Thomas Sowell

The same severe government restrictions on building that drive home prices sky high also lead to vast areas with nothing but trees and bushes. Where it doesn't rain for months, that's dangerous.

No matter how much open space there is, it is never enough for environmental extremists, who will make political trouble if anyone is allowed to break up those miles and miles of solid vegetation with buildings, even though pavement and masonry don't burn.

In other words, government preserves all the conditions for wildfires and subsidizes people who live in their path.

As for water shortages, they are as endemic to California as wildfires. But when an economist hears about a shortage that persists for years, the first question that comes to mind is: Why doesn't the price rise until supply and demand are equal?

If you said, "the government," go to the head of the class.

The federal government's water projects supply much of the water used in California that enables agriculture to flourish in what would otherwise be a desert.

The government sells this water to farmers at prices artificially lower than the cost of providing it -- and at a tiny fraction of what people pay for water in Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Is it news, at this late date, that people waste things that they get cheap? It's been happening for centuries.

But none of the political "solutions" through drastic water rationing schemes will touch the cheap prices of water that lead farmers to grow crops requiring huge amounts of water in a desert.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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