The following is a response I had to a reader concerning how to solve the water managment issue and shortages around the world. They are provisionary thoughts on one way I think the problem can be solved. Here is the article which the comment is a part of: Article
I am glad you don't have power (I assume you do not). It is that kind of irrational thought process that destroys humanity. What if I offered to pay you $30 a gallon for the water from your lake? I am sure you would reconsider and at the same time the high price I am willing to pay will cause me to use that water as effectively as I can. Should you notice the water in your lake is depleting to fast, start charging $50 per gallon or $60. I will cut back on my water consumption and use that water I now buy for you even more effectively, since I am conserving and using less yet want to try and attain the same effect as when water was $30 per gallon. The problem is, the delivery of water is not like oil or natural gas or electricity.
People tend to claim that it is a 'fundamental right' to have access to water. By what faulty misconception of what rights are does this come about. You have one fundamental right, the right to your own life. This right does not put positive obligations on others (as the 'right' to water does), it merely means others can not (or should not) kill you or take your liberty and property (the methods by which you sustain your own life) from you by force.
Take the disasters that result when people confuse rights with non-rights, such as a house. The government subsidies the housing industry and props up faulty or bad loans and causes the boom and bust and illusionary perception that the housing problem has been solved. Only, as is illustrated by the housing bust now, this is truly an illusion built on quicksand, there is not foundation by which the 'prosperity' is built on.
Forward to the current water problem. There is not real 'price' on water per say because it is a 'fundamental right'. Of course, if something has no proper 'price' then that resource will be overused and misused until it is no longer available. For example, look at the rain forest in Brazil. The property rights in that region are not properly defined and the cost for buying and razing the forest is not properly priced. So what happens? The forest is misused, overused and is depleting rapidly. Look at the forest in the United States. The property rights are clearly defined and the cost is such that they are conserved, both because the price involved and because people who own property with forest on them see that the property retains more value if the trees remain or if the forest is used properly and replanted as well.
As Okkervil said, emotions have no place in this debate because they only cloud out rational thinking. People do not realize that once they shed this notion that water is a 'fundamental right' that it will actually be better for society, more people will have access to water and that water will be used more efficiently because there will be a price for that water. Like most things, if a group of people can not afford the price, there are many others who have the desire and are willing to pay (volunteer, charities, other private, voluntary actions) in order to see their fellow humans alleviated from suffering, without resorting to force, aka government.
It will be interesting to see who wins this debate, I will guess that the liberal (socialist bent, not classical liberty bent) view point will prevail due to the miseducation of the majority of people by government schools and economic illiteracy. But I hold out hope that even a minor step in the direction of defined property rights will yield enough benefits that people shed their preconceptions and realize things work better when you are not riding on an imaginary white horse which can somehow defy economic realities. Thank you.---
So people who do not live near oil should not be able to buy it from those who do? How about coal, aluminum, copper, gold, silver, corn, rice, or all the other natural resources which are scattered about the earth. Just as I would not sell some items in my possession, no matter the price, so to the market gives you the ability not to sell your water.
You confuse the 'fundamental right' to water with water defined in property right terms, e.g. like coal, gold, diamonds, etc. Water as a 'fundamental right' means that everyone has a right to access to water, it is the same as saying people have a 'right' to food, in other words someone else has to supply it to you since it is a 'fundamental right'. Water defined as a property right merely allows for the allocation and selling of water on the market place, it would not mean someone has to supply that water, only that they can if they choose to deal with you. For example, suppose I had a house with a pool, the water in that pool would be mine in that I own it and its consumption. But, if I wanted to, I could sell that water to someone else who believes they can put it to better use. That does not mean that person has a 'fundamental right' to my water, only that they have the right to bargain with me it is sale.
The one problem with this method of doing business is the issue of who gains first 'rights' to water? This is where I am afraid people such as yourself (and those around the Great Lakes, please do not cite the propagandist, misleading rhetoric of Congressional representatives who try to whip up anger in people such as you in order to divert you away from tackling the issue) will be so inclined to believe that people will 'steal' all your water when in fact this method would lead to its conservation without having to resort to force, or government intervention. Also, should the demand be great enough for Great Lake water, an entrepreneur could devise a method of bringing fresh water from other regions (say from lakes in Canada, from rivers or underground water) and pumping it into the Great Lakes. If he could pump water into the lakes at the same rate he takes it out while costing him less to pump in then it does to pump out and sell, a profit opportunity is created and the potential for a solution to the problem appears.
