August 31, 2004
Asian Technocrats to World - Sky to Fall by 2025

Another day, another technocratic prediction of apocalypse:

The world is on the verge of a water crisis as people fight over ever dwindling supplies, experts told the Stockholm Water Symposium.

Ok, one more time... as long as there are no price controls, and no technocratic oversight, then the gradual (and it will be gradual) reduction in water supply will automatically result in a gradual increase in price. This increase will cause farmers to a) become more efficient in their water use, b) grow different crops that require less water or c) do something else other than farming. Water use will go down, the price will then go down (because it's being used more efficiently), and eventually there will be a net increase in the amount of available water. This is the inevitable consequence of using free markets to control the distribution of scarce resources with alternative uses.

So, if it's been proven (and proven, and proven, and proven) that free markets modulate the use of scarce resources with alternative uses, and that they make shortages essentially impossible, what's the real problem?

"Nobody knows where the tube wells are or who owns them. There is no way anyone can control what happens to them," says Tushaar Shah, head of the International Water Management Institute's groundwater station, based in Gujarat. "When the balloon bursts, untold anarchy will be the lot of rural India," he says. [emphasis added]

Ah-ha! Here we have the crux of the matter... Someone needs to be in charge! I should be in charge! Nobody's in charge! It's a disaster! It will lead to chaos! Put me in charge to prevent the crisis I am predicting! It's a crisis of control. Starting around 1992, the Indian government began freeing up their markets, taking control away from unaccountable beauracrats and placing it in the hands of those who are directly responsible (and accountable) for the use of all these resources... the people themselves. Of course a social crisis will result when we trust common people to be responsible for things that directly affect their lives. Right?

So I'll make a wager, if anyone's willing to take it. As long as the Indian government does not impose price controls, I predict that in 10 years India's water supply will not be in crisis, will not be causing widespread food shortages, and will not be creating instability in the government. In fact, I'd put a side bet out that the price of water in India will actually be lower at the end of 10 years.

Any takers?

Posted by scott at August 31, 2004 09:25 AM

eMail this entry!
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?