Water, Water, Anywhere? Or: Please Don't Talk About the Price System


While I genuinely love the magazine The Week–it's a marvelously entertaining and efficient summation of what's happening and what's being said about what's happening in everything from world news to books to food (though, strangely, nothing about sports) and everyone should check it out –I regretfully have to call it out for a very curious lacuna in its recent coverage in its "briefing" section about a burgeoning American water crisis.

In over a thousand words about supposed horrific shortages developing in a commodity, there is not a single word about rising prices (UPDATE: especially in a system where government decisionmaking and subsidy has more to do with the price than free markets) as a conceivable means of encouraging less use of the supposedly disappearing commodity. I had hoped that general public consciousness about markets would mean that somewhere in a detailed public analysis about people's (and government entity's) consumption choices in whatever, price would come up, but I guess I was wrong.

And, while I'm practicing toughlove on my beloved The Week, the "briefing" section in the latest issue, on disappearing bees, repeats as fact the urban legend (according to Snopes , invented from whole cloth in 1994 by French beekeepers) about Einstein, that noted entomologist, saying that "If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years to live." Recent research has discovered, though, that Einstein was the first man to say "Gas, grass, or ass–no one rides for free." (And I always thought it was Lincoln. Guess I was wrong!)