California has a major water crisis the way 1990s New York once had an urban blight crisis. But don’t look for a Rudy Giuliani to the rescue. The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, has morphed into a full-blown space cadet.
In most parts of the world, when a leader starts talking wildly as a crisis builds — think Ecuador during the presidency of Abdala “El Loco” Bucaram or Russia during the heyday of ex-communist parliamentarian Vladimir Zhirinovsky — attention focuses on the lunacy coming from the top.
Not so in California, where the increasingly silly statements of Gov. Brown amid a major man-made water crisis are thought of as nothing more than “fascinating,” as the Los Angeles Times puts it, even if a little “maddening” at the same time.
The freakish reality is that as California sinks into crisis, it’s being led by a space cadet, Governor Moonbeam himself, as if a mask of respectability had suddenly been ripped from the face of a dormant political hack to reveal the New Age looney he’s been all along.
Instead of displaying sharp-minded leadership, Brown waxed soulfully about the philosophical implications of water when asked about the crisis at a University of Southern California conference on Tuesday.
“You said water is a commodity,” he said. “Some people call water a right, some people call water the essence of life. Water is more than H2O. Water is baptism. Water is a poetry. Water has an iconic role in human history and the human condition, so how we play with water — it’s not like a widget.”
We’re not making this up. He really said that in a conversation with the publisher of the Times.
Rather than blame the water crisis on his own failures to construct water-storage facilities to ensure that water from wet years is saved for dry years, or present new technological possibilities for long-term solutions, Brown said the crisis was all about global warming.
“This goes to the very foundation of what it means to be human in a world of living things ,” he said. “The heat-trapping gases that our society generates are creating alterations in the fundamentals of our whole atmosphere. We may have already passed a tipping point.”
The governor obviously doesn’t see the water shortage as a problem he was hired to fix. It’s really a matter of “overpopulation,” he said, ignoring how he invited illegal immigrants to call his state home. “You’re all welcome here,” he told them last year.
He also reverted to the “small is beautiful” philosophy last preached during his wretched first term as governor in the 1970s. Californians will have to find a “more elegant” way of using and reusing water, he told the USC crowd, not mentioning that the last idea that came from his office was recycling urine.
“The metaphor is spaceship Earth,” he explained. “In a spaceship you reuse everything.”
With Brown and others of his ilk, it’s always the people who are at fault, not the incompetence and irresponsibility of their leaders. Which explains why his only significant ideas for solving the crisis are punitive rather than systemic: fining water-wasters, monitoring shower times and urging neighbors to squeal on neighbors.
“If the crisis continues and gets bad, more drastic things will be done,” Brown warned. What a shame for a once-dynamic state that deserves so much better.