OT: Environmental issues and solutions
Posted by montalvo on Thu, Sep 16, 10 at 0:53
prairiemoon, I don't subscribe to the naive notion that if I just do my part, all the problems of the world will take care of themselves. And I like to reflect on the fact that the US used to be the shining beacon of freedom, something most citizens and those overseas truly envied.
If the government concludes that our precious water supply is dwindling, then they should allow the market price of water to rise, fully reflecting its scarcity. That way everyone has the freedom to waste as much water as they wish (or can afford), so long as they're paying a price sufficient to ensure that the supply of water meets the demand for it. That's the beauty and magic of a free market. (BTW, lest you feel troubled by those who would die of thirst from higher water prices, recognize that a ten-fold rise in the cost of water would mean that the water required for a person to sustain themselves could still be had for less than ten dollars...PER YEAR!)
Now, on the subject of low flow toilets, the laws mandating them weren't solely prompted by water shortages but also (like the phosphate issue) by the cost of sewage treatment. But there again, the government has a freedom-preserving solution. They put a tax on water to pay for the increased expenses incurred in processing the growing volume of sewage. At some point, the cost of water will be sufficient to cause consumers to DEMAND low flow toilets. And people with dainty feces such as yourself will be early adopters while people who are full of crap (such as myself) will retain their water-guzzling toilets for the two decades it will take for manufacturers to develop truly efficient crappers (as they have now almost done). Of course, I'd have to pay the price for that in higher water bills...which is only fair. But I'd have the freedom to choose! A tax on phosphate detergents would similarly provide governments with the financial resources to treat the sewage while preserving the freedom of those who don't pre-wash their dishes to allow their dishwasher to do so, while also providing a financial incentive AND the time for soap manufacturers to develop EFFECTIVE phosphate-free detergents.
But regrettably, the government's instinctive reaction has become one which robs the public of an ability to make their own decisions. And that's a scary development in my mind, especially so when there are such easy alternatives that that solve the problems AND preserve our freedoms...and our conveniences. Unfortunately, such solutions require an understanding of economics, something which most Americans and ALL politicians are totally lacking.
You sound like a very civic-minded, responsible person who tries to do good. That's commendable...but, IMHO, it's not enough. You have to understand what doing good should and shouldn't entail. You have to look beyond the superficial implications and examine the farther-reaching consequences. And to do that, you have to have a strong foundation in economics.
I'll confess that my own understanding of economics was woefully inadequate for many years. I didn't get a good grounding until I returned to school to get my MBA and that's a sad commentary on our educational system (which is sorely in need of economically rational changes!). I think you'd be amazed at how much more efficient and effective our society could be in addressing many of our most vexing problems if you could see them analyzed through the lens of economic analysis. (Wanna see how the current economic problems could get resolved...efficiently? Subscribe to the newsletter from johnmauldin.com...it's free. His last two issues were very sobering.)
OK, that's my last harangue. I'm sorry if I trampled too clumsily on your sensitivities. May all your dishes come out spotless!