7 Jun 2011

Speed blogging

  • Git yer discursives ready! "This special issue will focus explicitly on instances of “water grabbing”, where powerful actors are able to reallocate to their own benefits water resources already used by local communities or feeding aquatic ecosystems on which their livelihoods are based, as well as processes of contestation and resistance." Abstracts due 30 June.

  • More details on China's move to "full stupid" in shifting water to the North (can someone tell them about the demand side?) Don't listen to me. Listen to Jim Rogers (a partner of George Soros), who says that China's number one problem will be water.

  • Jamie Workman explains the death spiral -- "If you voluntarily reduce use I must protect my revenues by punishing you with higher rates per unit" -- and how to escape it.

  • The 2010 Water Integrity Network report on corruption in the water sector covers 13 countries and appears to be stakeholder- and milestone- driven. Does it accomplish anything? In totally related news, there's Water and Sanitation Services in Europe: Do Legal Frameworks provide for "Good Governance"?. Someone needs to compare the findings of these two reports!

  • Spanish farmers are taking desalinated water and public subsidies and STILL overdrafting groundwater. Why? "agricultural usage continues to rise, driven by increased cultivation of thirsty crops and inefficient irrigation practices encouraged by access to virtually free water resources."
H/Ts to DL, RO and JWT


The Pasadena Pundit said...

James Workman's model of how to solve water pricing is a sham and a con. It pretends to solve the problem of water conservation through pseudo-markets that are nothing but a wealth transfer and another tax that won't lead to any less use of water. Markets are mechanism to find the lowest price not the highest price as Workman pretends.

This is the same con that has been proposed by California Senate Bill 535 (de Leon-D, Los Angeles) that would allocate the revenues raised under the state's mandatory climate change law (AB 32) to a California Communities Healthy Air Revitalization Trust to purportedly reduce greenhouse gases in low income communities. It is nothing of the sort. It is highway robbery from the rich and a wealth transfer to the poor.

The whole point of such ruses are to mystify what is going on and call them markets. I can see a Prop 13 soon emerging against AB 32.

Jamie Workman said...

O curse the bright light of this blog for exposing my nefarious agenda for the con and sham that of course it is.
I thought under the cover of our leftist comrade Zetland I might sneak past the guardians of truth. But alas, I have been caught in my own sinister web of deceit, and must confess as to my REAL motives.
It is true, my agenda all along has from the start been a collectivist transfer of wealth to the lazy-ass poor from the hardscrabble affluent who always pay fair market value for their water so -- oh, wait, I forgot. There is no fair market value of water because, um, there is no market.
Hmmm. Well gosh, this is awkward. Okay, but still...back to confession.
It is true that my "ruse to mystify what is going on" MAY in fact affect what people pay for water, since it would reveal the scarcity value of a constrained resource as willing sellers and willing buyers negotiate the price and -- oh, wait, damn. I forgot again. There is no "price" of water or energy because there are no "willing buyers" or "willing sellers" in any utility. There's only "rates" that are unilaterally imposed on us without our ability to negotiate and which are subsidized by the utility for short term political gain at the expense of nature and future generations and those of us who are not yet in a position to whisper quietly in the regulator's ear or contribute silently to his or her reelection campaign.
One more confession....I must have known that water and energy markets invariably have the effect of raising prices vs. lowering prices, of transferring wealth or rewarding innovation, of protecting habitats or disrupting entrenched interests or all of the above?
Oh, dang. Unlike Pasadena Pundit, I'm afraid I don't have a monopoly on the truth. But then, I am reminded that nature abhors monopolies everywhere, whether in water or energy allocation, or in blogs.
I must confess, finally, that markets DO mean many things to many people... and that is exactly the flippin' point. A market allows MANY people to decide exactly what the meaning and value of something like water or energy really is.
And that, perhaps, suggests why markets are so feared by those privileged few on the Left and the Right who apparently know better than anyone else what will happen and what is right for us all and who enjoy so contentedly the status quo of our aquatic and ergonomic aristocracy that has served the world so well for so long and will, no doubt, continue to save us from our ignorant selves.
Phew. I feel liberated now that the truth is out. Thank you, Pasadena Pundit, for relieving the terrible burden of my mendacity, my ruse, my con, my sham.

Madeconomist said...

I think that there may be several problems with Mr. Workman's market concept. I read through his essay and tried to follow it, and I think I sort of understand it. But that's kind of one of the problems. Markets should be simple enough that the idiots like me that are supposed to use them can understand what we're doing. Otherwise, I'll have the nagging feeling that I'm always getting fleeced, just like with the current monopolies.
One thing about markets is that the best ones are organic (a concept I am borrowing from my limited knowledge of F. A. Hayek) and not designed by someone to reach a pre-determined outcome.
Mr. Workman thinks that conservation and higher prices is a good thing, so he designs a mechanism with incentives that he thinks will achieve that goal. That's his preference, but that's all it is. An organic market does not assign a higher value to someone's particular preferences. But perhaps I misunderstand what Mr. Workman's model is all about.
What I would like is to end all sorts of artificial prices, whether they be artificially low or artificially high, so I am encouraged that people are thinking about ways to bring market forces to bear on monopolies that are considered utilities. Ultimately, the goal should be to end monopolies and have multiple suppliers, with clearly defined property rights, competing for customers. One way I think this is possible is to separate the infrastructure aspect from the production and marketing aspects of so-called utilities.
It may be when monopolies are ended that prices will be higher and consumption less, then again it may not. I'll be happy either way as long the markets for these goods are straightforward and easy for me to understand.

Rich Mills

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