Gov. Jerry Brown Mandates Water-Use Rationing. Up Next: The Kids Will Meditate in School

Keep an eye out for the suede-denim police if you live in California!


I admit that this post is just a cheap excuse to post a link to the Dead Kennedys' great 1979 song, "California Uber Alles," which is set in a world in which then-Gov. Jerry Brown enforces a Zen-police-state in the Gold Rush State.

But there it is, draconian limits imposed on water use by everyday people:

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday imposed mandatory water restrictions for the first time on residents, businesses and farms, ordering cities and towns in the drought-ravaged state to reduce usage by 25%.

"This historic drought demands unprecedented action," Brown told reporters, standing on a patch of dry, brown grass in the Sierra Nevada mountains that is usually blanketed by up to 5 feet of snow….

"It's a different world," Brown said Wednesday. "We have to act differently."

While it's unlikely the Brown will, per the dark prophecy in "California Uber Alles," assume dictatorial powers and force "the kids to meditate in school" and commit mass murder via "organic poison gas," this is much is absolutely true: California doesn't have a water problem, they've a got a pricing problem. Water is a scarce commodity but it's not priced at anything like its actual price. The result is as troubling as it is predictable: Gallons upon gallons of water are wasted. As Reason's Brian Doherty, a LaLaLand resident himself, noted not long ago:

In my experience discussing this around Southern California, people are quick to demand rationing to be imposed on all, while all too slow to embrace the most sensible way to get people to care about the water they use/waste and to ration minus punitive laws: to price it more rationally. …

To too many people, "prices" are either voodoo or a means for the powerful to harm the less powerful. For those insisting on at least some accounting for "real need," lower prices for some understood (and necessarily somewhat arbitrary) amount of gallons for minimal drinking/cooking/bathing needs depending on number of people in the household and a much higher price for everything over that shouldn't be impossible in a world where water meters exist. 

But for certain things that people have decided you can't live without, the notion of a price mechanism seems to stir ancient feelings of taboo, and sense is flushed away. If you seem to be running out of anything, check your prices. 

More here.

Back in 2010, Jello Biafra, the frontman for the Dead Kennedys, who once upon a time mocked liberal pols such as Jerry Brown and Dianne Feinstein, walked back "California Uber Alles" because deep down he's a tool.

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  1. People need water to live! Like health care, water is a human right, not a property right!

    Capitalists, with their so-called “economics”, just want to deprive the people of their rights when they talk about “ownership” and “pricing” of water.

    1. If we leave important decisions like this up to “the market”, then no one will be able to get a pizza delivered to their gay wedding.

      1. If we take the Capitalism out of water, there will be unlimited free water, just like healthcare.


  2. This just in: Reason wants baths for the Koch brothers and no one else.

    1. The Kochs bathe in a giant vault filled with gold coins.

      No, they’d just buy the water and dump it out laughing at all the dehydrated poor people.

          1. That’s nothing!

            Literally nothing!

  3. Just mandate that cities fix their busted sprinklers and set the timers to “not high noon”.

    1. I noticed that I was driving the moving truck on 210 and the sprinkler were going at 3PM in July.

  4. Yeah, pricing…that’s the ticket. Of course, any suggestion here about putting a price on carbon (because there is a cost, just not a price), well, that’s just statist.

    1. It is if you think the “cost” is a ploy by the elite to scam people into paying for something unnecessarily.

      At any rate, the water fee is charged by the company or government body that incurs the cost of providing the water, to make them whole or make a profit. Unless you’re arguing that the state alone bears the cost of carbon, then it has no particular right to claim the proceeds from a carbon tax. At worst, if you did buy that it was an actual cost for people, and that the state was the only means of collecting it, you would still have to argue that whatever funds it collected would have to be distributed evenly to its citizens. Even there, it would be crudely compartmentalizing a global issue.

    2. Politically determined prices are the best prices.

      1. Why, I see no potential problems when you hand politicians the power to hand out free “credits”

        Also = Jackand can’t even keep up with his Ecosocialist peers, who (along with less socialist but equally leftist Europeans) announced the EU “carbon trading” program a retarded unmitigated disaster long ago

        we have but to look at the EU, and germany in particular, to see how most of the contemporary ideas of the green-left have worked in action, and they are without exception all screaming disasters that not only cost enormous sums and wasted massive effort, but actually in most cases produced counter-purposive results (like *increases* in the use of the dirtiest form of Coal) which most “capitalists” saw coming from miles away.

        try again

    3. There’s already a market price on carbon. Apparently you think the price is too low?

      If you want to ration carbon, you should be mandating an artificially LOW price and then you’ll have your lovely Venezuela-like market in carbon just like California has its Venezuela-like market in water coming soon.

      But I’m sure the masses will rationalize stealing Canada’s water as a moral solution. Shouldn’t be hard as they’ve already rationalized stealing Mexico’s water for decades.


      Pay up, sucker.

  5. A rational system would provide a reasonable amount of water per person at an affordable price, but then let the market set the price for higher use.

    A totally free market where almond trees get lots of water, but many citizens are unable to bathe or wash clothes would create political chaos.

    1. A rational system would provide a reasonable amount of water per person at an affordable price, but then let the market set the price for higher use.

