10/15/2018

From the raging wildfires to the fracas over Department of Motor Vehicle lines, California policy makers aren’t about to learn the right lessons.

“It’s unclear exactly which ‘bad environmental laws’ Trump is referring to,” explained a CNN report. “Experts assume he’s talking about the age-old fight for water rights in California, which pits farmers in the state’s conservative Central Valley against big cities and against environmentalists, who want to see some water left in rivers and streams to support populations of salmon and wildlife.”

Actually, it’s not that hard to find the laws he’s talking about. California’s nonpartisan watchdog agency, known as the Little Hoover Commission, released a report (“Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada”) earlier in the year that echoed some of these points: “California’s forests are reaching a breaking point. Poor management policies that interrupted the natural and historical cycle of fire, combined now with a changing climate, have led forests vulnerable to disease, insects, catastrophic fire and drought.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial, which referenced the report, noted that “Nearly 130 million trees in the state have died from drought, providing fuel for fast-spreading fires, and about half of the state’s 33 million acres of forestland needs restoration.” Instead of better managing the state’s forests, the editorial noted, the Brown administration is moving forward with a bullet train that could cost $100 billion. Our government — every government — has odd priorities.

. . . Once again, it’s a problem of government management of resources. It’s the old “tragedy of the commons” situation. When everyone owns a resource, no one owns it. There’s no profit motive, so no way to measure its productivity. With the fires raging, the Left has targeted its usual bogeyman of urbanization. Human beings — and not just those particular humans who are mismanaging the public’s resources on behalf of government agencies — have to be to blame.

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