Bellerbys Economics - Mr Stephenson

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Go watch TV!

It's not often that I direct my students to watch television. TV in the UK has declined dramatically since the 1970s and is now little more than a procession of reality, gardening and lifestyle programmes presented by an eager array of vacuous young media studies graduates.

However, this Saturday, Channel 4 are presenting just about the best thing they've done in five years - and it's surely just a coincidence that the government is discussing the new budget for Channel 4 next week(!) - it's a movie documentary called 'A World Without Water' - that's on at 7.35pm on Saturday, April 29th - don't miss it!

People are finally beginning to realise that the world is running short of water - and there are many economics issues surrounding this problem - this documentary will be a goldmine for those of you currently revising module 3.

Is water a basic human right which should be provided as a public good? If so, why have so many countries - including the UK - recently privatised their water companies?

How does water differ from food as a commodity? Food is a private good and yet traditionally water is a public good? If having to work to find money to pay for food is an economic driver, than why shouldn't water be the same?

But what do you do if people cannot pay their water bills?

And how can you avoid the development of local water monopolies?

How can an industry like this be regulated?

How can we encourage investment - or even maintenance - when the price is regulated and companies can only make a profit by reducing their expenditure on investment or on labour - as in the UK?

Do we need a world water authority to manage supplies to hotspots such as the Middle East and East Africa (where there is on this very day a drought and people are dying)?

You can see how important this topic is - go and think about it.

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