Re: Ranchos Water purchase good for Apple Valley (November 12, 2014)

Art Bishop’s response to Tony Penna’s well-thought-out Ranchos Water is not for sale affords a glimpse at the iceberg of problems that could — and probably would — come from the Town of Apple Valley gaining control of Ranchos Water.

Bishop derides fears of a government takeover of Ranchos Water. Yet this is the main issue: Government should govern, creating the environment for free-market capitalism to provide the greatest good for the most people. This is the principle upon which this country was founded and built. It’s what made this country the powerhouse it once was until government functionaries gnawed away at the very soul of the system for their own self-aggrandizement.

As for stable water rates, Bishop eludes to this as if it were a guarantee handed down to Moses on a tablet. Virtually all of Southern California is essentially a desert, and our little part of it is 100 percent desert. As such, we’re lucky to have any water, let alone water at a guaranteed low price.

Bishop also betrays his ignorance of business by stating that water rates could be lower by eliminating the profit currently earned by Ranchos Water. In real life (as opposed to government fantasies), profits are what validate good business decisions and make possible future growth and improvements. By eliminating profits from water rates, Bishop would not only be artificially lowering rates in such a way to encourage greater consumption but also implicitly relying on taxpayers to bankroll water system growth and improvements when (not if) needed. This is often referred to as robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Conspicuous by its absence from Bishop’s response is the utter disaster spawned by the Town’s acquisition of the money-losing Apple Valley Country Club (now the Apple Valley Golf Course). First, the Town was going to buy the golf course only if it came with the water rights. Then when it became obvious that the water rights were separate, the Town bought the golf course anyway. Brilliant! For the incumbent town council members who recently spent thousands assuring us that they have been doing a great job, the fact that the Golf Course is losing millions each year or month or week is beside the point. What’s important is that the Town preserved one of the largest users of water in town. What better a way to support the argument that now the Town needs to buy more water?

If it is reasonable as Bishop says for the Town to acquire Rancho Water for these and other specious reasons, then why is it not likewise reasonable for the Town to acquire other privately-held businesses? The answer is, as always, that governments rarely if ever back winners, and governments rarely if ever do anything efficiently. But because governments never spend their own money, relying instead on bail-outs from taxpayers, government officials such as Bishop seem never to feel as if they can do any wrong. History amply shows exactly the opposite.

Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.