Rogerís view (Not a Manifesto!) on taxes, Politicians and Bureaucrats, Energy and  Water Conservation. Also a list of suggested readings concerning the water struggle in the Western US

Overview

I live in Southern California (Poway, in northern San Diego County to be exact) which is an arid climate. A vast majority of our water (something like 98%) is imported. I am also a Republican, a conservative one, no less (Conservative meaning I favor less government involvement, less taxes, and smaller government). I strongly believe that before our elected officials and government bureaucrats imposes new rules, regulations and taxes on us, they should first try them on themselves. It is not right for Government to impose new rules and regulations on us, then exempt themselves. And what about taxes? I applaud what Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas has done. He has created the "Tax Me More Fund."  This novel idea for raising more taxes is simply that, he's inviting taxpayers who want to pay more to do so.  According to Gov. Huckabee,  the "Tax Me More Fund" is intended to give voters who think they are not taxed enough the chance to send more money to the state. Most people do not want their taxes raised. "What it does is expose the hypocrisy of the liberals because they want to raise taxes as long as someone else has to pay for them. Our state law does not prohibit someone from paying more. So if they believe it would make them feel better to contribute more, then I want them to write as generous a check as they can to make themselves feel good," Governor Huckabee said. Again, let our elected officials try a tax increase on themselves before trying it on us. The big problem with politics is the special interests. It is that simple. People try to claim that there is more to it that, but I differ. You have amounts of money to payoff elected officials to vote the way of the special interests. You have to remember that politicians need money in their campaign chests. They will sell their souls and distort the truth to get that money (Yes, Republicans and Democrats!). But I have digressed.

I also consider myself an environmentalist and a vocal one no less. I am also a former (I now like to say "retired") National Park Ranger. Not that it matters, I think Edward Abbey is one of the best environmental writers around (And if he was still alive he would probably disagree with that statement). Find the time and start off with "Desert Solitaire" then move onto his other books. Two issues that always get me going (among others) are energy and water issues.  Government should first fit themselves with alternative forms of energy and energy savings devices before mandating them on us. Why donít we see solar panels on government buildings in the southwest where there is much sunshine, for example? Why doesnít government mandate conservation in all governmental buildings? You say that already happens? I beg to differ. I work for a School District where I constantly see unneeded lights on, computer monitors left on, doors to the outside wide open when the AC or heating is on, etc. When I remark about conservation, Iím told to be quiet (coming from those stereotype Liberals that preach one thing but their actions are totally different). I also see this District publish a glossy newsletter about how we need to conserve energy, but when a person complains to them about the waste of the newsletter, the District tried to justify the cost by saying that they have to inform (but in a high gloss, multi colored paper, which is more expensive to recycle, which means it takes more energy!). But shame on me again, I have once again digressed from what I want to write about.  

Politicians and Bureaucrats

Being elected (or appointed) to office is a privilege, not a right. Politicians receive many perks and almost always seem to be demanding more money or higher allowances and/or more perks. It would seem that they have forgotten that all these perks and allowances are privileges, not rights. Amazing, it would seem that they have forgotten that theses privileges are paid for by you and me and we like to have some money to spend on perks too. With this in mind, government (at all levels), which includes politicians, should be required to obey and follow the same rules and regulations that they love to impose upon us. Government should not be able to exempt themselves.

What should bureaucrats pay be? I believe that it should be no higher than the highest paid elected official in that state. The Governor is the Chief Executive Office of the state. Why should any bureaucrat be paid more than the person elected to oversee them? If a government agency wants to pay their employee more than the Governor, then let them find outside funding for that additional salary. If a State run university wants to pay a teacher, a coach a high salary, then let the booster/alumni groups fund the additional excess salary. 

Why are politicians and bureaucrats normally given such big car allowances?  Why are they even given a car allowance if they make so much money? Can't they afford a car with the money they make? They should be setting an example for all of us. If they want us to drive smaller vehicles and vehicles with very little to zero emissions, then they should set an example and be driving those vehicles themselves. Instead, we normally see them operating the largest "muscle wagon" that they can get by with their car allowance (don't forget about their government issued credit card). Does this seem "right" or "fair" when these same politicians and bureaucrats talk about increasing the gas tax, vehicle and mileage surcharges? 

Politicians should also be reminded that this is a citizen form of government. In other words, elected officials should do their business and then leave office and go back to whatever they were doing before being elected. This should not be a career. Let them have health benefits while holding office, but when they get out, let them join a health plan like the rest of us and also, no retirement benefits. Again, holding office should not be a career. Get in, do your job and leave.

In closing (at least for this section), many politicians and bureaucrats seem to believe in the philosophy, which could be called "the divine rights of kings and queens". Many in these positions believe that these exorbitant perks of theirs belong to them because of this divine right. For our government to regain fiscal responsibility, we need to rid government, at all levels, of these politicians, bureaucrats, managers and administrators that believe in this divine right. We need people who care more about fiscal responsibility than the perks that they believe are due to them because of the title they carry.

 

Energy

What about energy conservation? Government almost always allows new surcharges and rates upon us, but what does government do to lessen their reliance on energy? Almost any government employee (and that includes me) could tell you how government doesnít try to conserve, such as:

1) Constant leaving lights on in unoccupied areas.

2) Leaving doors and windows open to the outside when AC or heating is on.

When was the last time you saw a government building being fitted with energy saving devices and alternative energy producing devices (solar and wind for example)? Again, government wants us to install such devices, but they donít. Again, shouldnít government set the example?

