Can water be non-neoliberal? The Dutch case
Dutch drinking water is despite the absence of the use of chlorine the best. According to Science. Look also here. And here is Wikipedia. The secret? Good maintenance (according De Volkskrant of today, no link). And state of the art purification (without chlorine). Also, Dutch water companies do not have to pay dividends. They are government owned companies at arms length of the bureaucrats. They do not have to pay dividends and have, therewith, the money as well as the long term orientation to care about their product. This is a conscious choice. According to Wikipedia (didn’t know this before preparing this blog, thank you mister Pronk): ‘In 2004 the Netherlands passed a law which prevents any privately owned company from providing drinking water services to the public‘.
‘Maintenance’ is a favorite Dutch passtime – has something to do with centuries of experience with the consequences of badly maintained flood defences. But the long term orientation and the use of funds is clearly linked to the legal structure of the water companies. It is a non-neoliberal thing. Aside: such government production seems to work best when simple, clear final products (not to be confused with the production technology) which do not change too much in the course of time have to be produced and a long term time frame is necessary. Some examples are flood defences, water and parts of public transportation, sewer systems and roads. And bridges.