The city of Cochabamba, Bolivia gives us an indication of what happens. They did this with their water supply. Workers took control of the means of production. The people revolted against privatization of their water supply and subsequently took over. With the workers in charge of the means of production, results have been terrible. Water only flows in Cochabamba for 5 days a week, and the water that does flow is of "questionable quality." There is about a 50% loss of product due to bad pipes and bad people (leaks, theft, and cronyism). There are over twice as many people drawing paychecks from the "business" than are needed and it would take over $100 million in emergency bailout money in order to make things work well (and even then, there are no guarantees). It all points to one conclusion:
When you give workers control of the means of production, results are terrible.
Amparo Valda, who lives in central Cochabamba, told IPS that she has to store water in containers in preparation for the two days a week when there is no water supply. In addition, she has to buy bottled water, at a price of 2.50 dollars a litre, for drinking and cooking, because of the questionable quality of the piped water. --http://www.ipsnews.net/2006/11/bolivia-cochabambas-water-war-six-years-on/
“But even if the social mobilisation did not achieve optimal results, water distribution has improved substantially, although there is a lack of commitment by citizens for participating in administering the municipal company,” Congressman Gabriel Herbas, another founder of the Coordinadora, remarked to IPS.
Independent analyst Vincent Gómez-García told IPS that the “water war” had heightened SEMAPA’s problems of inefficiency and poor administration, due to heavy politicisation of the company.
Prior to the April 2000 conflict, attempts had been made to improve the professional level of the company’s management. But now, the groups behind the “water war” have demanded jobs in the company, which has lowered the quality of administration to extremely low levels, argued Gómez-García.
That view is at least partially shared by Maldonado, who said he has found serious problems in the municipal water company, like the loss of 50 percent of water supplies due to pipe leakage, theft and privileged treatment received by people with political influence.
The hiring of 700 employees rather than the 270 that were needed, fighting over the distribution of jobs in the company among the “citizen directors” and the lack of a complete register of the company’s installations are other difficulties identified by Maldonado, who suggests immediate investment of some 120 million dollars to resolve the urgent problems of expanding the water distribution network and reducing leakage.
SEMAPA’s web site admits that “water service is not continuous and shows marked rationing that has become habitual since water supplies began – the result of a semi-arid climate, constant population growth, and insufficient infrastructure for the distribution of water to the centres of consumption.”
Perhaps the current conditions in this company that was expected to become a model of administration and citizen participation was one of the reasons that the leader of the April 2000 protests, union organiser Oscar Olivera, avoided two IPS requests for an interview and did not respond to a short email questionnaire.
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 6/13, 5:09pm)