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Exploring the psychology of the wealthy and water use

by AirTalk®

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A general view of amosphere at the June Moss Launch Party hosted by Becca Tobin at a private residence on April 8, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. Michael Buckner

As water supplies dwindle in California, politicians, activists, and average citizens all appear to be making an effort to conserve.

In April, Governor Jerry Brown called for a statewide 25 percent cutback, and local governments have also been setting restrictions on things like watering lawns and serving water at restaurants. But in some particularly wealthy neighborhoods in California, water consumption is actually going up despite the drought.

Profiled in a weekend article in the Washington Post, some residents of the community of Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego feel that they shouldn’t have to live with brown lawns or apologize for wanting a beautiful garden. They argue that if you can afford to pay for it, you should be able to get your water.

What is it about residents in these wealthier communities that makes them have this mindset when the rest of the state is making an effort to conserve? Do you think the wealthier residents have a point, that they should be able to use the water if they can pay for it?


Ann Louise Bardach, author and journalist for the POLITICO Magazine. She wrote the piece “Lifestyles of the Rich and Parched: How the Golden State’s 1 percenters are avoiding the drought.”

Stéphane Côté, professor of organizational behavior & HR Management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

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