Monday, October 11, 2004
As Lebanon experiences its worst power outages in twenty two years, the privatization debate that takes place here every now and then is a moot point –it's already happened.
It's also impossible – how can you privatize something intangible, something that doesn’t exist? (It's like privatizing ghosts).
What's there to privatize anyway? Privatizing "electricity" in this country is privatizing candle manufacturing and that's allready private.
Essential services such as water, electricity etc are already de facto privatized – by failing to provide these services adequately, the government has effectively privatized them; driving citizens into the hands of thousands of profiteering suppliers that have popped up to fill this void.
E.g. the going rate for a load of water (2000 liters) from a tank jockey residents around here have been using nonstop for about a month now (and intermittently throughout the summer) is 25,000LL.
And I write this to the accompaniment of the whir of private electricity generators – the unofficial, yet true, Lebanese national anthem ("The Night of a Thousand Generators").
When the generator is eventually turned off, I will continue typing this onto my state-of-the-art laptop computer* and upload it onto my site, via the technology of the internet, by candlelight! (As I have so often done before)
This juxtaposition is the very definition of Lebanon and the Third World.
*It was when it was new.