Monday, July 19, 2010

The Right to Water - Departing from Norm

He posts somewhat minimally on this, even counting for his link.
I am not sure we can prescribe a right to a scarce resource; if it starts to run out how exactly are we supposed to make sure everyone gets it?
This is not like the right of free speech, or the right not to be arbitrarily beaten up by police. It is something quite different. These examples simply require our governments not to bugger around engaged in useless activity.
The 'right to water' is mostly a rhetorical device. Almost all the major distortions in water distribution are the products of governments - California's deep subsidies to Central Valley farmers are a great example.
As for me, I suspect pricing water seriously is the right thing to do when it becomes scarce (misallocation by governments is the usual problem). I know for sure this is not what the very dim Maude Barlow means by such a right. I am not sure Norm knows much about Barlow.
So look - I think it is a good idea that everyone have all the water he or she watns or needs, that this is not practical as an objective, and that we need a mechanism to do the allocation; I also think it is much more practical to use market and pricing mechanisms than government allocations, and that if this is a problem for whatever local poor people, we just find a way to give them more money. We are really good at redistribution. We are really crppy at what Maude Barlow aches to do - stand above the world and allocate according to her wishes.
I am distressed that Norm implicitly endorses thios dork of a woman.
Far better to go read David Zetland.
I would be thrilled to be proven wrong on any of this.


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