One of the facts you may have picked up is that 80% of all the water used in California goes to agriculture. It surprised a lot of us, therefore, that the recent action by Governor Brown (a great governor, who I have always supported) left the agricultural sector totaly untouched.
Since even Jerry Brown, not noted for shrinking from hard stands, can't bring himself to deal with this issue, I would like to propose a solution of my own. It is something that I started thinking about last July, when I read an article in the New York Times, some of which I'd like to quote now:
"His boots were caked with mud when Thomas S. T. Gimbel, a longtime hedge fund executive, slipped in a strawberry patch. It was the plumpness of a strawberry that had distracted him.
Mr. Gimbel, who once headed the hedge fund division of Credit Suisse, now spends more time discussing crop yields than stock or bond yields.
He is the man on the ground for a group of investors — including New York’s biggest real estate dynasty, two Florida sugar barons and the founder of a multibillion-dollar investment firm — who have been buying up farms across the United States through a real estate investment trust called the American Farmland Company.
Hedge funds are not new to farmland. For nearly a decade they have scoured the corners of the globe for cheap land as food prices have soared, positioning themselves to profit from the growing demand. Hedge funds now have $14 billion invested in farmland...
The latest wave of interest was generated by the 2008 financial crisis...Investors were wary of the exotic sliced-and-diced securities that had contributed to the crisis, and farmland seemed more tangible."
Now, I understand the need to keep agriculture economically feasible in this country. We all have to eat, so we all have a vital interest in seeing that farmers can make a living growing crops, and that disruptions like the current drought do not make food prohibitively expensive. So, the Central Valley, the largest food producing area in the country, needs its water, or we all will suffer. But let's get serious here: hedge fund managers are not farmers, they are human parasites who have found one more area of our economy to plunder in order to support their private jets and homes in the Hamptons.
Since when did the government enter into an agreement to shelter investors from the consequences when their investments don't pan out? Well, okay, that's exactly what happened in the 2008 Bush Administration bailout of Wall Street, and in fact that is what happened in the 1920's too, when the response of three successive Republican administrations to the ongoing agricultural depression was to do nothing for the farmers, but to pay the banks back for the bad loans they made. This behavior was part of a pattern of serving the rich which led to the Great Depression; meaningful efforts to set our agricultural sector back on its feet had to wait until the inauguration of a Democratic administration in 1933. In fact, I guess that bailing out rich guys and letting everyone else rot is pretty much standard operating procedure for Republicans.
But the State of California is not run by Republicans. These hedge fund managers made a bad investment when they put their money in water intensive crops before global warming caused a massive drought. Well, too damn bad for them. It is not our responsibility to protect them, or to suffer ourselves to supply them with water in order to guarantee that they can make a profit on their investment- I thought that the free market was supposed to work this way; you take a chance, and if it works out you get to keep the private jet. Otherwise, it's off to a duplex in Staten Island with you, and you can start working on some new scheme to bilk the nation.
And that is the basis of what I propose. Let the State determine what real farmers need to continue their production, which benefits all of us. And let the profiteers, who made a bad investment, lose it all. It's time to stop coddling them at the expense of the rest of us. Cut their water off, and use it for something we really need.