30 Jan 2012

Poll results -- food, energy and water

Hey! There's a new poll -- persuasion -- on the right sidebar (maybe I should have made it YOU instead of "people") ===>

Which of these areas needs MORE government involvement
Food 15%12
Energy 35%28
Water 51%41
81 votes total

So this was a trick question, in a way.

First I think that the government already plays a smaller role in Food and Energy that government. More interesting is voters' response that the government needs to play a bigger role. Where does that come from? Environmental flows? Irrigation? Tap water prices?

Bottom Line: I can probably trace 75% of water problems to one government idea or another. That said, I understand the need to coordinate, regulate, etc. But that "minimum government" rule is often exceeded in negative outcomes from government programs (e.g., subsidy to agriculture). What's needed is some simplification of government programs so they can more useful.


Jay said...

I abstained from the question because it was an obvious trick question and it provided false choices.

I would have liked to have had an option asking which of the areas needed LESS government involvement, or DIFFERENT governemnt involvement.

I think they all need different involvement, if not less involvement. (That does not mean I advocate NO involvement.)

Anonymous said...

Well it seems that the historical development of water resources is important, in order to understand why people voted for more government in the water sector, rather than food or energy which, superficially have enjoyed a more privatized system.

Especially in the West, water use for pretty much every beneficial use, required some form of diversion which, generally required some agreement among land owners, as well as backing from the law. Diversion was a necessary action and establishment, in order for a water right to exist at all. Years and years of conditioning and a set of laws established to protect down stream users, have caused people to depend heavily on government to delegate and manage water resources. Because of intricate diversion and distribution systems achieving a fair and equal opportunity distribution system required a institution. We have deeply rooted infrastructure systems which are government funded and operated which society depends upon today to persist. That familiar face is "Government."

In a survey conducted by ITT, people still hold government as the seat of water resource management, distribution and allocation and believe that it is the government's responsibility to provide a solution to the up coming water crisis. However, there is a strong belief (80% voters and 84% business) that there needs to be reform in water infrastructure and management. We as a society have been conditioned by the paradigm of institutionalization. For the lack of a well established private institution which, could provide the security and cooperation for equal opportunity in water allocation,(water banking systems)people choose government. Popular belief requires the security and cooperation that institutionalization symbolizes (in the spirit of democracy), therefore in order for reform to come from the private sector these institutions will have to be characterized and introduced to the public as capable of providing a rational solution. The corporation and private business has recently been painted as tyrannical, greedy and inhumane (Blue Gold, Tapped, Flow). These depictions are narrow in scope and lack breadth in perspective, not to mention the poor context in which private industry is portrayed to solutions to water distribution. To any society which is well established and developed the services that these institutions could provide would be called a rational system.

My question is how to introduce the institutions (water banking) which could provide a rational solution to today's water crisis to a people who have adapted certain false perceptions about private institutions when it comes to water?

Is water really something so sacred that we do not have any rational tools to value it deliberately and consciously? Do we the people hold certain beliefs which, are not rational or based in reality, which, cause us to reject considering how a well-formed institution could provide a system to make voluntary, rational judgments? If people believe that we need reform then why do they look for solutions from the source of the problem the leaky pool of bureaucracy?

ITT Value of Water Survey


mac said...

unsurprising result. selection bias in action -> water blog, people pick Water.

I didnt vote, as it was a 'trick question' and because one could argue the issue might be 'which areas need MORE market influence'

David Zetland said...

@jay and mac -- yes, there was a bias, but I put the question that way because I run into many activists (Berlin, Rio+20, to name one) who fight over where to put MORE attention...

@Anon -- Your statement ("For the lack of a well established private institution which, could provide the security and cooperation for equal opportunity in water allocation,(water banking systems)people choose government.") reveals the circular reasoning of some people: govt needs to be in water b/c govt is in water. (This is, needless to say, the position of politicians.) Where and how can we get more market-based water institutions? Perhaps by looking abroad for examples (Australia, England, France, China, etc.), but also by putting more market mechanisms in place of command and control regimes (e.g., internal water markets for irrigation districts or price rationing for urban water). I'm working on it!

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