Small Government vs. Smart Government: The New Conservatism

In a comment I made on yesterday’s “Banning Bottled Water” post, CWTF challenged my thinking on the Nanny State aspects of policy of this nature. In responding, I was finally able to elucidate why I think policy like banning bottled water is inherently conservative: I see something like banning bottled water as “conservative” because it uses a simple policy tweak today to offset a future policy nightmare (environmental degradation).

I’m thoroughly against the nanny state. But – I’m aslo for effective, lightweight policy making to achieve meaningful social goals that the market might otherwise disregard.

The bottom line is that the to-the-consumer cost of bottled water will never adequately reflect the externalities that stem from its production, transportation, and disposal of waste – thus an opportunity for policy. Similar situation with catalytic converters on cars, or low flow shower heads.

I know that policy-making that restricts choice doesn’t comfortably fit into small-c conservative ideology, but as I’ve noted elsewhere, I’d argue that were at the juncture where “conservatism” needs to replace small government with smart government that serves conservative goals better in the longer term.

That is to say, I see something like banning bottled water as inherently conservative because it uses a simple policy tweak today to offset a future policy nightmare (environmental degradation).

[RodEdwards.ca]

44 thoughts on “Small Government vs. Smart Government: The New Conservatism

  1. I disagree with you. Sorry, but banning bottled water is absurd. If you support banning bottled water on the premise of environmental degradation, they surely you must support the banning of all bottled or canned drinks since most of their contents are water…surprise.

  2. Well, the definition of “reasonableness” in this context is certainly up for debate. I would consider bottled water – to which there’s no value added other than packaging – to be a more reasonable target for policy-making than something like Coke or Pepsi which is a different class of product, and not a likely target for municipally funded fountains.

  3. Setting aside the inherent absurdity of banning one beverage while permitting hundreds of others that differ only in the fact that they have added artificial flavour and colour added….

    … consider the consequences of this “smart” social policy the next time someone has to airlift thousands of gallons of bottled water into an earthquake zone overnight, and ask yourself just where the hell they’re supposed to get it.

  4. A properly conservative government would lack the power to ban anything, Rod. Its a product bottled by private companies, marketed through private companies, and bought by private citizens.

    Key word here being -private-. As in private property?

    If disposing of the bottles becomes an issue in this, the country with the largest non-arable land mass in the entire world, some enterprising -private- citizen will figure out a way to make a buck out of it.

    Any other path is the Liberal way. That’s where you assume people are stupid and must be controlled.

  5. If you are so hepped on going after enviromental degradation,Rod,why not start with the absurdity of naming a plant food (CO2) a poison? Why not all the REAL ones,like all NO’s,SO’s,methane,etc? As asked above,why is the plastic bottle of water so much more deadly then the Pepsi,Coke,or milk one???

  6. The Phantom, people are stupid – that’s an easy one.

    I understand Rod’s point, and you can make good Libertarian arguments for what he is espousing.

    At the moment, most bottled water is produced with public water resources (its tap water folks), so maybe it’s acceptable that public policy be used curtail the uses. It should be noticed that the city did implement alternatives.

    Some Libertarians that believe that some resources should be shared equally would not approve of the Phantom’s scenario. There is the Libertarian aspect of social responsibility often lacking in Conservative thinking.

    In a Conservative government, those that pollute should be responsible for the cleanup. Except, as we have seen too many times, Conservative privatise the profits and socialise the losses…

    As for a private citizen figuring out a way to make a profit, that’s a leap of faith…. Recycling was sold with the promise that it would pay for itself. The truth is that is cost 4x as much to recycle compared to just disposing of it… And who pays for the increased cost? Citizens of course.
    Many environmental “schemes” are just not worth the costs. Sure people may feel good about it, but in the end the solution is worse for the environment.

    If we take the premise that some small policy changes are conservative and could be used to offset future cost (something that I agree with), where are the policy lines drawn?
    Is it conservative to teach phy-ed knowing that improved health benefits reduces healthcare cost later on?
    Is state run day care acceptable knowing that it reduces social crime costs later on (less jails, better adjusted adults)?

