Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Don't drink that water, monsieur

From the AP:
Paris city authorities began distributing thousands of specially-designed glass carafes in a campaign to wean the public off bottled mineral water and back onto the tap.

Reacting to polls showing that 51 percent of the two million Parisians buy their drinking water in shops, the city hall and publicly-owned water company Eau de Paris argue that the piped alternative is cheaper, more ecologically sound, and just as healthy.
I've never been to Paris, or anywhere in Europe, for that matter. Since my father repatriated the family to the U.S. 22 year ago, I haven't been outside the U.S., except for afternoons in Mexico and Canada. I'm just not inclined to travel that far, except to visit my friends in California and Utah. If there were a city abroad I'd like to visit, however, it would be Rome. My mother never had a high opinion of Paris, calling it dirty. I don't know about Parisian water quality now, but my late father told me that when he was in Paris, he came to believe wine was so popular because it was far preferable to the tap water: he said there were "tiny little white things floating around in it."

The article mentioned that a lot of people stood in line for a long time, to get "free" carafes:
Hundreds joined a long queue at the esplanade in front of the Hotel de Ville where Parisians could present a coupon downloaded from the Internet or cut from a local newspaper in return for a carafe marked with the Eau de Paris logo and an Eiffel Tower...

Some 30,000 carafes -- created by designer Pierre Cardin -- have been manufactured. A third were being handed to the public Tuesday -- which is World Water Day -- and the rest will be distributed to cafes and restaurants.

"People say the taste is better when you buy it, but I think that is rubbish. And this way I get a free carafe," said Jacques-Yves Bezal, who was waiting in line.
"Free" indeed! It's the same ridiculous mindset that thinks socialized health care is free. I don't suppose Jacques-Yves ever considered that "publicly-owned water company Eau de Paris" gets its money from the government? And where does the government get its money? Should M. Cardin have rendered his design services gratis, somehow I doubt he picked up the tab to manufacture the 30,000 carafes.

Maybe Jacques-Yves doesn't even work and therefore doesn't pay taxes. After all, he can afford to queue for just for a silly "free" carafe. Even though I'm not working right now, my time is still more valuable than that. My time has a higher opportunity cost than what I judge the carafe's worth to be, even if it's Pierre Cardin-designed.

I myself drink anywhere from a half-gallon to a full gallon of water per day. I buy bottled water in 2.5-gallon containers, which is worthwhile to me. Tap water has an odd taste to me, even after filtering it twice (faucet-mounted filter and Brita pitcher). It's because of the old pipes where I live, and the heavy mineral content of the underground water sources here. It's almost ironic, because the water sources around me are part of New York City's water sources.

My father found water in the San Francisco peninsula too chlorinated for him to drink. I never noticed, but I was only 10 when we moved, and my taste buds hadn't fully developed. When we moved to the Salt Lake valley, he could drink that water; we didn't even need to use a filter.

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