All over the globe, 780 million people — about 1 in 9 — lack access to clean water. There are places in the United States where it’s not safe to drink the tap water, and the drought in California is making life hard for everyone in that state. Water is necessary to survive; without it, you will die.
That’s why clean water is a right under international law, despite these water problems.
Nobody, however, has sent that message to one conservative radio talk show host in California, who claimed that not all people are “equal” when it comes to water rights, and that the his state’s water rationing policies means having to play on golf courses with brown grass.
California’s drought has done a spectacular job of pulling the vastness of income inequality into focus.
The drought began four years ago, and eventually lead to a state of emergency and water rationing. The first water rationing was a law passed that would let the state fine residents up to $500 per day for wasting water on lawns and driveways.
As the state entered the forth year of the drought, however, attention shifted to ultra-wealthy water excess: celebrities who kept sprawling green lawns and pools surrounded by desert, ritzy hotels that water-mist patrons, and corporations that were still bottling water from the drought-stricken regions.
This spawned the hashtag #droughtshaming, which rapidly fell under the specter of class warfare in a land where a person’s wealth can be judged by how green their lawn is.
While #droughtshaming won’t solve the problem, making water usage public and using shaming can’t hurt.
This doesn’t sit well with the entitled rich, however. Wealthy residents in Rancho Santa Fe are unhappy with the new regulations, and being told to cut back on water usage.
Rancho Santa Fe is an “ultra-wealthy enclave” in Southern California. It consists of “hamlet ranches, gated communities, and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average.”
And when Governor Jerry Brown called for a 25% reduction in water usage, Rancho Santa Fe actually increased their consumption by 9%.
Come July 1, however, the state will force change. Rancho Santa Fe is going to be subject to water rationing for the first time in 92 years. The state is taking aim, in particular, at the amount of water used in backyard swimming pools, and expects it to be cut in half. If residents fail, they could face fines of up to a whopping $100.
The median income is $167,959, while the average household net worth is well over $1,000,000.
But to hear their whining, $100 is practically breaking their backs.
Resident Steve Yuhas told Washington Post that he believes people “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.” He added, “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live. And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
Gay Butler, while out for a trail ride on her show horse, Bear, told the Post that the wealthy were being “overly penalized” and “certainly being overly scrutinized by the world.” She said it angers her, because “people aren’t looking at the overall picture. What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”
Yuhas, who describes himself as a “rising star” in conservative radio on his website, does not like the “culture of drought-shaming,” either.
“I’m a conservative, so this is strange, but I defend Barbra Streisand’s right to have a green lawn,” Yuhas says. “When we bought, we didn’t plan on getting a place that looks like we’re living in an African savanna.”
It looks like a desert because it is a desert. As well as failing economics, the rich now apparently fail at basic observation. Gentlefolk, behold: the American success stories.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons