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There's only so much to go around

07 January 2013, 12:55

Let's talk politics. No, actually, it's too early in the year for that. Let's call it a talk about money (something which we're all rather short of, this time of year), rather.

It's a simple, perhaps silly, point I want to make--but one that seems to elude some. Actually, nevermind politics or money for a while; let's talk about water.

Although it seemed the campaigns have waned slightly in the recent years (likely because of greater focus on energy), water saving initiatives were once all the rage. To be sure, some drought-prone areas are acutely aware of the issue and, as one example, the Working for Water initiative is still actively felling thirsty alien trees (with their trendy water-drop logo'd shirts).
To a younger relative of mine, the idea of saving (or rather, being able to 'waste') water was perplexing. After all, there's not only plenty of water on the planet, but the compound is part of an infinite loop that is the water cycle. In order to truly waste water, he argued, we'd have to either change its chemical composition or shoot it out into the atmosphere--watering the garden for too long surely couldn't qualify.

To be fair, there is some merit in this view, in that water-saving campaigns aren't directly analogous to, say, energy-saving ones. Once we've burned our coal and polluted the atmosphere, there's (in most ways) no turning back--no coal-cloud ready to pour us with fresh resources and start the cycle anew. However, there is a different, and very important, point here. 
Money is also part of an infinite loop of sorts. In some respects, the only way to truly waste money (in the national context) would be to either burn it, or send it offshore without paying tax. (I can hear the economists grumbling, but bear with me). 
Although there may be much water on the earth, and it being part of a perpetual cycle, the issue at hand with water-saving campaigns is that there is only so much treated water to go around. Perhaps the illusion of abundance fools us, and perhaps reports of dams being only a certain percent full has little meaning to us (after all, we should only worry if they're 0% full, right?).

We shouldn't waste water, and we shouldn't waste money (by more definitions than the extremely narrow one above). It's a mystery, then, that many people hang onto the idea of money--specifically, government spending (sorry, seems we will be discussing politics after all)--as being part of a magical, infinite well.

Some people argue, for example, that a president should be afforded a grand home (leaving aside the fact that he already has several--the official residences). We are either too racist or any number of diversionary (and dividing) terms to argue otherwise. 
Nevermind character and court cases; nevermind party lines. To these people, all I say is: some of you metaphorically haven't even a drop  to drink, yet this man is swimming and (forgive me, it needs to be said:) urinating in resources that were partly promised to you. It's coming out of the same well, and there is only so much to go around. 


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