      That’s kind of what they have now. It’s not working, presumably because the “affordable” price does not give anyone the incentive to use water more efficiently.

      A totally free market where almond trees get lots of water, but many citizens are unable to bathe or wash clothes would create political chaos.

      Surely our betters in the California Government are such angels that they will not ever even begin to imagine utilizing their new found water power to distribute the water unevenly, right?

      Never. They are perfect.

    2. A totally free market where almond trees get lots of water, but many citizens are unable to bathe or wash clothes would create political chaos.

      It would also create economic chaos, since the almonds on the open market wouldn’t bring anywhere close to what the water would bring on the open market under such a scenario.

      By the way, right now almond trees get lots of water, but many citizens in rural towns among the farms are unable to bathe or wash clothes because the water is not priced.

    3. Fad dieters need their almond milk!

    4. A rational system would provide a reasonable amount of water per person

      At least the poster admits that “ration” is his goal.

      It may be rational, it just intelligent.

      1. It just AIN’T intelligent.

    5. Only temporarily, as we can rely on dehydration to remove them from the market.

  6. I’m disappointed this article didn’t contain a single reference to Urinetown: The Musical.

    1. Oh shit, who did I go see that with…

  7. Brown should get some tips from Maduro in Venezuela.

  8. Insert Tom Sowell quote here.

    1. Could Moonbeam seriously not afford to keep a juco econ professor on retainer? Or is this the standard political ploy where the politician knows better, but does it anyway because of popular Caplanian prejudices?

      If I were an economics teacher in that ruined state, I’d be tempted to hoist the black flag and start slitting throats.

      1. Why go with a juco professor when you can get Paul Krugman, the God Of Economics? OK, he does charge more, but you get way more better and likeable economics from Krugman.

        1. I had a great economics professor in juco. He actually quoted Thomas Sowell a lot.

  9. The only thing great about California is porn, blondes, waves, and redwoods.

    Everything else is packed scruffy beaches, tired towns, constipated highways slithering through cities that stink with blood and old condoms, ancient forests you can’t pick a single flower from, and the multitude of rich dicks who perversely hate capitalism.

    1. Bullshit.

      We here in California are living in Reasontopia. So much sodomy, so many mexicans, so much weed… so little time.

      1. Speaking of sodomy…

        1. I’m sodomizing a Mexican while high on weed right now

          1. Not where I was going with that *cough* ELIZABETH WARREN *cough*, but I’m not particularly surprised by it.

        2. Preparation and cleanup will be tough with your water ration.

          1. We have metric fucktons of saline solution freely available.

            1. Clearly I need to hang around Reason more.

  10. Supply issue and a demand issue, this is basic economics.

    But the eco-frauds arn’t interested in that. They want to push supply down, not grow it, even though the state is. They have fought efforts to increase Shasta Dam, to build water desalination plants, to pump water flowing out the delta back into the state.

    Hell, they even want to “restore” Hetch Hetchy.

    We’ve chosen not to grow supply when demand is growing. It’s always the damn Capitalists’ fault, not the eco-frauds in government

  11. Too late. They’re already making kids meditate in school:…..-appealed/

    1. Again, the progs paved the way for this princess-and-the-pea level of sensitivity for anything even slightly smacking of religion – eg., moments of silence, referring to Christmas break as Christmas break, etc. Now they’re finding that you don’t have to a prog to play at that game.

      1. Progs love tests. There will be means testing and purity testing to make sure you are deemed worthy of playing the game.

  12. Ahem..its suede-denim secret police…thank you very much.

  13. Who could have predicted that diverting water 800 miles by socializing the costs wasn’t sustainable?

    1. This is why the state of Jefferson will never exist.

  14. “I admit that this post is just a cheap excuse to post a link to the Dead Kennedys’ great 1979 song”

    This is why Reasonoids are all old.

    1. Appealing to teh yutes, eh?

  15. In addition, Brown’s executive order will:

    — Impose significant cuts in water use on campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes.

    Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with “drought tolerant landscaping.”

    Talk about your Astroturf movement.

  16. Best closing sentence of any article. Ever.

  17. It’s so cool when the reason comment threads read more like progressive comment threads, all superior snark and no rationale or basis in reality.

    You don’t want to believe anything is changing in the climate, or that drought is real, or that despite CA trying voluntarism for water preservation it’s been a failure and the drought has persevered and worsened. What do you think is happening? Do you think that the market will cause water to materialize out of nowhere if demand exceeds supply? Or perhaps you imagine some technological fix will be able to synthesize water?

    Meanwhile, from a global risk perspective, water crises are the biggest social-costs risk analyzed, and the non-response to environmental or resource-related problems is part of the reason why. Please don’t take my word for it, though, as I’m not established here as a favored voice. Instead you can listen to some people you’re more inclined to believe, since the represent the top of the market on this question.

    Global Risks 2015 (Link opens in new window)

    I’d sit back and be smug about things you don’t understand, though, if I were you. Because snark is so useful.

    1. Don’t be quick to assume I agree with Jello Biafra’s target, as I don’t. I’m only commenting on the disconnect between fictional “the market” and the actual people worried on these issues.

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