Big Government had zilch to do with it, other than approving what the wealthy individuals and corporations demanded. It wasn't the government's
idea, but rather private individuals, mostly the cattle barons who laid claim to everything they could think of.
Our government has pretty much always been bought and paid for, just go look up some history. Tammany Hall, Mayor Daly ring any bells? In the western
states it was even worse. Look up the history of the King Ranch in Texas, hell I'll do it for you:
King Ranch, located in south Texas between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, is one of the world's largest ranches. The 825,000 acres (3,340 km2;
1,289 sq mi) ranch, founded in 1853 by Captain Richard King and Gideon K. Lewis, includes portions of six Texas counties, including most of Kleberg
County and much of Kenedy County, with portions extending into Brooks, Jim Wells, Nueces, and Willacy counties.
When I was growing up in Texas, it was well known that every politician, cop, and judge in those county's were King's men, and did exactly as they
were told. The King family had, probably still have, their own private voting block in the state legislature. The King Ranch might be the biggest, but
the pattern was repeated throughout the West up until recent times, at least til the '60s. The cattle barons owned
the state governments,
literally. When Big Oil came on the scene, they joined the Cattle Baron club, too. It's all there in the history books if you look.
By getting the government to pass a law saying that the rainwater belonged to everyone, i.e., the state, not individuals, it then became the state's
prerogative to say who could use it for what, and lease those rights to those individuals who just so happened to be the ones who wrote the law, or
them once removed. It also allowed for the administering of the water for fat fees.
Now there are just enough good reasons to allow that indeed, runoff might be considered to belong to all and not any one individual to give the idea
of a law concerning it a modicum of logic, especially since the old cattle barons were wont to try to dam the river to spite their downstream
competitors. The problem arises when it is viewed as a profit center rather than non-profit resource.
You see when the "government" lays claim to something that belongs to all of us, like the rainwater, they don't stipulate that what falls on our
property belongs to us and what runs off belongs to everyone. They claim it all and then sell the right to resell it or use it to themselves (in the
old days) or to an experienced corporation (usually business associates who return the favor when they're in office).
Can't think of an easier way to make a buck than to claim what falls for free then resell it, while making it illegal for anyone but you or your
approved friends to do so.
Want to bet that sooner or later, at the behest of the energy companies, they will lay claim to the sunshine for solar power, charging you for the
sunshine falling on your roof? It's the same logic.
Bechtel claimed Bolivia's water:
Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a
life in human dignity. Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all. --UN Committee On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
The Bechtel Corporation's 2000 takeover of the public water system of Cochabamba, Bolivia and the civic revolt that ended it, in addition to being an
inspiring story of local people taking courageous action, is also a cautionary tale of how global economic rules have the power to reduce
international human rights law into nothing but pretty words on paper.
A Deliberate Step Backwards in the Right to Affordable Water
International human rights law recognizes that nations, especially the poorest, are not going to bring economic, cultural and social rights to life
overnight. Human rights law lays out a path toward the securing of those rights known as "progressive realization". Governments are required to have
a clear plan for moving forward on these rights and are expressly prohibited from taking any "deliberate steps backwards".
By any definition imaginable, the privatization of Cochabamba's water was a deliberate step backwards in making water was a deliberate step
backwards in making water affordable for the citys poorest people. The Bechtel Corporation, after taking over the water system, increased water prices
for the poorest by 40%-50%, and in some cases by more than double. Families were literally forced to choose between feeding their children or paying
their water bills.