  7. CWTF, when you start with the belief that people are stupid the only possible policy is a semi-benign tyranny, where the idiots are kept in line through naked force and trickery.

    Such as banning bottled water because people are too stupid to use it properly.

    There is nothing conservative about this. If you think such a thing is reasonable, then you don’t understand conservatism and you certainly don’t understand libertarianism.

    Government exists to do three things. Defend the nation, keep order, and enforce contracts. That’s it. All else is nannying socialism.

  8. Accepting the premise that continued widespread use of bottled water will lead to a “nightmare of environmental degradation” is the first error in logic. It’s an absurd argument on the face of it. Even accepting the premise, I would hardly call an outright ban on bottled water “lightweight policy making.” Any ban enforced by the state ought to damn well be justified by something far more substantial than some ethereal feel-good green exercise.

    Surely there are more pressing environmental problems out there that we don’t need to make them up. Bottled water, an environmental ticking time bomb? Puh-lease.

  9. The Phantom: policy making of this nature does not assume stupidity, it assumes self-interest as the primary motivator of behaviour. And it assumes that dealing with externalities is a fourth justification for government.

    Colin, Justthinkin, Kate: I don’t begrudge you your opinions. But I believe they lack larger context, and that rote adherence to hardline conservative ideals work against conservatism as a movement.

    CWTF – great comparative questions & analysis. Thank-you.

  10. CWTF: Please show me any Libertarian of substance who believes he has a right to ban others from using a perfectly legal product. I’ll wait….

    Rod: Your error is assuming (and remember, by “assuming”, you make an ass of “u” and “ming”, and ming doesn’t like it) that you know better than anyone else what “environmental degradation” might occur. This is typical of the neoFascist mindset of the modern liberal: “We know better, so you do what we say”. There is no conservative equivalent.

    The mark of true conservative and a true Libertarian is he/she doesn’t want power over other people, other than to leave him/her alone. I’m not going to tell you what to do; that’s your business. You can even continue in the deluded belief that you’re actually a conservative, when you’re not. But seriously – go look in the mirror, and say to yourself “I don’t want to tell other people what to do” three times. I’m guessing somewhere between one and three, you’re going to realize that you do want to order other people around. That’s OK; Nietzsche recognized the will to power over a century ago. I’ll confess that even I succumb to the desire, especially when the person in front of me is flummoxed by the cashier’s “cash or credit” question. The true test of character is do you act on it? I don’t; you clearly want to.

    CWTF: still waiting.

  11. @ the Phantom
    CWTF, when you start with the belief that people are stupid the only possible policy is a semi-benign tyranny
    Where was your irony detector?
    But to be perfectly honest, many people are ignorant when it comes to certain subjects. Take bottled water, most think that somehow it is better or purer than tap water.
    That does not mean I think it should be banned, but just illustrates that yes, people are stupid.

    No one inferred that people are too stupid to use it properly. I think that Rob was saying that the environmental consequences should warrant us looking at it closer….

    As for understanding “libertarianism”, your definition is quite narrow (feels more like Minarchism). Even Wiki expands vastly on your myopic view. Libertarianism does not have the “right”/”left” connotation that you want to impose upon it.

    While individual rights are tantamount for Libertarians, what is often forgotten is moral aspect.

    @ Kevin B
    You’ll have to excuse me for not answering sooner – I was sleeping. (Insert sarcasm here)

    I never argued that Libertarians would ban a perfectly legal product.
    If you believe that individual freedom is the ultimate goal, then you’ll have to logically examine institutions/companies/people that impede that development.

    Arguments have been made for “socialising” (read unions) because it promotes freedom against those that have economic power. This fits in with a Libertarian Socialism view.

    My view of Libertarianism is one of total personal freedom BUT not to the detriment of others. Environmental degradation is surely something that would fall under the catch-all of “detriment to others”.

    The mark of true conservative and a true Libertarian is he/she doesn’t want power over other people
    Then I’m quite sure that you think unions are a good think then right? Employees taking matter in their own hands to ensure that corporations (the equivalent of a moral person) does not have authority over them…

  12. I can’t seem to recall a case where anyone has died from drinking bottled water, but several where people did die from drinking tap water. Walkerton, ON comes to mind.

