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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7839/rain-rain-go-away/

Rain, Rain, Go Away

February 27, 2008 by

Note that no drought ever officially ends. The papers are packed with warnings of impending doom during the worst of it. But when the torrents of rain come — and they invariably do, eventually — there is no press release that says something along the lines of: “Praise Be to God, the drought is over. Use as much water as you are willing to pay for!”

Bureaucrat International has a common feature: loathing of “consumerism.” Whereas people want to have choice over how they spend their money, bureaucrats want us to suffer constantly, and be intensely aware of what we use, trusting not the price system to determine our consumption patterns but rather obey regulations and strictures. FULL ARTICLE

{ 26 comments }

EnEm February 27, 2008 at 9:09 am

North Carolina is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in its history.

TokyoTom February 27, 2008 at 9:15 am

Jeff, good post.

“State ownership and management of the means of production are the key reason. Privatize — completely privatize — the supply of water and a change would emerge overnight.”

This observation is even more powerfully correct if you changed “water” to “electricity”. As with water, people overconsume because they face blended, average-cost rates, and aren’t allowed to see real marginal costs. Greater deregulation would profoundly rationalize the market, advance new technologies and reduce a tremendous amount of waste.

Water, of course, is profoundly different by region, profoundly politicized and also involves compex questions as to deal with access to unowned water in shared aquifers.

Garrett Schmitt February 27, 2008 at 9:23 am

Well, other places aren’t. If North Carolinans are desperately short of water, it can be had for money and shipped to NC in trucks and trains.

This isn’t the Dark Ages. If NC’s crops fail, the place isn’t doomed to famine.

Inquisitor February 27, 2008 at 9:47 am

“This isn’t the Dark Ages.”

Someone should inform the socialists of that.

Anyway, this title reminds me of a song I like by Breaking Benjamin. :) Good post too.

Fephisto February 27, 2008 at 9:59 am

“Look, it’s not complicated: drought is another name for shortage.”

Nice quote.

Inquisitor February 27, 2008 at 10:01 am

“This isn’t the Dark Ages.”

Someone should inform the socialists of that.

Anyway, this title reminds me of a song I like by Breaking Benjamin. :) Good post too.

Mark Thornton February 27, 2008 at 10:44 am

Great article.

The reason for the boom in bottled water is the fact that government water is no longer fit to drink in most places!

Do we need more government bureaucracy to suppress bottled water? No we need private provision of water!

William H. Stoddard February 27, 2008 at 11:32 am

One of the measures that have been implemented to “save” water, low-flow toilets, seems to have perverse effects. With the low amount of water, my toilet clogs regularly and has to be unclogged with a plunger—and that means flushing a second time to get enough water in for the plunger to work, and often a third time to wash down all the excreta after the plunger has done its job. This doesn’t strike me as saving water!

Fephisto February 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm

“One of the measures that have been implemented to “save” water, low-flow toilets, seems to have perverse effects. With the low amount of water, my toilet clogs regularly and has to be unclogged with a plunger—and that means flushing a second time to get enough water in for the plunger to work, and often a third time to wash down all the excreta after the plunger has done its job. This doesn’t strike me as saving water!”

King of the Hill had an episode based entirely around what you are talking about.

Paul Marks February 27, 2008 at 1:21 pm

The demented toilet regulations,, limiting the amount of water flushed, has led to some toilets being built with electric motors to speed up the limited water of the flush.

Expensive, has problems over time – and hardly “environmental”.

As for water supplies:

As the article suggests what is needed is private ownership of ground water (including rivers) and no regulations on price or supply.

billwald February 27, 2008 at 1:22 pm

First, there seems to be a qualitative difference between shortages caused by God and shortages caused by human greed and bad planning.

Second, seems obvious that one should map abnormal conditions, not normal conditions. Saves trees.

Jaq Phule February 27, 2008 at 2:13 pm

“Look, it’s not complicated: drought is another name for shortage.”

And “shortage” is another name for “shortage of government”. You see, if we only had enough oversight, we could plan our other shortages better, until we have a verifiable surplus of shortages.

I think it’s wonderful, how so many shortages of all kinds of stuff can be solved merely by hiring more people to sit in tiny offices with impressive stationery.

Michael A. Clem February 27, 2008 at 5:32 pm

I had no idea that drinking bottled water was becoming a sin, but I’ve known for some time now that city water was criminal!
;-)

Vedran February 28, 2008 at 1:32 am

Some fun facts:

Somalia has completely privatized water. Their main problem is that the water is still largely not drinkable in most cases without boiling. However, considering the poverty in the region this isn’t surprising. If Somalia had a clear government, it would still likely be unable to afford drinkable water.

Some other interesting things include loans to farmers by the water companies in times of drought. prices rise due to a drought and the water company will loan water to be repaid in installments.

