In this issue: Water: When Reality Confronts Dogma, and "The Arts" Win Again!
By Dr. Michael Sanera
1. Raleigh's Water
System: Conservation dogma confronts fiscal reality
Raleigh's city council members have been on a quest to establish policies that
force water users to conserve. During the 2007-08 drought, they used fines to
enforce water conservation and actually shut down car washes, pressure-washing
businesses, and nurseries in order to reduce water consumption. They were not
concerned about the financial hardship they were imposing on hundreds of
The reason they opted for coercion was because it is the only tool in their
ideological toolbox. After the drought, the council adopted a tiered pricing
structure so that residential customers who use more water pay higher rates.
Again, conservation is the only goal of this fixed-rate structure. Shifting
from coercion to pricing is a step in the right direction, but the fixed
tiered-pricing structure cannot respond to fluctuations in supply or the need
to pay for the new water treatment plan and the replacement of the aging water infrastructure.
this article reports, if the tiered pricing structure is successful at
getting water users to conserve, revenue will go down, leaving the city unable
to pay the bonds for the new water treatment plant and thus having to raise
rates. Consumers who do what the city's conservation dogma demands would be
punished with higher rates.
The solution to this nonsense is to forget about conservation dogma and
establish a flexible rate system based on supply and demand. When water is
abundant, prices should be as low as possible and still pay for the operations
and maintenance of the system. When the area experiences a drought, prices
should rise in order to encourage conservation. When the drought subsides,
prices should return to the normal level.
This approach is simple in concept but difficult to implement because many
elected officials are ideologically blinded by the conservation dogma or are
politically dependent on environmental Luddites who refuse to accept economic
policies that work.
Elected officials who want to establish water pricing systems that will
withstand a drought should review the JLF report on "Drought-Resistant
Water: Variable prices can work better than mandatory restrictions."
Arts" are a core governmental function in Raleigh
article reports, the Raleigh city council has restored the city manager's
cuts to the arts budget for the third year in a row. I hate to toot my own
horn, but I predicted that result in the June 9 Local
The arts community usually gets its
way because city council members and arts community members are often part of
the same city elite. Thus council members are not only in tune with their
special-interest pleadings, they rub elbows with them at the same cocktail
parties, arts openings, etc. Even though most city council members are
wealthier than the average city taxpayer, they like the fact that taxpayers are
subsidizing their preferred form of entertainment.
With "the arts" atop Raleigh's priority list,
other needs, such as filling potholes, fighting crime, and cleaning up after
the tornado, will receive less attention.
Click here for the Local
Government Update archive.
Monday, Jul. 11th, 2011 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Dr. C. L. Gray
"The Battle for America's Soul"