  13. Walkerton was the contamination of the water supply that led to deaths.
    Perrier once recalled (160 million bottles of so) for benzene in its product. The contamination was not discovered by Perrier but by a public agency…

    In Walkerton, it can easily be argued that cuts from a Conservative governments are responsible for the circumstances that led to the deaths.
    Scott Purdham goes so far as to lay blame on Harris who “created what proved to be a lethal combination of privatization accompanied by laissez-faire re-regulation”.

    That same ideology, lest you need reminding, was seen in the banking industry down south. The bailouts should never have happened. Canada, did fair better, but Harper wanted to emulate the “laissez-faire” in the states…

    Independent studies of bottled water shows that contamination is a problem.

  14. CWTF:

    This is what you wrote earlier: At the moment, most bottled water is produced with public water resources (its tap water folks), so maybe it’s acceptable that public policy be used curtail the uses. “Curtail”? Sounds like you support a ban to me.

    Then you write: I never argued that Libertarians would ban a perfectly legal product.

    As I’ve written elsewhere, I’m used to people contradicting themselves. So which is it, initial boy – do you assert your power to tell me what I can or cannot buy, or not?

    Then I’m quite sure that you think unions are a good think then right?

    I’ll pause while your grade school teachers recoil in horror at your grammar. And, yes, I fully support unions that adhere to basic principles such as no forced membership, no forced payment of dues, and most important, no ability to prevent others from taking their jobs if they go on strike.

  15. Kevin, if water is produced with “public” resources, I find it acceptable that the “public” be allowed to use methods to curtail the use. Curtail, in the sense of reducing the use. In my original post, I agreed with the incentives put in place with the town but not the ban.

    Si tu veux, nous pouvons poursuivre ce débat en français….

    You seem to want a black/white scenario concerning bottled water. I think its quite foolish to reduce all nuances to that simple level.

    Again, re-read what I have written, I’ve never argued for a ban on bottled water.

    I have bolded this above:
    My view of Libertarianism is one of total personal freedom BUT not to the detriment of others
    Since I advocate personal responsibility, and an argument can be made that corporations that sell bottled water do no follow that because of the “environmental degradation”.
    If we are to add all the social/shared/”passed on to me without any benefits” cost of the production of bottled water, why should I be subsidising a private firm? Again, it seems like Conservatives are arguing for corporatism.

    do you assert your power to tell me what I can or cannot buy, or not?
    You can buy whatever you want AS LONG as it does not impede my personal freedom.
    So are you telling me that in an effort to enrich yourself (in theory), you can squander what belongs to me, without my permission?

    Regarding unions, if you are hired where a union was voted in, suck it up. You should be aware of the working conditions and this may include unions. If you don’t like, go work elsewhere.

  16. CWTF:

    You’re just a mass of walking contradictions, aren’t you?

    First, regardless of whether water is produced with “public” resources or not, corporations PAY for it, just as they do publicly produced electricity or roads. Are you now saying that companies are not allowed to use legally purchased raw materials unless YOU sanction their use?

    You can buy whatever you want AS LONG as it does not impede my personal freedom.
    So are you telling me that in an effort to enrich yourself (in theory), you can squander what belongs to me, without my permission?

    It depends on how broad your definition of “what belongs to me” is. Let’s say I’m dumping compost – no heavy metals, no carcinogens, etc. – on your land. From a green perspective, that’s benign, so no harm, no foul, eh? Except maybe I’m dumping it where the smell comes right into your bedroom. Are you within your rights to tell me to stop? I would say so; it’s your land. But what if I dump it in a corner of MY land right next to yours? I’d say “tough”. Of course, that’s exactly why we have zoning and by-laws in cities – to sort out those little squabbles. But you seem to be asserting some over-arching prior right of restraint.

    Regarding unions, if you are hired where a union was voted in, suck it up. You should be aware of the working conditions and this may include unions. If you don’t like, go work elsewhere.

    What kind of nonsense is this?! YOU were the one who brought up unions, not me. You asked me, ungrammatically and unprompted, if I thought unions were a good thing. I responded with a qualified “Yes”, and then you throw this complete non sequitor at me. Seriously, are you out of high school yet? Rod, if this is typical of your contributors, be assured this is my last visit to your site.

