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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Acid dumped in Ohio city’s water supply

The good citizens of Bellaire, Ohio recently got an extra special bonus gift in their government treated water. It just happened to come in the form of toxic hydrochloric acid contamination. Fourty pounds of the stuff was dumped in there when workers noticed low levels of fluoride.

There are some major concerns that come up with this event. First of all is the wisdom of placing our water supply in the hands of the government. This kind of thing is exactly what I would expect to happen with that setup. Government ineptitude and inefficiency in the management of scarce resources is a well known economic problem that applies equally to water as anything else.

A follow-up question I would ask is why the government even adds fluoride to our water in the first place. Serious arguments exist to question why it is done this way. Leaving aside the crazy conspiracy theories, it seems like a tremendous waste of city resources. The section of that linked page titled "The precautionary principle" sums it up nicely. Please take a look and let me know if you can think of any good reason why cities should continue this policy.

I have to wonder if this would have ever even happened if 1) the government wasn't in control of the water and 2) if they weren't already adding fluoride. Sure, mistakes happen even in the private world. But private industry has built-in incentives to cover your bases first and take the necessary precautions so you don't lose customers to better organized and more effective competitors. No such incentives exist in government control of our water. They keep on doing un-necessary things to our supply, making it easier for mistakes to be made that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

It's great that there were no serious injuries, but it's only a matter of time until something worse happens. What are we going to do when there is a real pollutant added, such as nuclear waste? If someone who hates America actually got in to a centralized facility, I would hate to think of the results. Don't fool yourself into thinking we aren't vulnerable. It's a simple matter of important resources being centralized in the hands of government.

I try to avoid drinking tap water as much as possible. You can tell me as much you want that it's generally safe, I don't care. Currently, I buy gallons of spring water from the grocery store to drink at work. At home there is a reverse osmosis filter installed right in the sink. As long as the government is doing this, I will support the private production of water.

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