Sitting at a game at Dodger Stadium the other evening I admired the beautifully dark green grass on the field. It was a bit startling. I'd forgotten what the true color of grass should be since my lawn at home has taken on a yellow-brown hue. The city of Los Angeles is in a drought and has been for a couple of years now. So being conscientious citizens, my wife and I have tried to curtail our water usage. Okay. The city has stopped restaurants from automatically offering water to their customers. Okay. So, if I really want a glass of water in a restaurant, I'll ask for it. Okay. The city has jacked up water rates. Not so okay. My water bill has skyrocketted even though I actually use less water than I did previously.
Then something new was started this summer and will continue for who knows how long. The city has made it a rule that Mondays and Thursdays are the only two days of the week when residents are allowed to water their lawns - and then for only 15 minutes maximum per section. Anyone caught watering their lawns for longer periods or on other days are subject to stiff fines. That's right, water your flowers on the wrong day, get a fine. You see, we now have water gestapo, or as they're known offically, the Los Angeles Water Conservation Team.
It works like this, first offenders will be issued a warning, second time offenders will be fined $100 and it goes up by $100 increments each time from there. And how will the city water nazis know who is in violation? Do you think they have thousands of these water cops out there patrolling every neighborhood in LA? Of course not. The city area is way too large, it covers about 500 square miles. No, the water cops wouldn't be able to do their jobs without tips from neighbors, so the city has an anonymous hotline and email address for citizens to report their neighbors who may be wasting water to the government authorities. Hmmmm. Sound like any place you might have heard about, like say, Nazi Germany? Or maybe Communist Russa?
"Oh, c'mon Greg, you've gone too far. This thing is only about water!" Oh, really? It may only be about water, but ratting out your neighbors is still ratting out your neighbors. Encouraging citizens to keep track of family and friends and to report violaters to government authorities is creepy. Today it's water, tomorrow who knows what?
The City of Los Angeles is just the latest, local version of a new national "reporting your neighbors" thing. In case you haven't been paying attention, the Obama administration is encouraging people to report anyone who posts information on the internet which is against the Obama healthcare inititave. Think I'm kidding? The following statement is directly, word for word, from the WHITEHOUSE.COM web page:
" There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org."
So in other words, if you see something you don't politically agree with, you need to turn in your neighbor. Report them to the Feds. But it doesn't stop there; citizens who rat on their neighbors can ACTAULLY EARN MONEY! Yep! The government's WeTip program offers cash rewards for anonymous tips about guns, child abuse and suspicious behavior. Informers can earn up to $1000 for each confirmed conviction.
Things to "turn them in" for include drug dealing and theft, but what's really troubling is the more vague examples such as "threats and intimidation" as well as "weapons" and "child abuse." Since when is having a "weapon" in and of itself considered a crime in a country where citizens have the legal right to own firearms? Will your neighbor be turning you in if he sees you loading your car with a rifle on your way to the shooting range? What about "child abuse"? What is considered ''child abuse?" Will your local neighborhood spy be informing the authorities when he sees you disciplining your child?
And think about this, no communication with the White House can ever be deleted, so in all probability, all E-mail messages, blog posts, and other private communications sent to the White House on the proposed government takeover of health care and other matters, will lead to a data bank of names, E-mail and IP addresses. A government "enemies list" to end all enemies lists. Big brother will have your number.
But getting back to the Los Angeles Water Conservation Team, I wonder if these guys will be breaking down LA Mayor Villaraigosa's door anytime soon. I heard on one of our morning radio stations that people have seen the mayor's mansion watering its lawn on many more days than just the allotted Monday and Thursday and for longer periods than the mandatory 15 minutes. Whoops. I guess when you're a celebrity mayor the rules don't apply to you. Maybe he'll be turned in by one of his neighbors.