  17. I’m heading out to the lake this morning, so I’m not going to be able to participate in this great discussion. Thank-you, all contributors, for giving me lots to think about.

    Yesterday was a good day for contrasting posts: In the “burka debate” I agreed with SF that using government powers to ban burkas was wrong, but I was quick to agree with the use of the same powers to ban bottled water. What’s the difference?

    In my thinking, the difference is externalities. I’ll leave it at that for the next ten days.

    Thanks again…

  18. Unions are repressive collectives with low brow leaders making political decisions on behalf of it’s hapless members. Their time has passed, we have enforceable labor laws now with the advent of socialist leaning governments everywhere.

    Nothing should ever be banned, let the market decide. That is called freedom.

    CWTF .. FYI … ignorance is the lack of information, stupidity is the inability to understand information when you get it. So are ‘people’ (a very broad generalization) stupid or uninformed? If they are uninformed, blame the educational system and their parents, if they are stupid, then we have a very serious gene pool problem.

    Further, I was having trouble making sense of some your philosophical views, but then you wrote something in French and your lack of consistency became clear.

    I don’t buy bottled water, but I will fight to the death for your right to do so.

    This world is filled with things that are completely objectionable to many people on both sides of the political spectrum. The difference is that those of the right side try to live their lives as they want to whilst those on the left waste their lives trying force other to live their lives the way on the left want you to.

    Soooooo, if there actually is a large group of stupid people walking and talking in our midst, I would have to say the it is the Leftists who would let a union, a government, a committee, an agency, whatever … run their lives, or worse, most of them would be only to happy to serve on such bodies … now that is STUPIDITY.

    Why is this comment not being published?

  19. hen you throw this complete non sequitor(sic) at me. Seriously, are you out of high school yet?
    It’s called a Non sequitur, no?

  20. Unions are repressive collectives with low brow leaders making political decisions on behalf of it’s hapless members.
    Members vote on resolutions – that’s democratic, no?

  21. If, most bottled water is in fact tap water, then it really comes down to a choice of packaging and nothing more. Hence the argument to include all bottled or packaged beverages. You cannot logically exclude one over the other. The rub, to try to accommodate both ‘sides’ of this argument is not to favour one package or content over the other but to look at it from a different angle.

    Water, be it tap or spring, may not be unique in quality, but the real topic to be discussed here is not the contents but the container. With the money being spent on deposits for the purpose of funding recycling programs, why not attempt to come up with a better container? Surely the millions, if not billions of consumer bucks fed into this system can be spent on building a better mousetrap?

    Biodegradable containers such as a cardboard coffee cup (sans wax coating?) or a cheap plastic replacement could be found that is made from 100% recycled material not currently being utilized, perhaps?

    As a person with strong, albeit cloudy, libertarian beliefs, any type of BAN based on faulty or fuzzy logic does indeed sound way too tyrannical for my liking. As Kate makes a good case, there is a need for a source of bottled water. As does Rod make a case for protecting the environment from excess waste in the landfill. But the quick leap to a ban is only taking the easy way out. We are a smart species when we can put our mind to something. Why not use our brains instead of our innate desire to control our fellow man?

    One fact I learned awhile back was that for ‘most’ municipal water sources vs. water springs as a source of water, the former requires rigorous daily testing whereas the springs et al, require only annual testing. We really do need to be somewhat skeptical of the quality of the H2O we consume. At the vastly higher price of the bottled water, we should demand some safeguards, just as much as we should demand as consumers that the profits generated by the bottled water industry, that they be more responsible to the effects that their packaging be better for the environment. Government, hopefully small, leads this horse to water, not pushes it, say by means of a tax incentive, as opposed to a penalty. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. The consumer pays for it by choice, so we, as consumers, can force the changes via the marketplace. I prefer that approach to bans, silly regulations or manipulation of the market by government interference.

    Bottom line is that we all need H2O. We have by our own free will, the choice to buy over priced water or not. In cases where we cannot drink the stuff out of the tap, notwithstanding.

