I’ll show you daring.

You know what?  Screw that.  Levine’s not some big radical on the water blogs.  What is Levine talking about anyway, a powerful cabal of billionaire farmers?  That’s conventional wisdom in California.  That’s baby talk for amateurs who watched Chinatown and read Reisner.  You want to know who’s saying really revolutionary shit that will up-end people’s lives?  Me.  I made a list, from least to most controversial.

Less controversial, but often goes unsaid:

We should save fish species because ending a species is morally wrong.  If the cost includes the end of some human lifestyles, then we should still pay that cost.

My faction is part of the problem and should pay for that part of the solution.

DWR should follow the fucking law and write EIS/EIRs for its programs before it does them.

California’s water rights system is massively unjust for current citizens.  Some people are awarded huge wealth by historical chance; others who are no less worthy as citizens and people are expected to pay the winners for any additional water supply.

Trade-offs should be explicit, and not left undefined.  The reader may prefer the other side of the trade-off, so it shouldn’t be hinted at darkly or left as an unconscious assumption.

A process-based objection is not proof that the policy that resulted from the process is wrong.

If an enterprise is not profitable once it has internalized its environmental and social externalities, it is an ongoing loss to society and shouldn’t exist.

Medium controversial:

Society as a whole will become poorer; at the same time, the costs of everything ecosystem-based will rise sharply.  People will be herded in from the exurbs and suburbs by the cost of everything.

Agriculture will substantially contract due to lack of water.  The ballsy part here is that I actually estimate an amount of three million acres, down from 9 million.   I predict the lost acreage will be from the west side, the Delta and most lands currently in alfalfa.

People will live in smaller places and eat less meat, because meat will become very expensive.

A market should be designed to do something, accomplish a goal that is bigger than existing as a market.

Subsidies themselves are not inherently bad.  Subsidies become bad when society shifts away from the goals they continue to promote.

Very controversial:

Local jurisdictions cannot be relied upon to work against narrow self-interest.  Where those conflict, a larger entity should compel them to act (to maintain, upgrade or move infrastructure), at their expense.

The ecosystem based part of our economy will contract for the next hundred years (at least).  We shouldn’t look for the gains of growth economies to lift us painlessly out of recession.

We could select and plan for a pleasant future; we could choose a transition that minimizes the pain of shrinking.  We are in the realm of minimizing pain, not expanding to additional consumption.

Population planning should be part of that transition.

Some of our dilemmas do not have win-win solutions.  The better choice for the whole state should be implemented even when there are people who are made substantially worse off.  (This is a taboo notion in a lot of state processes.  They simply dwindle to a stop when they can’t find win-win solutions.  We tactfully don’t mention the program again.  Four years later, the same problem generates a new program that won’t be able to do anything so long as no one can be made worse off.)

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “I’ll show you daring.

  1. Fucking brilliant.

  2. Will you re-title this your water manifesto?

    It has this one beat.

  3. onthepublicrecord

    True, that other one is kinda dull. Too earnest.

  4. Great stuff. I may have more to say at some point, but right now I just want to register my general approval.

  5. onthepublicrecord

    Thanks. I aim to get it exactly right.

  6. Good stuff, onthepublicrecord, whoever you are! :)

  7. Mr. Kurtz

    Boy, the organic growers are sure screwed if your alfalfa prediction is correct. Other than manure from confined animal production facilities (which is going to become pretty scarce regardless) alfalfa is their only source of N. Yeah, there’s seaweed, but it has lots of issues of its own. Maybe the Bureau can go into the fish-meal business with all the millions of salmon they are supposed to be grinding up.

    Your list has a lot of food for thought in it. While I may not agree with several of your theses, these are exactly the sorts of issues that should be put in front of the general public, instead of the pablum/poison stories they are being fed now.

  8. onthepublicrecord

    Well, my ideological bases show through, that’s for sure. Someone who starts from a different ideology would write a different list.

  9. Mr. Kurtz

    Maybe not so much a different list, as one that does not come with opinion-baggage attached to it, for instance:
    Instead of saying “California’s water rights system is massively unjust for current citizens. Some people are awarded huge wealth by historical chance; others who are no less worthy as citizens and people are expected to pay the winners for any additional water supply” how about “California’s water rights system evolved during a time of very different economic priorities and societal objectives. How do we transition to a system more in keeping with modern population trends and environmental concerns? Who should be the losers in this transition, and why?”

  10. onthepublicrecord

    Huh. I like it the way I wrote it.

  11. onthepublicrecord

    How’m I’m supposed to give Levine a run for his money with your version?

  12. Blake

    I concur with Emily. So much.

  13. No disagreement with most of your conclusions here. As I suspect you would admit, being unburdened as you are from public accountability as part of a frustrating system, as am I as an academic living in Canada, gives those who blog responsibly responsibility.

    You like to write, and beautifully so, about water conflict in its text/law/policy stage of public discourse. I am equipped and like to represent the implications of these conflicts in space/artifact/plan.

    Text, law and policy become space, plan, and design. I enjoy being optimistic, imagining how the promise of these conflicts might play out. More visuals to come.