Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Water Down Island Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, on a far away desert island paradise known for its great beauty and simple ways, there lived a people who knew how to conserve water. But the world discovered this blessed land and visitors came from far and wide with money to spend, causing the land to bloom with grand hotels filled with luxurious bathrooms, elaborate vacation homes sporting infinity swimming pools, and gardens to water everywhere.  Water conservation was not part of this new breed’s thinking. It did not fit with their image of paradise.

Not my island.

The island folk knew irreversible change had come to their land, and so they built two great reservoirs and a desalinization plant.  And all now seemed at peace in their world. But there were those in other lands who were not happy with this change, for the island no longer needed to purchase water from them.  So they grumbled and prayed for great harm to come to the island.

And behold, years of drought fell upon the island, the people saw their reservoirs drying up, and a great anxiety arose across the countryside.  They complained to their civic leaders, who in turn cried out to those who ministered to them from on high, “The fates have forsaken us, buy us water from the philistines.”  And so they did, and the land was once again at peace in its dependency upon others.

Some fairy tale ending, huh? 

There’s a fictional thriller ending far more appealing to me. It starts with the premise that anyone who monopolizes the source of water and controls its demand will be very rich.

The business school question is: How do you turn a target audience literally swimming in the stuff—say through a properly operating desalinization plant and reservoirs—into desperate seekers of your money-maker?

Island desalinization plant

Answer: Generate panic in the populace.  Say, like by getting the reservoirs to shrink. 

Complicating factor:  But they have a desalinization plant.  No problem.  It’s not like the reservoirs everyone can see. No one knows how much the plant’s producing, so instead of running at full throttle, 24/7 in preparation for the exponential demands of a drought-plagued, high tourist volume June, July, and August, get it to do as little as possible to make folks think it’s doing its job, while they watch their reservoirs inexorably recede.

Current level at head of one reservoir.
Current level at tail of other reservoir (head at top of post).
To paraphrase the signature line of the movie Field of Dreams, “Do nothing and they will come.”  Empty buckets in one hand, cash in the other.

So where’s the hero in this tale?  They’re hard to find these days.  But let’s say someone gets word to those ministers on high, they charge in, grasp what’s happening, and press those responsible for getting water to the people to do just that.  But, alas, by then it’s too late for technological expertise (and common sense) alone to save the day and water must be purchased…with funds otherwise intended to expand and modernize desalinization.

In other words, a noir Chinatown ending is inevitable in this sort of drama.

Nah, no one would believe that fictionalized story.  It’s more convenient to blame everything on nature or water wasting tourists.

And pay the piper…of water.

Back to the drawing board.  Bottled water in hand.



  1. This is so sad. There are fools everywhere, it seems.

  2. Some might even say, Lil, that Abraham Lincoln's famous quote on the subject of fooling the people should be revised in light of modern experience.

  3. I look forward to seeing how you manage to insert the line "Forget it, Jake, it's Mykonos" into the text.

    1. Frankly, Lenny, I'm more concerned about the knife in the nostril scene.

  4. I sure hope that you took a boatload... of bottled water with you this year! But Abraham Lincoln aside, I think P. T. Barnum was owner of the water wagon.

    1. On Monday, Everett, I may have an update on P.T. Barnum and the sort he found born every minute....or in this case, every cubic meter.

  5. Except that P. T. Barnum never said that famous line.

    1. I'd thank you, JJM, if you'd not clutter up my punchlines with facts. :) Besides, isn't that same sort of BS, found in a Barn(um), WC, and Fields? :)

  6. FYI: In the ongoing discussion of the ultra-right in Europe, and the claims of France's National Front that it moved on from anti-Semitism to anti-immigrant bigotry (my emphasis), a little item in Wednesday's New York Times calls their bluff.

    It says that Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen made an anti-Semitic comment (which I will not repeat), and it was even on their website. He denies it and she says people are "misinterpreting it."

    Believe me: It was anti-Semitic. A group called SOS Racisme is filing a complaint against Le Pen Sr. and Jewish groups in Europe have accused him of inciting hatred.

    You think?

    1. I think there is an expression somewhere (or should be) "A righting pen can't change its ink."

  7. Good, but also "A leopard never changes its spots."

    Or as the brilliant Maya Angelou used to say, "When people show you who they are, believe them."