  22. CWTF .. FYI … ignorance is the lack of information, stupidity is the inability to understand information when you get it.
    True.
    The ability to comprehend is not innate or equal in everyone.

    The difference is that those of the right side try to live their lives as they want to whilst those on the left waste their lives trying force other to live their lives the way on the left want you to.
    In Canada, I would tend to disagree.
    The Harper Con supporters seem to be the most vociferous when it comes to trying to limit abortions, oppose SSM amongst other social issues.

    Why is this comment not being published?
    It was…

  23. A democratic work place is one where you are not FORCED to join and pay a union.
    If you know that a union exist in a place of work and you don’t want to belong to it, then don’t apply for a job there. It’s your choice. Don’t complain once you have been given the position.

  24. CWTF
    Puleeeze let’s not start on that tired abortion thing. Even though I am more likely to disagree with it, I don’t actually care if people get abortions … However, I prefer not to be complicit in the killing by being forced to pay for it through my tax dollars. In fact, I don’t want to pay for the medical care of drug addicts and obese people and others who make themselves sick by their life style. Socialized Medicare is a tool of social control and does not offer quality, timely care, that is yet another topic, but it is a great regime by which the public can be taxed to death for the good of society.

    By Harper opposing SSM and Abortion, he is exercising his views and the views of a large segment of the Canadian population. He has not banned either of those issues, he merely has taken a stand against them. That is democratic is it not. Or would ban the PM from having an opinion you disagree with?

  25. I’m surprised no one has addressed my fundamental point – that bottled water is not a luxury, it is part of our modern safe water infrastructure.

    Banning bottled water would lead to the closure or retooling of the commercial bottling facilities required to produce it, and virtually eliminate the commercial inventory that is currently available for redirection at a moment’s notice. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes – even a large water main break or plant contamination. You shouldn’t need to experience an emergency to understand how important it is to be able to access and distribute safe water in quantities that can be carried by a single person.

    I sometimes think that people who live modern, urban lifestyles are too far removed from the reality of how fragile our systems are. They seem to believe that one can chip away at the key parts of the infrastructure that lives depend upon without placing the integrity of the entire system in peril.

  26. By Harper opposing SSM and Abortion, he is exercising his views and the views of a large segment of the Canadian population.
    and
    The difference is that those of the right side try to live their lives as they want to
    So how about letting people live by their own moral codes, giving them freedom, instead we have Conservatives trying to dictate how people should behave and what they should believe.

    I’d have much more respect for SoCons if they could be consistent.

  27. If you know that a union exist in a place of work and you don’t want to belong to it, then don’t apply for a job there.

    Excuse me? Your only rebuttal is to call me out on an obscure spelling error?
    Rod- please get back to us when the average IQ of your correspondents is over 100. Until then, you are a collective bunch of idiots. Kate, I’m out.

  28. Pity Rod seems to have vanished, but I’ll continue my point anyway. Use of the concept “externalities” is just another excuse to assume people are stupid. In this case Rod and CWTF, you assume people are too stupid to grasp the Big Picture. The rest of the argument remains the same. “Smart” government = you “smart” people telling all us stupid people how to do it right.

    Now as to Kate’s point, which indeed no one has addressed, it speaks for itself. If you shut down bottling plants you’ll have no bottled water when infrastructure inevitably breaks down. Yes you can re-tool beer and pop bottlers to water as Coors and Budweiser have famously done on many occasions, but that takes -time-. It also means local people can’t go to the store and pick up a couple cases to tide them over for a couple days of power outage or whatever.

    Interesting that this reality does not impinge on your obviously urban thought zones, gentlemen. For you infrastructure is like magic, it just always works.

    Myself, I’ve got a concrete box full of water out beside the house and electric pumps. I notice when the power goes out, which it does regularly. Rural hydro is known to do that. When, not if, we Ontario dwellers meet up with another cascading power outage like 2003, or maybe one that goes on for five days, y’all are going to be royally screwed if there’s no pre-existing stock of water in in nice, light, cheap, -plastic- bottles handy.

