Faith and Personal Responsibility

Recently, I mentioned Robert Glennon’s book Unquenchable:America’s Water Crisis And What To Do About It. Robert Glennon, who is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, responded to my characterization of his book in the comment section at the bottom of the article.

Specifically, I took issue with the tone I believed the book was taking toward Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia who had a prayer meeting on the Capitol Steps in regard to the water crisis in Georgia.

Glennon’s response was that his book did come from a religious and moral standpoint. I have been reading the book for the second time lately. When I first heard about this book I was looking forward to reading it. Having lived in the Northern Plains for most of my life, I recognize the deadly seriousness of this issue.

Towns die from drought. Crops fail from drought. Industries dry up from that and other causes. At one time, towns flourished along the canals built in the eastern United States. The railroad ended that, and exploded the possibilities for where industry and agriculture could flourish. Towns my family lived in were negatively impacted when the interstate highway system went in.

When I picked up the book for the first time I was put off by my perception of the tone. However, it is an excellently researched and written book in the area of stating the issues and in how Glennon covers and acknowledges opposing sides of the issue. Even though I have disagreements with some of his solutions I would recommend that anyone who cares about understanding this issue read this book.

However, Glennon makes it a little hard to disagree too strenuously with him on any of these things, since he covers both sides and freely acknowledges there are no magic bullets that are going to solve this.

I do intend to read this book again for a third time soon.

I do not back down from my support of the idea of prayer and faith regarding scarcity. At the same time, there is no disconnect between that and truly responsible use of our resources. I wanted to look at this issue from a more theological point of view in contrast to some of the things I had been writing about. I have been writing in support of inalienable rights received from our Creator.

Our Declaration of Independence also speaks of the Law of Nature and of Nature’s God. William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England of the 1760’s defined that as the Will of our Creator. In another recent article I wrote about collapse and the biblical explanation of the causes of collapse. We can pray all we want, and not receive anything if we aren’t using what we are given responsibly. This is the religious and moral aspect.

James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

My biggest problem with Glennon’s book comes when he advocates a tax structure that taxes “discretionary” uses of water at a higher rate than necessary uses. Who decides that? To me, this gets into the realm of social engineering using tax structure to either encourage or discourage behavior based on an arbitrary decision of what is, or is not, responsible. It violates the principle of the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. At the same time I recognize some validity in Glennon’s assertion that water cannot be entirely treated as a privately held resource.

We need to work to find solutions, and Glennon’s book is a good resource to understand the issue.

Clark M. Jones is a member of Citizens for Liberty, the group which organized the Rapid City Tax Day Tea Party and the Rapid City Independence Day Tea Party.

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