It’s a dam shame.
There are plenty of private sector dams in the U.S., but the biggest are federal government projects, like those on the Columbia and Colorado rivers. These government-run outfits aren’t “free,” though. Indeed, they often prove to be good examples of typical government operations, providing special favors to some people at the expense of others.
Take the Hoover Dam, cherished as the nation’s highest symbol by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The dam supplies water and electricity to Las Vegas, Nevada — at cut rate prices. A typical family in Las Vegas pays half for water what the same family would pay in Atlanta, Georgia, despite the fact that Atlanta gets 13 times more precipitation. These cheap rates have predictable consequences — overuse, for one. Which then leads local water authorities to foist on consumers some heavily intrusive conservation rules.
Andrew Wilson, in a report for the Property & Environment Research Center, writes that “A market-ready solution for Las Vegas water,” though not often talked about, would have far fewer negative consequences. And it’s not a difficult idea as such: “discard the historic cost-based pricing model and move instead to a pricing system that recognizes the scarcity value of water.”
Raising the prices for water and electricity to Las Vegas (and, for that matter, electricity to favored Bonneville Power Administration customers in the Pacific Northwest — along with many other federal government “business” products) would not only help forestall shortages and draconian lawmaking, it would be equitable. There’s no reason for the rest of the country to be, in effect, subsidizing Sin City.
Or any other city.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.