Three Cheers for Command and Control
A couple in Glendora, CA face a $500 fine for saving water by not watering their lawn.
Simultaneously, the state wants to fine people who water their lawns. That is, folks can receive a fine of up to $500 a day for wasting water.
Perhaps what Californians are supposed to do is keep their lawns green with bottled water. Or take sponge baths with bottled water, and save the tap water for their lawns.
Except you don’t even want to give the appearance of wasting water, because in the spirit of totalitarian governments everywhere, municipalities are asking residents to report on their neighbors. And following the same dynamic that put numerous innocent Afghans in Gitmo, some people are using the tip lines to settle old scores
In Santa Cruz, dozens of complaints have come from just a few residents, who seem to be trying to use the city’s tight water restrictions to indulge old grudges.
“You get people who hate their neighbors and chronically report them in hopes they’ll be thrown in prison for wasting water,” said Eileen Cross, Santa Cruz’s water conservation manager. People claim water-waste innocence, she said, and ask: “Was that my neighbor? She’s been after me ever since I got that dog.”
Ms. Franzi said that in her Sacramento neighborhood, people were now looking askance at one another, wondering who reported them for wasting water.
We had to destroy the comumunity to save water. Well, it’s not quite Vietnam level. But making neighbors suspicious and distrustful of each other is an explicit tactic of totalitarian governments, so maybe it’s not entirely suited to a democratic republic.
What California’s looking for is a 20% reduction in water use. I’ve got an idea for how you can easily get a 20% reduction without fines, enforcement costs, or encouraging neighbors to spy on each other for the government. But it’s outrageous. Only a wild-eyed radical would ever suggest such a thing.
[Image Source: NPR]