Rplato February 28, 2008 at 1:38 am

Makes alot of sense if, those who have the rights to market water as a commodity would not succumb to the tempts of greed. I’m uneasy with the thought of a corporate head having power over a product that is the bases of all life. I think that even Adam Smith would have a problem with this one.

Evan W. Buhr February 28, 2008 at 7:10 am

Then very simply, Company B comes in and undercuts. The result is that they sell more for less profit, which equals more profits becasue they gain the larger part of the market.

I would liken it to Metro PCS. It’s a cell phone company here in Florida. They charge a flat rate of $45 for unlimited calling and text. When I first moved here 4 years ago they barely had reception in Vero Beach. (They were based out of Miami). Now they go all the way up to Orlando.

Ron February 28, 2008 at 8:23 am

RPlato,

A “corporate head” still has to answer to consumers or risk losing profits. Government answers to no one, regardless of what people believe about Democracy.

Fephisto February 28, 2008 at 9:05 am

“Somalia has completely privatized water. Their main problem is that the water is still largely not drinkable in most cases without boiling. However, considering the poverty in the region this isn’t surprising. If Somalia had a clear government, it would still likely be unable to afford drinkable water.”

This really makes me want to start a water business in Somalia.

George Gaskell February 28, 2008 at 9:31 am

I’m uneasy with the thought of a corporate head having power over a product that is the basis of all life.

I’m uneasy with the thought of a government having power over a product that is the basis of all life.

Aaron Kinney February 28, 2008 at 11:56 am

Dont forget that allowing the price to fluctuate along with the market will REDUCE The chances of a true shortage, since the slightest reduction in supply will bring the slightest increase in price which will in turn bring the slightest decrease in consumption, and thus reduce the strain on the supply itself.

If the government thinks they are so special and can solve all our problems through grand decrees, why dont they just pass legislation making drought illegal? ;-)

john delano February 28, 2008 at 6:40 pm

“This really makes me want to start a water business in Somalia.”

Bully states such as the US might have a problem with that, and you might get bombed by a proxy army working for the US or even the US itself.

Matthew Fuller February 28, 2008 at 7:12 pm

“Droughts turn neighbor against neighbor, and force the whole of everyone into the criminal class, reduced to sneaking around at night to water tomato plants.”

Indeed. An acquaintence recently passed on the story of one of his neighbors here in metro Atlanta. Seems one of his children had stepped in some doggy-doo. The parent got out the hose and cleaned the sneaker. A busy-body neighbor evidently felt this was sufficient grounds to call the water police. He got off with a warning. I commented that it was probably a lose-lose, for if he’d taken the tarnished shoe inside the neighbor would have probably had DFaCS called in for endangering the children.

My neighbor covertly watered some of her back yard plants a few times over the summer. Probably less water than an adult shower. She would call to joke and ask if I was going to report her. I normally would tell her she was safe until I would see her digging body-sized holes…. and even then….

swineholio February 28, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Here in arid West Texas, farmers are pumping the aquifers dry. Their incentive is the ample supply of tax dollars provided via subsidies, price supports, etc. However, one “astute” local government official has proposed a “solution” to this water shortage problem: raise taxes on all property owners in order to raise funds to pay the farmers (once again) to limit the number of acres they irrigate!

Dave Maietta February 29, 2008 at 4:14 pm

I recently did a quick survey of all my recurring bills, looking for expressions of gratitude from the organizations to which regularly I owe money (“Thanks for your recent payment of…”, “Thank you for your business”, etc.) Can you guess which bill was the only one lacking any such cordialities? Why, the (government) water bill, of course! What I do get from that one is a grammatically-challenged grunt of “delinquent accounts go on property taxes,” as well the admonition that “Failure to receive bill does not waive past due penalty.”

And people say that government is so much more compassionate and equitable than those evil capitalists. Good grief.

Rplato March 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Brings to mind, two corporate creeds,1 charge what the market can bare 2 how much is their life worth.
If your still not swayed,consider the price of bottled water, water that is conviently packaged for consumption and marketed for a profit via our publicly owned water distribution system and corporate distributors like coca cola.

Owen May 12, 2008 at 6:37 am

“A “corporate head” still has to answer to consumers or risk losing profits. Government answers to no one, regardless of what people believe about Democracy.”

A government which doesn’t provide goods services will not get re-elected in a democracy.

The larger issue is whether the water resource can and should be parceled out to private ownership given that it is such a necessary resource and is susceptable to overuse.

Therefore the answer is to allow private firms to pump and sell water but put restrictions on how much they can take. Where a water network of pipes is used to deliver water to households this is necessarily a natural monopoly because the barriers to effective competition are extemely high and would incur wasted capital investment. Therefore water pipes and distribution mechanisms should rightfully stay in public ownership.

Surprisingly the above scenarion is exactly what you have in most western cities and town around the world. A publicly owned distribution network and public or privately owned water providers who have restrictions placed on them for how much they can draw from common resources.

Of course they can draw as much as they like from the sea but then they would have to desalinate it – too bad it costs 10 times as much at the moment.

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