If Liberals Really Understood Economics, They Wouldn’t Be Liberals Anymore!

The American left just love to argue that certain things are “basic human rights.” Not things like our freedom of speech or religion, things which the Constitution of the United States recognizes as something we have as part of ourselves, but things which the left believe that other people should be required to provide for us.

In an episode of Blue Bloods, fictitious New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan said that the freedom of the press applies to those who own one. I’ve been on this world for seventy years now, and I do not recall anyone ever saying that if I did not own a printing press, that my constitutional right to freedom of the press meant that someone — meaning: the government — should somehow be required to provide one for me, or that The New York Times or National Review were somehow obligated to provide publication space for me. My constitutional right to keep and bear arms has never been held to mean that the government should be required to furnish a 30.06 for me to defend my farm from the critters in the neighboring Daniel Boone National Forest.

This internet thingy that Al Gore invented has provided millions more Americans with a new form of the press has been a blessing, but yeah, I still have to pay for the internet service to use it, and the web hosting for my website, The First Street Journal. While I have also been invited to publish on the American Free News Network, and do not pay for that, other private individuals are paying for it, of their own free choice. Given the conservative nature of AFNN, I’m pretty sure that the left wouldn’t believe that the taxpayers should have to subsidize its publication!

But they sure love declaring other things as “basic human rights,” for which other people have to pay!

Water is a basic human right. So why is Philly resuming shutoffs May 24?

The amount of money collected by shutting off service to customers who can’t afford to pay is a drop in the bucket compared to the incredible damage that shutoffs cause.

by Christina A. Roberto, Laura A. Gibson, and Robert W. Ballenger, For The Inquirer | Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | 6:00 AM EDT

During the chemical spill last March that imperiled the city’s biggest water treatment plant, nearly one million Philadelphians feared losing access to safe drinking water. Most residents are not used to living with such a threat. But many of our fellow Philadelphians will experience that fear and uncertainty every year — not because of contamination, but because of poverty.

Water security — the ability to reliably access safe water — is recognized by the Pennsylvania Constitution as a basic human right, yet tens of thousands of Philly residents have their water turned off every year because they are unable to pay their bills.

So, what does the state Constitution actually say about this? From the link provided by the authors:

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

So, it states that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to insure that the air, water, and land resources should be kept clean; it does not say that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to provide water being pumped into everyone’s homes.

Imagine if it did. That would require the state of Pennsylvania to provide the plumbing infrastructure to every mountainside home in the most remote and rural parts of the state.

We understand that the city needs to collect money from residents to maintain its water infrastructure. But the amount of money collected by shutting off service to customers who can’t afford to pay is a drop in the bucket compared to the incredible damage that shutoffs cause.

Without running water, people can’t wash their hands or their dishes, or prepare their food. They have limited use of toilets and bathing. Something as critical as a baby’s infant formula becomes highly stressful to prepare. What’s worse, water shutoffs can destroy families — unaffordable utility bills and utility service terminations are the most common housing issues requiring children to be placed in foster care. As debt accumulates from water shutoffs, it can lead to financial ruin and a downward spiral to homelessness.

Do the authors really recognize what they say they do? From their brief bios at the end of the OpEd piece, we can see that they are all ‘elites,’ professors at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, and an attorney, and people who earn plenty of money.

More, their argument that “unaffordable utility bills and utility service terminations are the most common housing issues requiring children to be placed in foster care” isn’t something which would be confined to water service; the same would apply to natural gas service, which many Philadelphians, especially in older homes and rowhouse neighborhoods use for heat and cooking, and electricity, which is also used for heating and cooking. More, most non-electric heating systems — natural gas or heating oil — also require electricity for activation and some for pumps.

The Water Department is seeking approval to increase the typical residential customer’s bill by about 21% over a two-year period. Without access to assistance, this proposed increase will place more families at risk for shutoffs.

So, someone has to pay for water service, right? Even the authors recognize that, yet if service terminations for non-payment were to be ended, as they advocate, then those people who can and do pay their water bills will have to pay more, because water service costs money to maintain and operate. Perhaps that doesn’t mean that much to Ivy League professors and an attorney who is also an alumnus of that private school, with estimated annual costs of $89,028 per year for undergrads, or a mere $73,494 if a local resident who can live with their parents, but a lot of working Philadelphians are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and while the 21% increase certainly reflects the inflation this country has suffered under the Biden Administration, those bills would have to go up even more if some people were, in effect, granted water service without having to pay for it.

Water shutoffs for debt collection are set to resume on May 24, posing a serious threat. Based on data from the Water Department, we estimate tens of thousands of Philadelphians lost water in a typical year before COVID-19.

Translation: the city, which also prohibited other utility service shutoffs and evictions for non-payment during the three years of the panicdemic — not a typo; panic is absolutely the proper word to apply to the country’s response — had thousands upon thousands of Philadelphians living without paying for their housing and utilities. And that raises the obvious question: if utility shutoffs for non-payment are banned, as the authors want, why would those who could pay their water bills do so?

That these shutoffs will occur during the city’s ever-hotter summers is a recipe for disaster. A healthy adult would struggle during a 90 or 100-plus-degree day with no drinking water. Imagine how it will affect children, older residents, and the seriously ill. The city’s poor neighborhoods without trees can be 15 to 20 degrees warmer than leafy areas in Chestnut Hill. Do we really want to inflict this kind of suffering on our most vulnerable citizens?

And there you have it: “Do we really want to inflict this kind of suffering on our most vulnerable citizens?” In the original on The Philadelphia Inquirer’s website, that’s repeated as a ‘pullquote,’ roughly six inches across and two inches wide. But as someone who grew up in the South, who was graduated from a 1937 WPA/CCC high school without air conditioning, and who has lived more than half of my life in places without AC, I recognize that hot weather is simply a part of life, and if uncomfortable, is still part of the environment. We noted, just yesterday, that several of the city’s public swimming pools will not be opened this year as well, because, in one of our nation’s most heavily taxed cities, there simply isn’t the money to repair and open them all.

This is the part that so many on the left just don’t understand: everything costs money, and for one person to receive something he did not make himself for free, someone else has to pay for it.
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