Ireland is about to introduce water charges. When I was in my final year of primary school, I remember that this idea was raised. Back in 1993, my teacher set aside class one morning to get us to consider whether the government had a right to charge us for water. He didn’t set it up that way of course. He didn’t begin by quoting MacIntyre or Rorty but by stating that his dad had collected rain water on their land and used it for various purposes. “Should water collected that way be taxed?” he asked. “Of course not”, we answered. “But what is the difference between that water collected from rain and the water in Blessington reservoir?” (where we were going on our much anticipated school tour).
We were stumped.
It seemed insane that Ireland would have to pay for water when we were rained on by a miserable grey sky 250 days of the year.
Today I am massively in favour of water charges. I think that the world has hurtled into a very serious ecological disaster and one of the most pressing tasks facing us an island culture is to inculcate practices of stewardship that sustain whatever natural fecundity we have at our disposal. Watching what we let slip down the drain is an excellent place to start and if water security becomes as serious an issue as energy independence, then we would be wise to get serious about updating our infrastructure and taking personal responsibility.
The Irish government is introducing water charges for reasons that have as much to do with environmental stewardship as the household charge has to do with local services. Water charges are coming in under external pressure as a means to generate more cash for us to pay debts that by right should be written off. The economic crisis my state faces is an excellent distraction for “monetizing water” as my friend Eoin puts it.
So I am in favour of the proposal but massively opposed to its motivation.
This seems to me to be a microcosm of the political dilemma the Christian faces in a post-Christendom era. I am in favour of constructing all kinds of social recognitions for gay people but I am not in favour of it because of some argument from rights, which is how it is understood. I am in favour of creating new ways to start, administer and design schools but not because I think parental choice is primary. I am in favour of constitutional rights being explicated particularly for children but not because children are our future. I mostly support the major political trends (apart from the disgusting project of reallocating wealth by means of austerity) that are emerging in Irish society but I have fierce quare reasoning behind my thinking.
So my question is: if I support the outcome but disagree with the motivation, how ought I proceed? Should I pay for a water meter to be fitted in my house or should I protest?
Your Correspondent, Is so hot he sets water on fire