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Lake Pooperior

Let me get this straight: we can get $40 million from the MN legislature for a F'ing hockey rink, but we can't get $13 million to stop putting poop in the lake?

Double-you tee eff.


Agreed. I love me some hockey, but we've only got one Lake Superior. These priorities are messed up.

WTF is right- I was thinking that last night, was going to see if we got money for the rink- I guess so. Stupid people.

Just spent the last week leading discussion, lecturing and cajoling my students along these lines--we read the whole article aloud in class and talked about ways to hold ourselves and each other accountable for these messed up priorities.

Maybe we should run all the sewer lines through the DECC? Or maybe new ice rinks could double as sewer overflow storage tanks in the off season?

I don't care how much money you give me, I will never stop pooping in the lake!

maybe it's because they think we can get all the water we need, in handy dandy plastic containers even, at Sam's Club.

Tragedy of the commons.

Privatize the sewers and shit wouldn't overflow into the lake.

Better yet let some entrepreneur find a use for all that shit by letting the collection of it profitable.

Maybe they could use the poop water to make ice for the rink.

Funny, commontragedy, that every place a public water system has been privatized, prices and corruption have gone up while service and access have gone down. Thank god they haven't done the same thing with poop yet.

The Tragedy of the Commons is some f'd-up, historically and anthropologically-unfounded bullshit invented to justify capitalism to environmentalists. Nobody I know who's awake buys it.

privatization of utilities does one thing and one thing only:

Make said utility more and more expensive.

Cases in point:

Water privatization in Bolivia, and the natural gas "deregulation" debacle currently in place in Illinios and Indiana.

It doesn't solve any of the problems within the infrastructure...it only makes rich people richer by lifting the gov't regulations that control the cost of the operation.

First the wastewater treatment gets privatized, and then the water in the lake itself...before long, your lakewater is being shipped to Phoenix.

rediguana, I completely agree with you re: the privatization of water and the decrease in service, there are some pretty fucked up examples of how blatantly anti-humanist privatization of water can be (the attempt to outlaw rainwater collection for example). But I also think that the "Tragedy of the commons" is a real and easily documented effect, and can be used to highlight abuse by companies. The original example was overgrazing pastures by multiple ranches using the same public property for grazing their livestock.

The trick, and it is a colossal one in some cases, is finding that middle ground that doesn't completely screw over individual access to a public owned resource, but allows for sufficient recourse for responsible economics. The recent Carbon futures market is an interesting development in this debate within the last decade. I am not completely sold on it, but it does represent a new way to think about the utilization of common resources.

Incidentally, I would think privatization of water resources in Duluth would exacerbate the problem as the private company would have great incentive to minimize costs to increase profit, one way to minimize cost would be less treatment of outflow.

The price MAY WELL go up. It depends on what government subsidies were in place to lessen the PERCEIVED cost of the utility before privatization.

Competition among private utility suppliers will ALWAYS lower prices.

I've always liked my private water utility. Cost me a new pump once in 30 years. Actually I traded some stuff for it. As for privatization of public utilities I'm all for it. I get good rates and service from the power company and they are private. No reason people couldn't get the same good service and rates from private water, sewer, and gas companies.

In situations like this...there is no MAY...rather a WILL...as in the cost WILL go up. Government subsidies have absolutely no effect on consumer cost once a utility has been placed into a private corporation's hands.

if you truly believe that competition keeps prices low, I've got a bridge to sell you.

In fact, in every instance where a utility (like water, natural gas, etc...) has been privatized and/or otherwise deregulated, the consumer cost of that utility has increased. Oftentimes, it has increased to the point where the end user cannot afford to purchase.

A few years ago, the natural gas utility was deregulated in Illinois, allowing privately owned supplier companies (which were wholly owned subsidiaries and/or partnerships of utility companies) and the "competition" that followed in every single case caused the cost of the natural gas to increase tenfold from what the utility was able to charge.


According to Illinois PUC (and as is the case with most PUC's around the country), a utility is not allowed to make any profit from the actual gas (or electricity, or water, etc...). Their profits came only from transportation, delivery, and other related customer charges.
When the deregulation took effect, Illinois customers were promised lower prices for their natural gas, and began signing on with these private "supplier" companies, leaving the utility itself in droves. Because the regulations controlling cost were lifted, the supplier companies began basically fixing whatever pricing they felt they could to the gas citing "futures," "levels," "contracts" and a lot of otherwise incredibly confusing language meant to actually keep the consumer in the dark.

Go on believing that the free market and the companies that run it are looking out for your best interest.

What's the profit margin for poop these days?

My understanding is that the water thing was the City's (and region's) top legislative priority for this bonding season (which caught them some flak from those who thought the DECC thing was more sexy) but the legislature went for the hockey rink instead.

So it seems like the local folks at least had their priorities straight...

Well, according to Ness and the DNT in articles published 2/11 and 2/12 it appears that a slight majority of our sewer lines are privately owned - not by companies, but by homeowners themselves. So just maybe, it's not the city's fault for once. That doesn't make the bill for sump pump and/or liner installation or repair of pipes much more palatable but perhaps the no-new-taxes crowd will be pleased to hear they're going to be paying to solve their own darn problems rather than getting a bailout from the state.

Thank you, zra, I will go on believing that I ,and only I, look out for my best interests .

In the mean time, enjoy your shit-filled lake while you beg the rest of the state for money to clean up the mess you have made.

Bread and circuses are so Roman era.

no need to get pissy, common. you can also keep your "don't come crying to me" scare tactics to yourself, they don't work here. i know better.

i was merely pointing out what has happened in the past when areas of utility service have been deregulated and private companies allowed to take over operation and/or supply of said utility.

I used to work for a company that did that very thing...bought and sold electricity and natural gas for significant profit. It was my job to convince our customers that they were getting a good deal because the supplier they agreed to purchase their gas from wasn't bound by government regulation.

Blood Money.

this is what happens in a hegemonic capitalist society.

Does it mean if the DECC money goes through that the new food, bev, and entertainment tax will become effective? Won't it be like .5% in addition to what we are paying now?

Something like this would be way to smart...

Plastics maker Sintex seeks to solve India's energy and sanitation problems in one stroke - with an at-home biogas digester.

i don't know what you are all worried about. When the second coming of Christ happens, the water supply will be just fine. So just be patient....DUH!!

This discussion of the "commons" is certainly interesting. Here's a web site that proposes a real and useful rethinking of the commons as a concept and practice:


How much would a couple hundred thousand 5 gallon buckets cost?

We could have curbside pickup!

I know this is an unpopular opinion but, especially this time of year, I care more about hockey than shit. If someone can present me two bills, one for the arena and one for revamping our sewer system. And show me how one was voted for instead of the other I'm more than willing to listen. I would even accept an intercepted email from a city official saying that they would rather have a new arena instead of a new sewer system paid for in full by the state of Minnesota. Because if Pawlenty offered us one or the other than yes I agree we screwed up big time.

That opinion's not only unpopular, it's worth shit!

What I found odd was that the city council declared the sewer the top priority, but then YP-S says she/they ignored that and considered shit and DECC equal.

Oh, oh, I have anecdotal evidence as well:
trash service here is priced less than anywhere else I have lived. What is the difference? Here the trash is picked up by a private contractor competing with other private contractors who have an incentive to provide good service at an attractive price.

I ask you what incentive does the Duluth water department have to provide good service?

And I ask you how the price of sewer/water service here in Duluth compares with anywhere else?

And lastly, it is unfair to ask the rest of Minnesota tax payers to clean up our shit. or improve the DECC. or build hockey rinks.


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