Water is generally viewed as a resource that requires centralized government management. However, Jacob Sullum shows that government does not necessarily allocate water rationally.

Since cotton is a water-intensive crop, the middle of a desert seemed a strange place to grow it. Similar oddities can be observed in other arid areas of the country where the federal government provides farmers with irrigation water at prices far below the cost of supplying it.

Sullum goes on to spell out other subsidies required to keep cotton farmers in business.

For Discussion. Could property rights in water be defined clearly enough to allow allocation by a market mechanism rather than by government?