Sunday, July 19, 2009

Parasitic Pat

Patrick McIlheran's stubborness, obtuseness, and ignorance are on full display in his screed on Milwaukee's water wars, Dollars and sense stall water war.

Pat feels the Water Works, or whomever does what they do, purifies water and pipes it to your home...and they only real issue here is whether this is done effectively and cheaply. Since Milwaukee has some of the lowest water rates in the land, is internationally recognized for our water system, and the Water Works is a handsomely profitable entity - according to McIlheran's own standards, the Water Works is the epitome of efficiency.

As usual, rather than adding anything to this debate other than the typical conservative talking points, McIlheran seems to use the water issue, as he does with many other issues, to simply take shots and make wise-cracks about environmentalists, Democrats, and citizens concerned with their water supply.

Pat is still oblivious to sprawl, how water diversions are connected with development patterns, and the ill effects all of this has on our environment. But, in Pat's eyes, we have dominion over the earth, we must continually build new highways, develop open space into parking lots and strip malls, drive our SUVs, and pretty much do whatever the hell we want. We're Americans, damn it! If we do it, it can't be wrong.

Pat's argument that Lake Michigan water really belongs to all of us, therefore there should be not contention about this issue, is also logically adrift. We all live in the U.S., Alaska is part of the U.S., so, by Pat's logic, all of us here in Wisconsin (along with all the other states) should be getting an annual check from Alaska's oil profits. It's funny to see conservatives like McIlheran become socialists when their worldview and the existence of the suburbs would disappear without such an intellectual manipulation.

Sorry, if suburbs want to keep sprawling and building in places where they shouldn't, they are going to have to pay a steep price. Pat should do some reading on externalities.

Pat is one of a number voices unable to come to terms with the FACT that low-density development must die. Either than or the planet will die. Not a very tough choice.

McIlheran believes, as all right-wingers do, that privatization will solve everything. Privatization would "depoliticize water". But maybe they should be careful what they wish for regarding their privatized paradise. I guarantee a private company would charge the suburbs much, much more for their water diversions and usage. The suburbs and McIlheran think Milwaukee is playing hardball, just wait until an absentee-owner, accountable to no one, controls the water.

Plus, do Pat and his ilk not realize that continued growth of places like Waukesha and other exurbs is the reason for water shortages and the sudden interest of private companies to control major water ways and water systems?

Maybe they need to talk with Australians, Californians, and Kansans about the outcomes of their water diversions and over usage.

There is no assurance any of this - water, oil, the planet - will continue in perpetuity. Acting as if we can do whatever we like and ignoring the consequences ensures disaster. It's time we begin acting like stewards rather than continuing to act like parasites.

For Further Reading:
A Win in the Water Wars
Alternatives to Water Privatization
California Water Wars
California's Real Water Wars
Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water
Is Water Becoming the New Oil?
Localize Water
The Real Cost of Water
Thirsty Suburbs
Water Barons
Water & Sprawl
Water: Public Good
Who Owns Our Water?

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