I recognize that the use of water like property seems like a radical idea, but until it is treated like other natural resources it will continue to be misused. Oil has been misused because it has been subsidized and played with for so long that it is no longer a true market scenario, but that is an issue for another day.
One last note, how can people cry out that water is a 'fundamental right' yet claim they have the authority and power to prevent people access to a body of water without any clear definition of whether water is property or not?---
Did you even read my post? I would appreciate it if you did.
I said: "That does not mean that person has a 'fundamental right' to my water, only that they have the right to bargain with me it is sale."
You said: "The people who do not live near oil should be prepared to not have oil, if nobody wants to sell it. People should not be FORCED into selling something they don't want to sell. That's tantamount to theft."
You are the one advocating forcibly preventing others from selling water from the Great Lakes, which by the arbitrary means you consider yours and those who support you automatically illustrate (by some logical flaw) that the majority of the people in your region actually want to prevent selling of water from the Water Basin, even though a Congressional act is far from a sign of approval by the majority of people. Even so, as Okkervil said, just because you have the majority, does not mean you are right or that your plans will work out logically.
Also, Arizona is not taking your water, most of the water they get, especially Tucson, is from their own underground water or water taken from the Colorado River. It would be to expensive to transport the amount of water needed from the Great Lakes to Arizona when they can get it locally through a variety of sources or buy it from surrounding states.
Third, if it was not for tariffs, they, heavy manufacturers, would not be near the Great Lakes, but more near the port cities, as it now becoming evident and old industry jobs drain from that region, but I do not care to start these useless regional wars, as they are arbitrary boundaries created by the state.
Where do you think you would get your oil to run your factories from if not for the people in the deserts of Nigeria or Saudi Arabia? Or the oil in Arctic regions? How about your copper from the mines of Arizona? Or the gold to run your electronic devices and other things? I could list many other commodities that you rely on that come from these Desert regions or regions with little access to fresh water. Do you know why people started moving there, because people in regions next to water did not have the request resources while those in regions without water did. It was a mutually beneficial trade of resources, but people forget why others move to the regions they do.
You militant stance on the issue is one problem with America today, you have let the statist doctrine so win you over that any attempt at solving the problem through voluntary action you resist and declare 'capitalistic' as if somehow the system (however hobbled the free market is in modern times) that brought you the wealth and freedom you have today is responsible for the evils that the state creates.---
Please do not construe this conversation to make it look like I am the one advocating forcing people to or not to buy something, when you are the one advocating government restriction of trade between two parties.
You said: "Democracies force people NOT to sell things all the time"
The problem with Democracy is that A, B, and C can vote to restrict (force) D and E from trading with each other, even if D and E do not trade with A, B, or C. Democracy is mob rule, by which people find a big enough group of people sharing their sentiments, then take a vote to force others to come in line with those sentiments, e.g. banning the sale of certain drugs even for medical use even if they have been proven not to be harmful if taken properly. Just because it is illegal does not mean that is it bad, it just means you got a bigger mob to outlaw me and others from doing things you do not consider 'proper'. Do you think banning something will somehow make it go away? On the contrary, it just forces the price upward and makes that particular product a more lucrative business to enter into, and has been seen causes criminal elements to enter were they would not have otherwise.
You said: "It sounds like your beef is with the concept of contraban items. That, of course, is a different conversation."
My issue is not contraband items, do not misconstrue my words when I did not mention a single contraband in any of my post. My issue is a group of people, who may or may not be a majority, banning others from selling items to each other even if it causes no harm to those group of people. You, your representative and those who are in your camp think that your proximity to the Great Lakes automatically makes the use or non-use of them strictly your affair, whether or not others in the region want to sell some of the water.
You said previously:
"Look. You live in Nevada? New Mexico? Arizona? Guess what? You SETTLED IN A DESERT! IN A DESERT!!! The THING about a desert is, there's NO WATER THERE. And as those regions' populations explode, they're eying up our Lake for water. Suddenly their environmental engineers had a stark realization that there's not enough water IN THE DESERT to sustain a huge city."
Then said: "Arizona has been FANTASTIC with water conservation."
You realize that there is enough water in many desert states to maintain a population of a huge city, if only it is priced and used wisely, even though before you stated otherwise. You fearmongered before, erected a straw man argument even when the fact do not support you, and seemed you hoped not to be found out. I will not discuss this part further - fearmongering, militant stances, non-negotiable issues and other tactics are loved by the statist.
