This week we’ve gotten two very nice examples of the same argument. The full argument goes as follows, although these examples have skipped to the third point:
- Around here, the existing order of things is to shit on the poor.
- When there are fewer resources, rich people at the top naturally keep what they have, which forces us middlemen to shit on the poor even more.
- Why, oh environmentalists, are you forcing us to shit on the poor even more [by restricting access to resources]? I thought you liked the poor, you liberal hypocrites.
The sucker’s response is to try to engage the third point. The real dispute is properly in the first or second point, invoking a different world, one that school superintendents and county supervisors should have the intellectual capacity and imagination to create. In that world, school superintendents or county supervisors could throw the weight of their elected offices into grant applications to the State Board’s water quality grants. It isn’t like the rich residents of Cantua Creek are inherently opposed to receiving government money. Or perhaps the irrigated farmland of Stanislaus and Merced shouldn’t be the fixed constraint, forcing the brunt of the groundwater loss onto poor schoolchildren. Given that less water and a poorer society is our future, now is a good time for local elected officials to practice finding ways to distribute the predictable shortfalls that don’t fall on the poor.
Note: Do watch County Supervisor Mendes shouting at citizens in a public county supervisors’ meeting, if you will. Of the two primary participants, one is emotionally uncontrolled, shouting at more vulnerable people based on abstract political beliefs. The other is calmly referring to a study, trying to empathize, and sticking to the direct facts of the situation. It is a shame the unhinged one is the one with power. I’d love to see that switched.
MORE NOTE: It took me a couple hours after writing the first draft to realize that Supervisor Mendes’ shouldn’t be invoking this argument in the first place. He is livid, shouting at Ms. Jagannath because he has wrongly connected Cantua City and El Porvenir’s water problems to Westlands WD’s supply limitations. If I understood the news story correctly, Cantua City and El Porvenir have enough water. They pay $110/month for it, although it is too polluted to drink or cook with. What they don’t have and can’t afford is water treatment. Their resource restriction is ‘additional money to pay for water treatment’, not water itself.
To recap, Supervisor Mendes is sufficiently enraged by a different political matter that he:
- Isn’t paying attention to which issue is in front of him;
- Evidently doesn’t know of the existing study addressing the water treatment options of Cantua City and El Porvenir. Was that done by his county’s own public works department? He doesn’t know or care.
- Lost all professional demeanor and shouted at the constituents before him, including personal abuse, on camera.
Small wonder he is too ashamed to watch the footage of the meeting he chaired. How terrible that his constituents know they risk being treated this way when they bring their issues to him.
7 responses to “I am more impressed with Ms. Jagannath’s work every time I see it.”
I love your opinions. Honest, very straight forward, and funny or humbling. I want you to come and help us. We want to go blow up that world of bullshit, and we just might have the technology, people, and capital to do it.
I don’t need to know who you are for a long time, but I’d love to go back and forth for a while to see if there isn’t something we could do together. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I smile everytime your column shows up in my email…:-)
That was amazing. I’m forwarding it to Felicia and my fellow regionalboard members.
Just wanted to say I love you. Thanks.
Ms. Jagannath’s points are very clear and hard to argue with – just the kind that drive people like Mr. Mendes crazy…
There is no reason why Mr. Mendes sit in a position where he is ‘representing’ the hardworking farmworker families of the West Side of Fresno County, my home, or any part of the region! He must be replaced!
Thank you for yet another enlightening story. Mr. Mendes doesn’t represent anyone other than Westlands Water District, and they couldn’t care less about any other of their ratepayers than the large agribusinesses they work for.
There is much to dislike about Westlands Water District, but they are not really a villain here. The water provided to these small unincorporated communities is the same water that flows south in the California Aqueduct to become drinking water for Los Angeles.
The way it becomes contaminated is described below. The real story here is one of meeting increasingly stringent drinking water standards and the economics of how many customers there are to divide the capital costs.
Safe drinking water is technically feasible. The question becomes whether society wants to provide yet another subsidy to this area of endless subsidy.
I suspect the answer is yes, but I yearn for the omnipotent political messiah (not Trump!) who will say, “Make plans for leaving this area because we are going to end irrigation here so we can save the rest of the State of California.”
1) Water can contain bad viruses and bacteria. Cholera is not good. Chlorine has been used for decades to kill viruses.
2) Water can contain perfectly harmless organic material, like algae and decaying leaves. Unfortunately, the chlorine that is killing harmful bacteria reacts with harmless organic material to form a class of chemical compounds called THM’s. We have become aware that THM’s are bad to drink, although they are okay for bathing and other household uses.
3) Unfortunately, the nature of the Sacramento Delta is that many (harmless, until chlorine reacts with it) organic materials are released into the water.
4) Large municipalities have turned to alternative treatment methods like ozonation, chloramine instead of just chlorine, and carbon filtration. The larger cities can spread out the capital costs over more customers.
5) Smaller places must look at the economics of treatment vs bottled water trucked in from elsewhere.