 Water Conservation

There is always talk from the government (from all levels) about how we import most of our water, how we live in an arid area, how we need to conserve (Much talk but very little action from Government). To get that water, we must take it from somewhere else. Is it really worth destroying another area for our greed? Los Angeles took the water of Owens Valley for their own need. They had promised not to use it for agriculture, but did. They took so much water away from Owens Valley, which there are health alerts over the dust storms that are created over the dry Owens lake. What about Hetch Hetchy Dam in San Francisco? Why didnít San Francisco look at the alternatives to Hetch Hetchy? John Muir offered lots of better alternatives. San Francisco didnít want to listen and now we have lost a Valley that rivaled Yosemite Valley in beauty. What about Glen Canyon Dam? Another waste of government. Those projects cost the taxpayers huge sums of money. Can their expenses really be justified in regards to the environment? How many lies have been told and promises broken to create these Damn Dams? We do not have an unlimited source of clean water. Conservation should always be on our mind.

Before government imposes new rules and regulations on us, government should be setting the example for us to follow. Some suggestions:

1) No flow urinals (and they do not smell either) should be installed in governmental buildings (While stopping at Glen Canyon Dam Visitor Center, I noticed that they have NO flow urinals (and no smell too). Why is it that I have only seen them there? Why hasnít the government retrofitted all their restrooms with these new urinals?)

2) Government buildings should be landscaped accordingly to the climate and water situation of the area. We should be seeing arid landscaping and drip irrigation used in the dry areas of southern California. It does not make sense to have a water intensive landscaping in area that most of the water is imported.

3) New Governmental buildings built near water reclamation sites (where the reclaimed water could be used for irrigation and fire suppression).

When I ran for State Assembly (79th AD) in 1990, I brought up the notion that all new development (starting with office buildings) should be required to have two water lines going to it. One line would have treated/reclaimed water for irrigation and the second line for drinking. All new golf courses would be required to use treated water for irrigation (Why use that water for irrigation when it could be used for drinking??). Existing businesses would receive tax breaks/credits for switching to treated water for irrigation. Yes, my suggestions would cost money, but the fact is that unless we start to build to conserve now, much more money (and much more drastic action) will have to be used in the very near future. We should start building this infrastructure now before we are forced to take drastic action, with drastic tax increases and drastic conservation measures imposed.

I support new development/construction, but I believe that before government starts to impose conservation measures on the existing population, that they should impose mandatory water conservation methods for new development. Some might say that this is anti Republican in thought. I beg to differ. We live in an arid area where a finite amount of water has to be imported. When that maximum finite level is reached, there will be no more water available. Shouldnít conservation measures be first imposed on government and new development before it is imposed on the existing public? Government should provide incentives for new construction to be built near areas that have water reclamation plants. These new developments (starting with office buildings) should have two water lines going in-1 line would have the treated water which would be used for irrigation (landscaping) and fire suppression).

Republicans, in theory, hope that the public and business will work together to solve their mutual problems and concerns. Water and energy is like a drug. You get use to it and will keep paying for that kick, but sooner or later you come to the choice that you have to give it either up and go through withdrawals (but at the end live a better life), or just continue using it until you die (what a waste). You can either make changes now and get use to the change of life, or just live the life you are and when the time for mandatory restrictions, suffer the some real pain when you are forced to make drastic changes.

 

Some thoughts to end by concerning Owens Valley, but can be related to almost any water grabbing issue. 

Famed humorist, actor, statesman and cowboy Will Rogers said this about the aqueduct in 1930: "Ten years ago this was a wonderful valley with one-quarter of a million acres of fruit and alfalfa. But Los Angeles had to have more water for its Chamber of Commerce to drink more toasts to its growth, more water to dilute its orange juice and more water for its geraniums to delight the tourists, while the giant cottonwoods here died. So, now this is a valley of desolation."

In W. A. Chalfant's book, The Story of Inyo, Morrow Mayo (a Los Angeles reporter) wrote: "Los Angeles gets its water by reason of one of the costliest, crookedest, most unscrupulous deals ever perpetrated, plus one of the greatest pieces of engineering folly ever heard of. Owens Valley is there for anybody to see. The city of Los Angeles moved through this valley like a devastating plague. It was ruthless, stupid, cruel and crooked. It stole the waters of the Owens River. It drove the people of Owens Valley from their home, a home which they had built from the desert. For no sound reason, for no sane reason, it destroyed a helpless agricultural section and a dozen towns. It was an obscene enterprise from the beginning to end."

 

Send me your comments, criticisms and corrections (the big three "C's"). If you know of other websites relating to this water problem, please send them to me to list. If you have any books to recommend that are not on my list, send them to me (I love to read). 

a list of suggested readings concerning the water struggle in the Western US

"A Story That Stands like a Dam: Glen Canyon and the Struggle for the Soul of the West" Russell Martin

"Drowning the Dream" David Carle

"Cadillac Desert" Marc Reisner

"Glen Canyon. Images of a Lost World" Tad Nicholas

"Glen Canyon Dammed. Inventing Lake Powell and the Canyon Country" Jared Farmer

"Ghost of Glen Canyon" C. Gregory Cramton

"Storm over Mono" John Hart

"The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: A History" Norris Hundley (Just finished-talks about current situation)

"The Owens Valley and the Los Angeles Water Controversy" Richard Cole Wood

"The Place No One Knew" Eliot Porter

"The Story of Inyo" W. A. Chalfant

"The Water Seekers" Remi A. Nadeau

"Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy" Abraham Hoffman

"Water and Power" William Kahrl

 

Some Web sites you might want to visit:

The Glen Canyon Instituteís mission is to provide leadership toward restoration of a free flowing Colorado River through Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon.

Restore Hetch Hetchy- the second Yosemite!

Myth, History and Water in the Eastern Sierra you can also find this article here in non pdf format

Inland California a growing force

WATER

Mono Lake

 

 

 

 

My comments as of May 10, 2004