Water Capitalism: The Case for Privatizing Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, and Aquifers

Walter Block Peter Lothian Nelson

Water covers some 75 percent of the earth’s surface, while land covers 25 percent, approximately. Yet the former accounts for less than 1 percent of world GDP, the latter 99 percent plus. Part of the reason for this imbalance is that there are more people located on land than water. But a more important explanation is that while land is privately owned, water is unowned (with the exception of a few small lakes and ponds), or governmentally owned (rivers, large lakes). This gives rise to the tragedy of the commons: when something is unowned, people have less of an incentive to care for it, preserve it, and protect it, than when they own it. As a result we have oil spills, depletion of fish stocks, threatened extinction of some species (e.g., whales), shark attacks, polluted and dried-up rivers, misallocated water, unsafe boating, piracy, and other indices of economic disarray which, if they had occurred on the land, would have been more easily identified as the result of the tragedy of the commons and/or government ownership and mismanagement. The purpose of this book is to make the case for privatization of all bodies of water, without exception. In the tragic example of the Soviet Union, the 97 percent of the land owned by the state accounted for 75 percent of the crops. On the 3 percent of the land privately owned, 25 percent of the crops were grown. The obvious mandate requires that we privatize the land, and prosper. The present volume applies this lesson, in detail, to bodies of water.

water capitalism
Meet the Author
Walter Block
Walter Block

Walter Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at Loyola University, senior fellow of the Mises Institute, and regular columnist for LewRockwell.com.

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