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LETTER: When everyone owns public ‘resources,’ nobody does

The dreary front page news in Monday’s Review-Journal could actually be instructive. What do the drought and forest fires have in common besides the lack of moisture? Both these resources — surface water and public forests — belong to everyone, which is to say they belong to nobody.

Consider this:

Suppose the burning forest had been sold to a for-profit timber company which had an economic incentive to take care of the resource. Think it would be burning now? Take the surface water.

Suppose the total water right had been sold to a private enterprise. What would a profit-minded company do in the face of dwindling supply? My guess is that users would get the chance to bid for the water. Would cities value water more than cotton farmers? Would city residents like to pay more to have water?

In today’s speak, maybe allocation of “public” resources should be “re-imagined.” Oh, wait. Then we wouldn’t have to be such victims of climate change.

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