Boyfriend’s Back and He’s Watering the Lawn

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

It’s a familiar feature of polling on budgets and taxation in our state: Californians think that there’s not enough money for programs and that the budget and taxes don’t work very well. But ask them about solutions? Good luck. All their ideas involve imposing cuts and taxes on others.

In this way, the California public is like the worst boyfriend or girlfriend you ever have; he or she is full of complaints, but he or she can’t tell you what they want done to solve the problem.

That phenomenon is starting to show up in surveys on water.

A PPIC poll from earlier this spring had hints. Two-thirds of California adults said regional water supply is a big problem; the finding was similar among regions. And two-thirds said their neighbors were not doing enough to respond to the drought.

But what should they be doing? Good luck finding agreement on that.

Indeed, when I wrote recently about my own front lawn, I investigated various alternatives for the grass that would be more water responsible. And I was confronted with a sea of different prescriptions (including keeping the lawn). And there has been little clear direction from those in power, other than to reduce our use of water.

This points to more than a lack of leadership in California. We simply don’t have media and civic conversations that allow us to debate issues – and reach a consensus on action. And unfortunately, developing such media and conversation doesn’t show up anywhere on the public agenda.

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.