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July 28, 2014

"Solving California's Drought Problem: Market Pricing"

Still more on the fabulous lie that "government is the name we give to things we do together":

The New York Times reports that "cities across California are encouraging residents to tattle on their neighbors for wasting water" — just the kind of behavior that we want our government to cultivate.

Those reluctant to squeal are instead shaming residents they see washing their cars and watering their lawns, and embarrassing anyone suspected of taking long showers.

To help out, water officials in Los Angeles will soon offer hangers that residents can "slip anonymously around the doorknobs of neighbors whose sprinklers are watering the sidewalk."

What a swell way for government to pit neighbors against each other and create conditions that could explode into violence. But then, what should we expect when some officials defend the shaming practice because it's akin to an "education" program?

Even more: "Snitch nation".

There is value in collective self-policing, a feature of health societies that will never and should never disappear entirely. And public shaming has a rich, if lamentable, Western tradition dating back to the stockades. But the rise of an informant culture in America is distinct from self-policing, and many appear to participate in the encouraged practice of informing on others more in service to a base desire to indulge in a little schadenfreude than anything else.

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