Say no to Ni America

Published 6:44 pm Monday, February 20, 2012

To the Editor:
In considering the potential privatization of the Tryon water supply, it might be helpful to ponder first on the fact that local people would be giving up immediate control of their water to an entity whose sole motive is profit, and whose managers are accountable to shareholders who live who-knows-where. This entity exists to earn money for shareholders whose addresses may be Shanghai, Bahrain, Tokyo, Mexico City – or anywhere.
Because Ni America is a  profit-making entity, the managers are  hired and fired by the shareholders, who expect a good return on their invested dollars.
Full disclosure: I am not opposed to profit, and I have some shares invested with a local broker.
And, how, one may ask, does an entity make a good profit?  They cut costs, while providing a service. And how do they cut costs? Usually by cutting labor costs by hiring the cheapest competent workers they can find and by buying the cheapest adequate materials they can find.
One might well ask local stockbrokers how Ni America is rated, also. Furthermore, do the president, CEO and other officials live in a community serviced by Ni America? Assuming that all shareholders currently live in the U.S., what assurances do we have that foreigners could not buy up a majority of shares at any time?
In the event of poor service or disruption of service, what recourse does the town of Tryon have? Can the town legally begin withholding payments? What would be the costs of yet another lawsuit?
While I am sure there are good reasons for considering Ni America’s desire to operate our water supply – and I’d still like to know why they want to – my 80+ years have taught me that when I am not sure of a deal, the best response is a categorical “no,” or maybe just a provisional “no.”
–– Bill Holcomb, Tryon

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