    Externalities cut both ways, gentlemen. Try balancing your entirely hypothetical eco-catastrophism against actual emergencies that you have already lived through. Like broken hydro delivery, floods, ice storms, and etc.

    Oddly, this returns to my original point. Assuming “people are stupid” as your starting point is extremely bad social policy. And it is not conservative. At all. Conservatism assumes people are smart enough to take care of themselves, and government’s primary role should be to stay the hell out of the way.

  29. Oh the irony KevinB….
    Here let me spell it out for you.
    Instead of debating ideas, you accuse me of hurling a non sequitor and wonder if I’ve graduated from high school.

    Then you take offensive when I correct you on the word non sequitor. You know, if your IQ was above 100, you’d have known that…. See how easy it can be.

    KevinB, maybe you should stay over at SDA….

  30. At the moment, most bottled water is produced with public water resources (its tap water folks) Um, moron, that’s “it’s”, not “its”

    There is Um, moron, you don’t use a plural subject with a singular verb.

    I think its quite foolish to reduce all nuances to that simple level. That should be “it’s”, not “its”. YOU WANT TO CALL ME OUT FOR A SIMPLE LATIN SPELLING ERROR WHEN YOU’VE MADE MANY ERRORS IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND SPELLING? BRING IT ON!

    Si tu veux, nous pouvons poursuivre ce débat en français….

    Finally, don’t you ever presume to “tu-toi” with me; you are not my equal. You are not even close.

    OUT

  31. The solution here is easy. Have the water “blessed” as it is entering the bottle. It is no longer bottled water, but value-added with the blessings of the Great Spirit (or maybe with the Spirit of the Olympics). You can’t get THAT from some lousy water fountain.

  32. For those with internet access, just Goggle “Boil Water Advisory” to see who needs have bottled water on hand.

    For those with very short memories, the Walkerton saga was not the result of Harris government cost savings. All Harris did was move water testing from an expensive government lab to much cheaper private labs. But if a municipality like Wakerton leaves it water management to a couple of local hicks who have no understanding of water quality, and builds its wells at the bottom of cow pastures, they get what they deserve. The boys in Walkerton ignored lab results until the local Board of Health doctor went ballistic. Blaming Harris is just the MSM storyline.

    Tap water is only as safe as the cost of washing all those reusable glasses the council twits will contaminate.

  33. John, stop clouding the issue with facts, would you? How’s CWTW going to keep his schtik going if you keep blowing his argument out of the (tap) water?

  34. In 2004, University of Toronto academic Scott Purdham published an account of the tragedy that claimed that the neoliberal policies of premier Mike Harris significantly reduced the capacity of local environmental regulators. Purdham claims the Harris government “created what proved to be a lethal combination of privatization accompanied by laissez-faire re-regulation”. A series of neoliberal reforms removed key pieces of environmental regulation and severely cut budgets for regulators. Harris argues that the tragedy could have been avoided had regulatory powers not been curbed in this way. Harris concludes by arguing that “if any good can come from the tragedy it is…to serve as a reminder that social regulation of nature is meant to protect us from the self-regulating market, and not the other way around”.[4]
    Prudham (2003) Poisoning the well: neoliberalism and the contamination of municipal water in Walkerton, Ontario. Geoforum 35 (2004) 343–359

    Next….

  35. “During the time of the tragedy, both Stan and Frank Koebel denied any wrongdoing and firmly held that the water at Walkerton was safe to drink. However, as the tragedy grew in severity the two were eventually part of the criminal investigation into the tragedy, and, as a result, both would eventually plead guilty to a charge of common nuisance through a plea bargain. In their plea, they admitted to falsifying reports and Frank admitted to drinking on the job, though a beer fridge did exist at the facility.[1]”

    “They were both formally sentenced on December 21, 2004, with Stan receiving a year in jail and Frank nine months of house arrest.”

    Wikipedia. Not the acme of scholarly research, but accurate enough for this purpose.

    Next…

    Oh, and incidentally old son, bottled water is produced with water -purchased- from public supplies. They -buy- it first, then they stick it in the little bottles. After suitable filtering and other value-added processes.

