With winter entrenched and spring just a distant dream, it’s time to stare out the window awhile and wonder at the passing parade of issues:
Are you thirsty yet? Will this be the year the Utah Legislature finally takes water conservation seriously? Will this be the moment when politicians realize worries about a long-term drought aren’t all wet?
Hope springs eternal.
A new analysis of scientific research, “Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis,” was released in recent days. That’s a mouthful of a
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name — something only a group of 77 scientists could dream up — but the report makes the economic effects of a prolonged drought clear. Timber won’t be as plentiful, water won’t be as good to drink, and wildlife, livestock and air quality will suffer.
Meanwhile, Utah water users still pay a price far below what it actually costs to make the stuff come through the tap. Property taxes subsidize water districts. As drought persists, the only way to make people use less water is to make them pay more.
As I’ve said before, the state should remove all subsidies, and water districts should impose a more aggressive fee structure. Charge little to a certain point, then considerably more as usage increases. Districts should develop apps that warn people when they’re close to crossing that line.
A few water bills have been proposed, but politics can be tricky. If my emails are an indication, people don’t like paying more for water. Some of them will think this is another government conspiracy. But Utah’s population growth isn’t slowing. Now is the time to get serious.
What’s on your label? If you wonder what happened to former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., he and former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman are behind an effort to bring civility and problem-solving to politics.
They call the effort “No Labels,” as in, we need to get beyond the labels we put on each other (liberal or conservative, for instance) and work together for solutions.
I listened to a presentation by this group recently. They like to point toward Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, or Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, as examples. In both cases, ideological opposites found ways to collaborate on solutions.
Who could oppose this? The folks I listened to were so hopeful, so confident of a better future. It was as if they hadn’t heard that Donald Trump had clawed his way near the top of the GOP ticket by labeling and insulting everyone in his way.
Who needs a republic? Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, failed in his recent bid to change the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows any president to declare a new national monument the way King George III himself might have from his throne (thanks, Teddy Roosevelt). All Lee wanted to do was require Congress and the state where a monument is declared to approve of a declaration within three years after it is made. Apparently, even this is too much democracy for some folks.
Good thing they weren’t around 240 or so years ago.
Is it drafty in here for you, too? Top military generals on Tuesday said women should have to register for the draft. That may be a logical next step, now that the secretary of defense has said women are eligible for all combat jobs, but politicians may not quite be there yet. Israel has for many years required women to fulfill military service. Here, it likely means we won’t see a draft reinstated for a long time.
Yes, but will we laugh? If you watch the Super Bowl, you apparently won’t have to herd the kids from the TV room during commercial breaks this year. The Associated Press says good taste will be the order of the day. No bikinis, no scatological jokes or suggestive puns. Lewdness and rudeness will be as scarce as wardrobe malfunctions. Does this signal a trend for all of TV? Do we all have innuendo fatigue? Sure, and if you believe that, maybe your window is fogging over and it’s time to stop gazing at the parade.