Monday, April 20, 2015
Joel Kotkin, writing
about California's water crisis, offers an interesting assortment
of data and historical background on the problem, but I disagree with
many aspects of his analysis. As a case in point Kotkin notes the
slowness of many municipalities to act on the common knowledge that
the state was wasting water:
Many cities, too, have been slow to meet the challenge. Some long resisted metering of water use. Other places have been slow to encourage drought-resistant landscaping, which is already pretty de rigeur in more aridity-conscious desert cities like Tucson. This process may take time, but it is already showing value in places like Los Angeles where water agencies provide incentives. [link dropped]Not to belabor my differences with Kotkin, but while I agree that water use should be metered, I disagree that government should be involved. The problem here is that a valuable commodity has been treated by governments as a birthright, rather than as something to be bought and sold. That said, the bit about not even metering water use reminded me of a better analysis I encountered last year that gets closer to the real problem:
[T]he proliferation of limits on water use will not solve the problem because regulations do nothing to address the main driver of the nation's wanton consumption of water: its price.Although even that piece was a far cry from advocacy of a capitalistic solution, it is easier to conceive of an alternative absent from today's debate: phasing out central "planning". Central planners caused the water crisis by making water artificially cheap, conning millions into moving to a semi-desert. The crisis they made is ugly, and I see no reason why their solution -- as the nature of central planning and the indications in Kotkin's article make clear -- won't be even uglier.
Today: Fixed a formatting error.