Thursday, July 05, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

You cannot force indoor plumbing on a nation. Sure you can dump tons of porcelain on them, and build them sewage treatment plants, and stand around with cameras clicking and applaud as they push down on the flush handles with their fingers. But that doesn't mean you've instilled in them anything permanent or lasting. Come back in six months and see if they're not still trotting back to the outhouse, and the sewage plant has gone to seed.

Why, here in our own country, it took generations to make the transition. And it was indigenous. And it was fraught with local conflicts and difficulties. It took the efforts of a few crusaders to force the municipal governments to institute "water taxes" in the 1840s, then use them to build reservoirs and lay pipes, then keep them in good repair. Even then, towns had to go so far as taking the handles off streetcorner pumps, and tearing down outhouses, to force people to pay the tap-in fee. Even now, even here, it has to be enforced by building codes.

No, you can't force these things on another culture. So don't even try.