You said: "This is really simple. We're not selling the water."
More specifically, you and your constituents are not selling water so you want to force others in your region from doing so because you believe you know what is best for them. Why not allocate certian percentage of the river to each citizen, then they can sell their alloted gallons or not sell them. By that method we will truly know whether your claims are valid or not and whether you and your constituents should be able to ban the sale of Great Lake water.
You said: "P.S. Arizona can keep its copper. We gots plenty in the UP. But I would like some of that delicious creosote tea. Mmm...but you don't HAVE to sell it to me."
Right, Arizona does not, but that does not mean Arizonans should be able to ban the selling of the tea between a citizen of Arizona and a citizen of the Great Lake region. On the other hand you are saying that those in the Great Lake region should not even be able to sell their commodity (water in this case) to those in other regions, in other words forcing others to not even have the option to sell.
Have you ever considered what would have happened to other commodities and their conservation and use if property rights surrounding them had not been made and properly defined? Oil would have been extracted and exploited more quickly, the forest of the United States would have been deforested and various other resources would have been depleted more quickly, as often happens with mispriced commodities.---
I am sorry, but I will point out some factual errors you made, while also giving my thoughts on how to solve the issue.
You said: "You could put Scotland AND Arizona INSIDE the great lakes and still have room to swim around."
The Great Lakes cover about 94,250 square miles while Arizona alone is 113,634.57 sq mi. Your statement is incorrect. (Sources: http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/factsheet.html
You said: "The thing is...people who don't live near the Great Lakes, don't know anything about them, they don't know the size of them, they don't know they're used for shipping, they don't know there's commercial fishing, and they don't know how threatened they are."
I know full well the problem facing the Great Lakes. At the same time there is a dire problem facing the use of the Colorado River by California, Nevada and Arizona. You do not have to live near a geographic region to know its problems - you can visit there, have friends or family there, read about it and learn about the problems. Most people know about the shipping in Great Lakes and the fishing that is done there. Many also know about the problems facing many lakes, in that they are not being used properly and are losing water.
You said: "Once it's out of the water basin it's gone forever, and the water levels are PERMANENTLY lower."
Water levels are not permanently lowered because various natural and human factors keep water running into the lakes. Example, the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions bring water into Lake Superior from sources that once flowed into James Bay. They were constructed for hydropower generation and logging. For one article on this look at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/WATER/en/nature/lakes/e_levels.htm
Notice how when property and business is at stake people find ways to save natural resources they otherwise would not? People will do amazing things to secure their natural resources in a non-militant way, using capital investments and other methods to ensure that their renewable natural resources stays that way.
I stated: "Why not allocate certian percentage of the river to each citizen, then they can sell their alloted gallons or not sell them. By that method we will truly know whether your claims are valid or not and whether you and your constituents should be able to ban the sale of Great Lake water."
Using this method, it would be in the interest of all in the region to keep the water from flowing out to rapidly, whether that be into the ocean or by selling it to others outside the region. It would also be in the interest of those in the region to build structures to replace lost water, since the less water in the lakes, the less water each person has for their own use.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with a quote. You seem to think that all the Southwest states think about is taking Great Lake water. Well, consider this:
"In 20 years of discussing and debating water issues at a national level, I've never once heard a utilities director in the South or West say one word about tapping Lake Erie for water," said Ciaccia, now head of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. "Those cities are more interested in water reclamation, re-use or even desalination than in coming to get our water."---
Are you even going to address my points and your factual errors?
You said: "Kostov seems to be coming back and back and back to the point that people shouldn't be restricted from selling something. For example, I should be able to dig out chunks of asphalt from the Interstate or pull down powerlines and sell the copper or asphalt to China, or hunt elephant seals and sell the meat to Korea."
Are you kidding me? Why do you keep misconstruing my words? Of course you can not sell something you do not own. I am only advocating that people be able to sell the water (or items) they own. That should be clear from my advocacy of a free market.
I recognize the issues and problems facing the Great Lakes. The problem is you have not even cited a single source where you are getting your 'facts' (as some of them have been inaccurate and wrong) from, which is of concern to me.
You said: "They just HOLD water. When you remove water from the water tables, it's gone forever."
