08 Apr 2015

On the California Water Restrictions

Economics, Shameless Self-Promotion 14 Comments

Here I went off on a “US Uncut” poster about it, and below is my video.

14 Responses to “On the California Water Restrictions”

  1. S.C. says:

    One, there in a pretty bad drought. Two, they are not going to be “in your shower”.

    • Grane Peer says:

      One; California imports most of its water. Two; rain water harvesting is more heavily regulated than the porno industry. Three; what’s your point, tin pan?

    • Capt. J Parker says:

      Err, government is ALREADY in our showers via the Energy Policy Act of 1992. http://www.appropedia.org/1.6_GPM_or_less_low-flow_shower_heads

      • Anonymous says:

        No, it’s not.

      • Jan Masek says:

        Do you guys in the US also have regulations about maximum water flow from shower heads? I think, though not sure, that shower heads in the EU are limited as to how much water per minute can flow. Same thing for toilets.

    • guest says:

      There is no drought.

      Two words: Delta smelt:

      [Date uploaded: Jan 20, 2011, Speaker: Congressman Tom McClintock]
      Water, Water Everywhere…Except for California’s Farms

  2. Josiah says:

    Good title.

  3. Tel says:

    As an Australian I get hit with water restrictions continually. Recently they told us that the drought would never end because of Global Warming, and Warragamba Dam would never fill up again. The mere fact that the city consuming that water has been growing in population much faster than anyone expected and no new dams have been built for something like 50 years seems to be ignored.

    Thanks to the hand wringing about Global Warming they built an expensive desalination plant, to help keep electricity prices high.

    Anyhow, they were wrong, we got several years of good rain, the dam did fill up again, the desal plant has been a waste of money and we still have water restrictions. People seem to deal with it. It’s strange but there are even strict limits to the size of your rainwater tank as a way of discouraging people from collecting the rain off their own roof.

    I guess because we are a wealthy country people don’t care enough to ask questions about this stuff. Government has extraordinary influence around here.

    • Sam Geoghegan says:

      Yep. I’m an Australian too. We’re a nation of obsequious statists.
      The solution to everything lies in the realm of electoral politics.
      I’ve given up trying to talk to people about this topic.

  4. Tel says:

    Still yabbering about local issues: we recently had an election where the main two options were the Labor Party (mostly union related, not genuine working class but more a mix of lawyers and middle-management bureaucratic types who show concern for workers where appropriate) and the Liberal Party (nothing to do with American liberals, nothing to do with liberty either, they are the corporatists and supporters of big business).

    So one of the issues on the table was selling the electricity grid, probably to Chinese foreign buyers, as a going concern (i.e. selling existing monopoly rights along with the asset). This was a government built grid, with complete ban on competition, and then got declared “natural monopoly” despite there being nothing remotely natural about it. My feeling is there’s no point in pretending that a government monopoly is “private” just because they sold the rights. Structurally nothing has changed, and any monopoly has a strong incentive to jack up prices, especially on something like electricity that is difficult to live without.

    You can generate your own with solar cells, but those are expensive, crap and unreliable. Regulations will get you if you attempt to use any type of combustion generator, so you are stuck buying the monopoly product.

    Astoundingly, a lot of Australian conservative economists think this sell off is a great idea, mostly because they think the strong trade unions will be weakened by the new private owners (I doubt it, can’t see why that would happen).

    It does seem to be a deep behavioral economics question about price vs rationing. There’s probably scope for a prize in honour of blogging in honour of dynamite… or something.

  5. Capt. J Parker says:

    Ok, so, I know this really isn’t on point and I also know Bob Murphy has no desire to make a full time job of critiquing Krugman and his circle of statist buddies but, I have to point out that part of the reason why the public lets the government get away with nonsense like declaring water a special commodity that can only be supplied by central planned shortages and rationing is that we have economists like Brad DeLong promulgating stuff like this:


    Which contains head-scratchers like this:

    “Market economies are supposed to be in the business of producing things that households want whenever that can be done cheaply. Government debt fits the bill, especially now.”

    Yup, look what a great job California is doing with water. Stable prices and all you have to do is follow the nice governors instructions (or else.) Clearly a model that should be applied to a whole raft of goods and services, especially now since government can borrow its f make that start-up capital so cheaply.

    • Tel says:

      That fact strongly suggests that North Atlantic economies throughout the entire 20th Century suffered from a form of dynamic inefficiency, in that there was excessive accumulation of societal wealth in the form of net government capital—in other words, government debt was too low. Given the debt secured by government-held social wealth ought to be a close substitute in investors portfolios with debt secured by private capital formation, it is very difficult to understand how economies can be dynamically efficient with respect to private capital and dynamically inefficient with respect to government-held societal wealth in the absence of truly mammoth financial market failures.

      My submission for this year’s complete gibberish award (economics division).

      Yay random thesis generator.

  6. Harold says:

    A substantial amount of domestic water is not metered in California. Farmers do pay for their water. This is a very good reason to exempt farms, but to restrict domestic users. At least this has introduced me to a new volume unit, the acre foot – a box with dimensions of 1 chain x 1 furlong x 1 foot. Quite a sensible unit for these resources, at just over 1000 m3. Prices are about 10 times higher than usual at about $1000 to $2000 per acre foot, or about $1 / m3. At this price it is worth some rice farmers selling their water (or water allocation) to other farmers, so there is a market in agricultural water, although I am sure it is heavily restricted.

  7. Kevin Erdmann says:

    I loved the catapult analogy. Hilarious.

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