26.3.18

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE, VOX.

Access to clean water is a basic human right.  Yes, for anyone who has a rain barrel.  When the clean water makes use of expensive treatment plants and pipelines, it makes more sense to view it as a commodity.

Unless you write for Vox, where you can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
After World War II, America went on something of an infrastructure kick, building an expansive network of water pipes in cities across the country. But now these pipes are more than 60 years old and in many instances are in desperate need of repair.
That "infrastructure kick?" The victory dividend resource curse. Desperate need? Political spin for "this is something I want, and I want somebody else to pay for it."

That's not, however, how those European social democracies, you know, those shining examples of how to do governance right, roll.
Tracy Mehan, executive director of government affairs at [the American Water Works Association (yep, even trade associations of government agencies engage in rent-seeking)], has pushed for an increase in federal funding but says we can’t avoid higher water rates. “We’ve coasted for decades in most places around the country. Our rates are half that of northern European cities,” he said. “Rates are going up and need to go up.”
That might also encourage conservation, or perhaps migration. Look at the Vox map.  A number of "high risk tracts" where people might be losing their affordable water are in deserts, for crying out loud.

There's a concept in public utility pricing called lifeline rates, under which the first block of consumption bears a lower price than additional blocks.  Perhaps that principle, used generally, might do more to change the behavior of golf courses in Arizona or California than all the moral suasion.

No comments: