Remember that song the Kingston Trio did back in the '60's – The Merry Minuet? OK, maybe that was before your time but I do remember it.
It had a line about "hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain!"
I was thinking about that song when I saw news broadcasts on the drought in the nation's heartland and how food costs already are increasing even though the harvest would barely have begun normally and we really haven't seen food shortages yet. Meanwhile a major tropical storm was making its way across the lower Caribbean and heavy rains were expected in Mexico and the Northeast was getting bashed by severe thunderstorms.
The honest newscasters are mentioning – although often sotto voce – that the current drought is reminiscent of droughts that occurred in the 1950's. Most are just blaming it on global warming aka climate change aka It's Bush's Fault!
A very, very few also are mentioning that the current drought is reminiscent of similar droughts in the 1930's during the Dust Bowl years – indicative of the cyclical nature of weather regardless of which politicians are trying to stick it to the populace at the moment.
Meanwhile both outgoing US President Barack Hussein Obama and the presumed Republican replacement Mitt Romney are coming under fire from each other's campaigns for jobs programs that are alleged to be job killers instead of job creators. And the depth of the accusations on how much they would cost in taxes on the "middle class" would make a statistician's head spin.
Well I have a solution! How about an Interstate Water Supply system that can move excess water from areas with more water than they need to areas where crops are shriveling in the sun? It will create jobs, may or may not result in an increase in taxes but would help keep food costs down which would go a long way toward offsetting any public funds that would be necessary for its implementation.
Remember when the late President Dwight Eisenhower initiated a program to construct an Interstate Highway System? Still before your time? OK, trust me on this one. When you go out for a drive and you get on any road that has a designation starting with a capital I, it is there because President Eisenhower conceived of it, got it through Congress and now you can drive virtually anywhere in the US from anywhere else in the US in about three days.
Eisenhower saw the Interstate Highway System as necessary back in the early days of the Cold War in case we were invaded by Russia or China or both along with all their communist minions. He envisioned being able to move massive military units from one place to another to offset invading forces.
Eisenhower was after all the Supreme Commander of the European Theater of Operations in WWII and knew how much harder the Allied job would have been if Germany could have gotten what it needed where it was needed when it was needed.
The unintended consequence of the Interstate Highway System was the flight to the suburbs by middle-class Americans who no longer depend on public transportation to get to work and shopping.
Another unintended consequence is that the state governments now own the rights of way along the Interstates and connecting limited access state roads. Those rights of way probably won't have to be expanded to install a nationwide web of interconnecting water pipes with say, 8-foot diameters – which would be huge but still 4-feet in diameter less than the standard Interstate lane width.
A project of this magnitude could revive the US steel industry, and open up tremendous opportunities for research on other forms of metals that might prove to be better conduits for billions of gallons of water. It also would lead to jobs for people who make the nuts and bolts that keep the pipe sections connected, as well as the tools needed to install and maintain them.
Thousands of heavy equipment and other construction workers would be needed to build a huge network of massive retention ponds to capture excess storm water runoff that then could be diverted to areas where water was needed but not present. This project could be administered by existing bureaucrats of which there are plenty and way too many sitting around with nothing to do, which would make our government workers more efficient and not add more to overall costs.
I'd recommend the EPA or the Congressional Budget Office, as long as there was intensive oversight, but there probably are others.
Best of all, when it was done, Obama, the outgoing president, couldn't say that we didn't do it. I figure that if there was a partnership of public and private entities, the private sector would conceive of hundreds of ways to do it better and more cost effectively, so in the end everyone involved could take credit.
This project would go on for years, ensuring that jobs would be available on a much-needed improvement to our national infrastructure. We could use existing technology to reduce pollution from making steel – using natural gas as a fuel for example – and machinery with high fuel efficiency.
Ultimately the savings in food costs would likely offset the costs of the project and the United States would have gone a long way to taking the weather out of the farm production equation.
Also, in coming years, even if we have some years with sufficient water, there are sure to be other droughts and as the population increases the impact of lower food production will skyrocket. But we would be ahead of the curve for a change.
I figure, if the Romans could supply water to the Coliseum in Rome for war games and baths, with zero technology but great workmanship, using modern technology we can provide a steady water supply to ensure crop production and stable food prices. Pass this on to President Mitt please.
Monday, August 06, 2012