Water Wrongs

Last Call at the Oasis is a slickly produced but conventionally liberal documentary about the world’s ongoing “water crisis.” The movie spends considerable time and effort trying to convince viewers that water access is a problem, across the globe but also in the United States. 

Proposed solutions, however, are in short supply. Pacific Institute hydroclimatologist Peter Gleick argues that it’s wrong for California to pursue fixes that might harm a common fish but fails to explain why. Any solutions that do not come directly from the standard progressive playbook are summarily rejected. 

Where property rights and privatization are mentioned, it’s only to dismiss them. Market pricing for water—traditionally a very useful way to ration valuable things we don’t want to waste—goes unmentioned, as do decades of labyrinthine state-level distribution rules, waste-encouraging subsidies, and pricing controls that have contributed to water shortages in the American West. —Peter Suderman

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