Think tank pounds its bungstarter and releases torrent of common sense

From the warehouse-sized where-have-I-heard-that-before department comes a piece in The Wall Street Journal by a couple of bean counters for the usually reliably liberal Brookings Institution suggesting that the socialistic means of water distribution doesn’t work.

The writers point out:

“Traditional solutions — diverting more water from rivers, building new reservoirs or drilling additional groundwater wells — are no longer ways to substantially increase the water supply. In a new report for The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, we, along with co-author Peter W. Culp, propose that states use market tools to promote water trading. That is, farmers or other users who reduce their consumption should be allowed to lease or sell the conserved water.

“A major overhaul of Western water law is overdue, but implementing such reform would take years. In the near term, states should authorize short-term leases of water, build basic market institutions, deploy risk-mitigation tools such as dry-year options, and implement basic controls such as regulating how much water can be pumped. The current absence of viable market opportunities and incentives is producing perverse results.”

In November 2011 in a column that has long since disappeared into the ether, I suggested that the best way to allot water was through a free market.

I, of course, quoted Thomas Sowell’s comments from his book “Basic Economics”:

“There is no need for government officials to decide arbitrarily — and categorically — whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for particular crops to be grown in California with water artificially supplied below cost form federal irrigation projects. Such questions can be decided incrementally, by those directly confronting the alternatives, through price competition in a free market.”

Other commentary on this topic:

When it comes to water no one dares speak about free markets and cost competition

Stop thinking of water as a communal property, but as a marketable commodity

Just say no to the rural groundwater grab, once and for all

Nobody seems willing to address the one solution for making water available along the Colorado River

Commentary: Open market would solve water shortage problem

Water grab: The laws of economics trump the state and federal lawful approval

Let them drink whiskey — further blathering on water distribution

In that last one I quote Murray Rothbard, one-time UNLV professor of economics:

“If the government wants to conserve water and lessen its use, all it need do is raise the price. It doesn’t have to order an end to this or that use, set priorities, or decide who should be allowed to drink more than three glasses a day. All it has to do is clear the market, and let people conserve each in his own way and at his own pace.

“In the longer run, what the government should do is privatize the water supply, and let water be supplied, like oil or Pepsi-Cola, by private firms trying to make a profit and to satisfy and court consumers, and not to gain power by making them suffer.”

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Click to enlarge


5 comments on “Think tank pounds its bungstarter and releases torrent of common sense

  1. Rincon says:

    Being a renewable commodity, water is ideally suited for the free market – as long as the cost of depleting aquifers is properly computed and paid for..

  2. nyp says:

    Very good piece on health reform after one year — where it has met, exceeded or fallen short of its goals:

  3. Robert says:

    UNLV Nuclear Physicist Dr. Denis Beller and many others have suggested for many years that small nuclear reactors could be remotely installed and dedicated for seawater purification plants. The the pure water would be piped to where it is needed and the salt refined into needed minerals. Such a concept could solve many water shortages within hundreds of miles of coastal areas, large rivers, and then release internal water resources to broader distributions like desert and farming areas.

    The result would produce low cost, pure water from seawater using recycled nuclear waste for reactor fuel. While that is a very simplistic description, and there are many alternative, small reactor designs, the following links shows some advanced concepts. Small nuclear reactors could provide the very cheap power needed for isolated installations while keeping the desalinization processing and distribution costs low.

  4. Athos says:

    Oh Robert! There you go making more common sense (and to a government that only wants no middle class. Just poor people (serfs) and power!)

    Wake up, America!

  5. Rincon says:

    I suppose smaller, more remote reactors would be cheaper than the ridiculously expensive nuclear power we have today, because we wouldn’t have to have all of those stupid safety measures in place. If one of them goes, it’s all a wasteland anyway, so no harm done. I’m sure the environmentalists will go along as long as we can start burying our nuclear waste in Nevada. Think of the tax dollars!

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