Murray Rothbard on the California DroughtSubmitted by Marc Clair on Mon, 02/03/2014 - 13:22
People have feared that the demise of California would be a massive earthquake that flattens buildings, destroys infrastructure, and sends the southern part of the state floating out to sea. Alas, the downfall of left coast could be death by dehydration.
The state of California is in the midst of a severe drought. “Experts” in fields such as Paleoclimatology suggest that the area has not experienced such scarce precipitation for five hundred years. This dire situation has caused the governor of California, Jerry Brown, to ask residents to decrease water usage by 20%. Many local communities have already put in place more stringent limits.
At a time like this it is prudent for libertarians to use this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to expose the problems created by a state controlled water supply. Why would we trust probably the most important resource for human existence in the incapable hands of the State?
To gain clarity on the issue of water rights we will be turning to Murray Rothbard. Before we hear from Murray, it is pertinent to read an excerpt from a letter submitted to the Foundation for Economic Education in November 1955. Later in the article Rothbard replies to this letter, submitted by an anonymous professor, who cites it as a guide to the correct libertarian viewpoint for water rights. The anonymous professor provides a good introduction to the discussion by defining the two common-law systems used at the time to allocate surface water, riparian and appropriation.