A “Tell” Upon America

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The term “tell” is often used regarding poker playing or pulling a scam. It refers to a gesture, a look, a twitch someone has that indicates what they are thinking. For example, a person always scratches his forehead when he is bluffing in poker. I recently encountered a situation that was itself not significant. Yet it really “tells” you what the state of America is today.

Everyone knows that California has been a disaster regarding our water supply for a while. California lost allocation from the Colorado River and squandered water reservoir bond money for years. In addition, the sensible solution to the problem – desalination plants — has been denied by the elected officials, largely because of environmentalists. Then there is the agriculture industry that provides fruits and vegetables for the entire nation but uses a lot of water. Because of that most all Californians practice water savings procedures that many other Americans do not have to think about.

I signed up for an app called Nextdoor. You may be familiar with it. It allows people who live within a certain area near to one another to communicate concerns. These days a lot of it talks about the unruly homeless or increased crime due to lax enforcement in Los Angeles pushed by our new District Attorney George Gascon.


A gentleman wrote about his walk on a recent rainy day. Understand in Southern California we may get 10 days of rain a year. In a big year we might get 20 days of rain. This is not Seattle which is overcast 240 days a year. He expressed concern that neighbors had sprinklers operating on a rainy day. He suggested they solve the problem by getting a device for which the local power company (DWP) will reimburse them $200 as they did for him. There was a flood of positive responses.

There are so many things wrong with this it became immediately clear. Let us start with the fact that of all the problems in the world this is rather miniscule. We have so little rain here; why is he so concerned? I personally am very rigid about not wasting water, but on the scale of 1 to 10, I saw this as a 2. I asked the Beautiful Wife what she does when it rains. She goes outside and flips two timer switches, and the sprinklers are off. Not the biggest issue in the world. We do not need expensive devices to solve every one of our minor life challenges.

Then there is the device that this man was touting. He made clear that the device made sense not only as a convenience but in the end, it was free – FREE. This was the genius of the entire matter. It was quite clear that he thought that if the payment for the device was not coming directly out of his bank account it was – FREE. I did not waste my time responding via Nextdoor by explaining to him the basics of economics. Not only was he clueless that he was paying for the device, but he also was paying for all the staffing time to process the refunds. He did not seem to grasp that he was paying for this through inflated power bills, which are some of the highest in the nation. Amazingly, no one else seemed to understand this.

If this was such a good idea and this person was so water conscious, why did he not just go out and get the device without the prodding of the DWP reimbursement program?


There is a sickness going on in our country. People feeling the need to make public their good deeds instead of quietly doing what they know is right. Worse, these people promote their good deeds when they are either being done by others or with other people’s money (OPM).

There were a couple of interesting comments. One person suggested another device for $20, not $200. Another person suggested you send in the receipt for the device to the DWP and upon receiving reimbursement sell the device on eBay. Hard to tell whether the person who posted it was joking, but either way it tells you how reckless these programs are in the first place. I would not put it above some people to enact that scheme.

Major portions of our country have lost the concept of personal responsibility. They think they are entitled to OPM. They do not grasp doing simple tasks without others having to pay for them and they do not understand they always pay in the end. The worst part of this story is how many of my neighbors condoned this behavior.

There are many other instances where simple actions or attitudes are “tells” about the changing morals of our society. We used to be a country that took responsibility for what we did and expected that if we wanted to accomplish something, we would be the person paying. That seems to have disappeared and few people even noticed.


This article was published on June 27, 2021 in FlashReport and is reproduced with the permission of the author.


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