Water will not drain out of the Great Lakes permanently, as I stated and cited in my previous post (source of on article from previous post: http://www.ec.gc.ca/WATER/en/nature/lakes/e_levels.htm
Did you not read my previous post? I pointed out that many of the states you have criticized for wanting to take your water have not interest in it and instead want to focus on water conversation, reclamation and other forms or reuse. With regards to long-distance water transport: "But as for long-distance water diversions: "It's not technically impossible, but it's also not economically feasible," Ciaccia said."
You said: "Mr. Kostov is making arguments against contraban"
I make arguments against others banning people they do not know and should not be interfering from dealing with themselves on property they own. You have created this contraband issue as an attempt to attack my character and make it look like I am advocating harming others and committing illegal activities that are meant to harm others.
You said: "You're well stocked with red herring, my good man."
Please address when and by what statements I have used red herring. I have not claimed you are using red herring arguments yet you attack me for doing so without pointing out which arguments I make are red herring diversions. My last post pointed out factual errors you made in your previous arguments, which I would hardly consider red herring since incorrect facts cause harm to a debate.
You said: "Mr. Kostov seems to be making larger grievances with Democracy. And to that...I don't care what his problem with Democracy is. That's another discussion."
I do make some grievances with Democracy when it violates people's right to their life. The issue at hand is not my grievances against Democracy, but how the people in the Great Lake region propose to ban others from doing something just because they are in the 'majority' (I am not sure whether you are or not).
You said: "Kostov is irritated by the old adage "posession is 9/10 of the law""
Should I even continue dissecting your post in which you attack my character at every chance?
You said: "Yes. Our proximity means the water loss affects us more. SO we should get more say."
How about the others in the region who want to sell some of the water, do they not also have a say?
You said: "people want to continue to INSULT"
Read my post, I call his stance militant, which it is since he seems to be willing to fight over the issue and is repeating the same fact over and over. It is not name calling, it would be akin to him calling me a free market man. I do not call him or regard him as an idiot, that is not how I debate since it is akin to pulling the Nazi card, it ends all debate and makes it worthless.
Robert J. Eletto,
You said: "Does anyone else think it's irresponsible to slowly etch away public control of water?"
Who is the public? If everyone owns the resource then who should control its use and allocation? I do not think it is irresponsible to etch away public control as long as it is done in a clearly defined manner, such as who gets what parts of the public property, how the sale of the public property will be organized, and various other aspects. There are many cases in which things in private control actually conserve resources better, since it is in the interest of the person owning the property to retain its value or increase its value.
The debate seems to have veered off from the original course of whether making water private would solve many of the problems associated with it today. From my post I have proposed methods of doing so that would benefit those in regions with little water or even regions with plenty of water. Many seem to be stuck in the mindset that water is 'public', without considering whether making water private would better help its allocation (as it does with oil, consumer products and other things) and use.---
You said: "Not selling the water. I get it. You think that's a bad idea. Noted."
You continue to not even read my post and understand what I am saying. I do not say you have to sell your water, only that the neighbor next to you should have the opportunity to sell his water if he wants to. Do you have the right to prevent your neighbors from selling what is there's? If no one in the Great Lake region wants to sell water, then I have no issue with that, as long as it is their water property and they are not preventing others in the region from selling their water.
I will end my discussion with you, as you have promptly ignored the various sources I have pointed out that contradict your claims and have not responded to any of my assertions, going so far as to call everything I have done, ""You're well stocked with red herring, my good man." If you believe the sources I cited and the logic I use to propose a system by which water will be used more wisely and properly since it will have a price on it is red herring, then I do not know what this whole debate was about. I believe it was about solutions to the growing water shortage issue. Thank you for taking the time to (I am beginning to doubt) read my posts. I will move onto other people in this comment section who will actually read what I have to say and respond to it.
As a last note, maybe this article will help you understand some ideas on how to converse natural resources: http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/publications/tech_briefs/7forestservices.pdf
I have some questions about your plan, where will the money come from and is the technology available to make the claims you made possible?
Would it not be likely that in creating a international body, politics will eventually come into play and people will fight over where the projects should start, who should get the first allocation of money, and other such issues?
It seems to me that had people placed a proper price on water, many of these issues would not be occurring now. Cotton is grown in Arizona when it could more effectively be grown elsewhere and use less water. Other various uses, such as people in the desert and other regions having large lawns to water, have not been exposed to the true cost of the water they are spending, so it is wasted. Take a automobile shop I was driving by recently. They had a fountain shooting out water around some of their cars, an unnecessary waste of water that would not occur had the water been price properly. I could go on, but I have already made several post dealing with the matter, it can be seen where I am going with this.