Urinetown and the one-percent protests


I saw a production of ‘Urinetown – the Musical’ at the University of Melbourne last night. But today’s news stories had me concerned that the play had not stopped.

In case you haven’t seen the show, the story is about environmental and economic disaster and how corporate greed can exploit the masses. A large corporation controls water resources through payments on peeing. The corporation makes lots of money and bribes politicians but argues that it is necessary. As one character notes (after the benefits are explained to her):

Gosh Daddy, I never realized large, monopolizing corporations could be such a force for good in the world

The masses rise up for the right to pee, sounding very much like these quotes from the ABC story about the Australian version of the Wall Street Protests:

… we want a world for human need, not corporate greed. …

There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of how our economy works …

In Urinetown, the rebels win:

instituting a series of reforms which opened the public bathrooms to all the people, to pee for free whenever they liked, as much as they liked, for as long as they liked, with whomever they liked.

But Urinetown is black satire. The authors know about the ‘tragedy of the commons’ and while the exploitation by monopoly might be bad, a lack of property rights and an environmental free-for-all can be worse:

Of course, it wasn’t long before the water turned silty, brackish and then disappeared altogether. As cruel as Caldwell B. Cladwell was, his measures effectively regulated water consumption, sparing the town the same fate as the phantom Urinetown

So maybe our local protestors should pop along to the UniMelb theatre to check out that the reforms they want will make things better not worse. As LIttle Sally says:

What kind of musical is this?! The good guys finally take over and then everything starts falling apart.


One Response to "Urinetown and the one-percent protests"
  1. Seems like the tea party nirvana not the OWS crowd. Of course the outcome of the tea party would be the starting point for urinetown. Always there seems to be dichotomy when in reality theres a whole spectrum in many dimensions between these opposites.  We can be smart enouigh to find a happy medium if we all asked – how would we like the world to be if we could be born as anyone.

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