In an editorial in today's 'Guardian', Jeffrey Sachs, an economist who should never be awarded the Nobel Prize, writes of the 'water problem' that,
"Most governments are poorly equipped to deal with serious water challenges. Water ministries are typically staffed with engineers and generalist civil servants. Yet lasting solutions to water challenges require a broad range of expert knowledge about climate, ecology, farming, population, engineering, economics, community politics, and local cultures. Government officials also need the skill and flexibility to work with local communities, private businesses, international organisations, and potential donors."
To momentarily adopt the language of 'public choice', my own preference, at all times and under all circumstances, would be to use a water system designed and operated by a water engineer, rather than one run by a demographer or an aboriginal rights activist. Economists and anthropologists cannot make the rain fall more frequently, nor the rivers flow more quickly. Unless they are avid practitioners of DIY home improvement, few might be capable of laying water pipes and designing sewerage systems. There are some things that are best left to the experts; that is, if the celebrity economists will just let them get on with it.
It is ironic that the world's most famous guru of sustainable development is a native of a city now apparently in terminal decline.