    Key word here being -buy-, as in the public sphere of influence sold it and no longer has anything to say about its disposition. Unless you’re going to insist on power of post-ownership control of post-public resources or some other such fantasy beloved by socialists the world over.

    Barry O’s got a great one for you, “power of post-acquittal detention”. I love that one, its so… slippery. Watch out for that slope there, eh?

  36. I love all the assumption made….
    In a rural North Florida town where the water tower bears the motto “Tiny but Proud,” residents have a big secret: They give the cold, clear spring water that bubbles up from the aquifer below their soil to the nation’s largest bottled water company — for free.

    Every day, Nestle Waters of North America sucks up an estimated 500,000 gallons from Madison Blue Springs, a limestone basin a mile north of town. It pipes the 70-degree water to its massive bottling plant and distribution center, fills 102,000 plastic containers an hour, pastes on Deer Park or Zephyrhills labels, boxes it up and ships half of it out of state.

    The cost to the company for the water: a one-time $150 local water permit. Like 22 other bottled water companies in Florida, including giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co., Nestle’s profit is 10 to 100 times the cost of each bottle.

    And the payment to Florida? Not a dime.
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/state/article980319.ece

    That is of course an American example. There is a bottling plant in Quebec that has a very similar deal.

    As for added value….
    On the other hand, bottled water is often not tested frequently at all and companies are required only to follow voluntary testing regimes. Since 2008, only 6 per cent of all bottled water plants have been inspected by federal regulators.
    http://www.polarisinstitute.org/it039s_time_to_shelve_bottled_water

  37. Bottled water is not municipal tap water, at least, it’s not what my employer sells.

    The Lethbridge water treatment facility provides water that has typically 200 ppm of total dissolved solids. Most of this is calcium and magnesium. The city adds chlorine and flourine. There are also trace amounts of iron and manganese as well as suspended organics.

    Broadly, these are the steps in our water treatment from tap to 5 gallon bottle.

    5 micron sediment filtration
    Carbon filtration
    Softening
    Reverse Osmosis
    Ultraviolet sterilization
    Carbon Filtration
    Ozone percolation

    The end product is like distilled water with 5 to 10 ppm of sodium added.

    We’re in business because people are willing to pay for the improvement. Why?

    Health concerns;
    Taste;
    Quality variations due to the various ages of municipal piping;
    In combination with portable bottled water coolers, convenience in the location of a chilled drinking water supply;
    Aquariums, exotic houseplants, pets.

    An alternative to buying bottled water is to install a reverse osmosis system that will produce on site water of a similar quality, but that costs anywhere from 500 to 1000 dollars. We sell those too, along with a full line of water treatment equipment.

    Outside the city, there are different needs. The town of Picture Butte, for example, draws it’s water from a slough. In spite of recently spending in the seven figures on new water treatment equipment, the town water still leaves something to be desired. Consequently, we sell a lot of bottled water there.

    The challenge farms present is one of diminishing returns. Farms use a lot of water but very little of it goes to human consumption. The rule of thumb for drinking water is two gallons per day per household member. It’s sometimes the case that thousands of dollars in extra treatment equipment is necessary to provide it so it’s cheaper to buy bottled water instead.

    It depends on the source (wells, dugouts, trucked), the size of the farm(anywhere from hobby to Hutterite colonies) and the type of farm to figure out how much extra that’s going to be.

    My point here is that bottled water is to the distribution of potable water what taxicabs are to our transportation network. Both represent only a fraction of their respective networks, both are part of an essential need, both satisfy it in a way that is precise to the individual, and both improve on what is publicly provided (municipal water treatment and mass transit). We could get along without cabs, like we could get along without bottled water, but it would be inconvenient and more expensive to do so.

    Further, if you are willing to suggest we should dispense with bottled water on the basis of saving some unquantified environmental cost, then surely the same argument could be used for cabs.

    Of course you won’t hear that for a while, as all of us recognize the utility of taxis while rather fewer of us recognize it in bottled water. But it is the leftist method to establish the precedent on the periphery and then in time, hunt for bigger game.

  38. Banning bottled water is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of. Later in the summer, I almost always have no choice but to buy several cases of bottled water for use at home. The tap water is simply undrinkable.

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