water, animals and so on belonging to nature) from which it comes was made by nobody and so should be owned by no one, or few, or many men, but by all.
And in 1970, Eli Siegel alone of all economists saw that the profit system, with its ugly, unethical basis, no longer worked. "There will be no economic recovery," he wrote in Goodbye Profit System: Update, "unlesseconomics itself, the making of money, the having of jobs becomes ethical, is based on good will. rather than on the ill will which has beenpredominant for centuries."
  • More about economic justice
  • International Periodical
  • Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism in the press
  • Home


  • Aesthetic Realism Foundation
    141 Greene Street
    New York, NY 10012


    © 2000 Aesthetic Realism Foundation
    A not-for-profit educational foundation