I wanted to respond to Mr. Bill Hartman of Barrington, who proposed in a July 17 letter after reading adjacent headlines about rising ocean levels in California and droughts in Illinois, that we desalinate water from the California coasts and pump it across the country to alleviate both problems. I think there's a greater lesson in this, but first, a few facts.
Half the width of the continental U.S. is, at its widest point, 1,700 miles, and water weighs about 8.34 pounds per gallon. Assuming we try to pump that water that far, ignoring the problem of actually desalinating the water to begin with, it would likely be priced right around a nice low rate of about $1.08 per barrel (based on oil piping cost estimates) to move the water that far ... oh, and the massive cost of the initial infrastructure, the environmental damage, and the maintenance and upkeep costs.
The greater lesson here is quite simple. While we can sit in our living rooms watching the news and playing armchair congressman all day, many of us really have no idea what it actually costs to actually execute these seemingly simple plans. Additionally, we must remember that these public projects are either paid for by taxes, or through our ever-increasing national debt. In a very "out of sight, out of mind" manner, we as Americans have a tendency to feel entitled to things while still calling for lower taxes because we don't directly see how those taxes are being used.
Please give some serious thought to where you think the line should be between cutting taxes and improving public services before making these impulsive comments and decisions. When you pick a point on a scale, you can't pick both ends.