Health beyond the headlines
ClaireWater

House of Cards: World Water Day

A splash of public health fan fiction

Published March 21, 2014

We were wondering what Claire Underwood—wife of House of Cards Majority Whip, turned vice president, turned (spoiler alert!) president, Frank Underwood—would have to say on World Water Day. After all, her non-profit had something to do with water, didn’t it? And, in our tongue-in-cheek fan fiction, we learned that there are two kinds of aid—aid that actually helps those in need… and unnecessary, self-serving aid.

the2x2project    Welcome First Lady Underwood. Thank you for sitting down with us on World Water Day.

Claire Underwood   Of course. I’m delighted.

the2x2project   Would you like any water yourself?

Claire   Um, why yes I…

the2x2project   Bottle or tap? We have both.

Claire   Oh. [takes bottle of water]

the2x2project   That other stuff’s disgusting anyway, isn’t it?

Claire   I wouldn’t say that.

the2x2project   Well, the American people seem to think so.

Claire   Bottled water has its place in American society, for certain.

the2x2project   It sure does. When I want a drink, I want it from an A+ student, not the kid who’s skipping class, smoking out on the corner, just barely passing.

Claire   You’re talking about America’s water infrastructure grade, right?

the2x2project   Maybe.

Claire   The American people do deserve better.

the2x2project   That’s right. They deserve bottled water. That’s why I applaud the recent Clean Water bill you’ve tried to pass, giving $3 billion in incentives to bottled water companies.

Claire [laughing]   Well, we are also investing $400 million to improve the U.S. water infrastructure.

the2x2project   Why? He’s just gonna go buy smokes and a new trenchcoat with it.

Claire [laughing]   We think the investment is fair and will help move our country in the right direction.

the2x2project   It’s true. You get what you pay for, and when you’re paying 300 times more for bottled water than tap, it means we’re basically drinking gold.

Claire   The incentives for bottled water will help our country’s economy significantly.

the2x2project   Especially the trash men, right? It will keep them in business. Or Nike—they make running tights out of plastic bottles.

Claire   The Clean Water bill is a strong one.

the2x2project   Well, you should know. You started the Clean Water Initiative, a non-profit organization, fifteen years ago, building wells in Monrovia.

Claire   That’s correct.

the2x2project   How was Italy?

Claire   Liberia?

the2x2project   Ah, Italian for library…

Claire   No, it’s in West Africa.

the2x2project   I’m sure the librarians loved the water. So, were the wells designed to break down in a few years so you could build more?

Claire   Well, in real life, things do break down. But, we’ve put in thousands of wells throughout sub-Saharan Africa and delivered water to many remote communities.

the2x2project   Why make sure they’re well-constructed and sustainable when you can just build new ones?

Claire   Again, there are difficulties in water aid and well breakdown can be an issue. But, I do think it will have a massive impact on the domestic and international water landscape.

the2x2project   Wonderful. You can sell wells like bottles of water! How about going for a run?

This piece is a fictitious skewering of some of the questionable kinds of behavior taking place in the world of water, development, and public health. For all those doing good, we salute you.

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The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and do not represent those of the Department of Epidemiology, the Mailman School of Public Health, or Columbia University.