Me Myself&I

Electric Cadillac Desert

I’m reading this book, Cadillac Desert about the management of land and water in the American West. It’s super interesting and written with a humorous style so I’m all like “lmaooo dang” reading it.

It also made me realize something: dams. The insanity of building dams, and how it propelled the mystic about America as a different kind of country where things simply get done. Massive things.

Like the Hoover Dam, built in 5 years in the middle of Depression. Diverting a whole ass giant river by creating tunnels with dynamite while those workers were starving, is some hardcore shit. And an insane achievement in such a short time. Video here and there.

That’s one dam. The US Army Corps of Engineers built many, many more. Two things I’ve learned from that:

  • Everything about the budget was always off; always ending in taxpayers paying for it forty years later or more. Put it in another way: all those giant projects were financed by injecting money into the economy, not by the economy providing the money through taxes.
  • The electrical power capacity of those dams put America ahead of everyone in terms of production. The book argues that it gave America the capacity to produce 65,000 planes in no time for WWII. It created an American West so used to cheap electricity that insulation was seen as unnecessary, despite the cold mornings and nights. It’s biting us in the ass now, as electricity is not cheap anymore, will not get cheaper, and Californians are still clueless about insulation.

It looks like the West will be alright, water wise, if we stop abusing it. This winter is looking like a wet winter, which I don’t like. But it’s really good for our dry soil.

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