10 Aug 2010

Breaking news: Clean water for everyone!

How did this miracle occur?

The United Nations declared a human right to clean water, so everyone must have it, right?


Some people fight wars; others declare victory and go home.

Read this great analysis of this new right.

But seriously, folks... my paper on human rights and property rights was rejected by a journal this morning. These objections stand out:
[reviewer #3:] Giving masses of illiterate or semi-literate farmers in Third World countries salable rights to water, with sales to be managed by elaborate and sophisticate market structures, is just asking for massive fraud that will probably leave large numbers of such farmers devoid of both water and wealth.
Besides my explicit suggestion that farmers (and everyone!) be able to lease, but NOT sell, this reviewer also knows that governments are doing a good job for these illiterate farmers (and why are they illiterate?) -- a better job than they can do themselves.
[reviewer #4:] The paper is basically the anti-thesis to the current and emerging trend on water resources management world-wide. Legislation and policy on water resources world-wide are moving in the direction whereby water resources, both surface as well as groundwater, are owned, controlled, regulated and allocated by the state.
I can't wait for the politicians in Sacramento, Washington DC, and other political capitals to decide who, where, why, how and when water flows/sarcasm


  1. Though I often disagree with you, those are extraordinarily crappy reasons to reject a paper. They say nothing about the reasoning of the paper, itself.

    The first one is so paternalistic, I, I... I can't even begin to describe my feelings about it! The second one is just stupid. That first one... wow... racist, even - it's gotta be racist, too!

    What the H E double-hockey-sticks journal was this? Please don't be shy about it.

  2. The journal must be Political Correctness.
    I thought that being the antithesis of things that were not working was a good thing.
    What did I know?

  3. @Josh and Eric -- In their defense, they claimed that I did not prove that my system worked, and they cited "failures" of privatization as reasons to disbelieve in this program...

    If you REALLY want to read all the comments, email me :)

  4. JW emails: "Sorry to read about your paper being rejected.

    Paternalism seems like one of the worst crimes against humankind.

    I’m sure that more deaths are to blame because of paternalistic policies such as those instituted by the likes of Mao and Gandhi that were supposed to help the poor almost any other cause, though Stalin and Hitler did their best hurt more people on purpose.

    Just because someone is illiterate does not mean that they are not smart and cannot work in their own self interest.

    Both reviewers perpetuate destructive memes while you seek reasoned and tested explanations of behaviors and incentives. The reviewers are repeating “animal brain” responses that sound right or make sense if not examined.

    Shame on them."

  5. Wow! Reviewer #4 seems to have totally missed the point of a journal. Shouldn't journals seek out well reasoned arguments and ideas that are "basically the anti-thesis to the current and emerging trend"? Isn't the whole point of a journal to present ideas and information that are different from what everyone already "knows"?


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