Thursday, October 15, 2009
As is the case with most cities in the DCU, things are not going to well in Metropolis. Superman's gone, the city's new protector Mon-El has apparently been killed, and the citizens have lost their faith in superheroes. To top it off, the city's sewer system has been completely destroyed in a recent battle.
Seems like a fairly basic repair job, right? I mean bombs go off in the sewer systems of Gotham and Metropolis all the time (speaking of which, it would seem as though villains tend to love spreading poison through water supplies so you would think the cities would have learned to increase patrol of the sewers). Except, this time the bomb was "laced with encoded nanotechnology [so that] no sooner does a speedster or power ring start fixing the sewers than the nanobytes undo that reconstruction." S.T.A.R. labs, Mr. Terrific and Will Magnus (genius scientist who created the Metal Men) have been unable to do anything.
We've discussed the economic effects of something like this happening before. It's pretty basic. When an external force causes the supply of a good to decrease, price goes up. Take a look at the following detailed chart, which demonstrates this effect:
Indeed, if such destruction did occur then Metropolis would certainly be facing higher prices for water. Although, I think Robinson might be portraying too bleak a picture in this book. Yes, there would be some major hygiene issues and city residents would have to give up on showering for a while...
Yet, it seems to me that despite not having running water throughout the city, drinking water could be shipped in mass quantities from neighboring states. Given the severity of the situation, I think the government could subsidize the costs of transportation. After all, we've seen that DCU governments are not exactly the most frugal. They're willing to dish out loads of cash to fund anti-alien squads when the Justice League is a phone call away. Why not add a line item in the budget for some basic sustenance until this whole mess is straightened out?
Also, what happened to the lucrative bottled water business? I thought that people were drinking that stuff even before Metropolis's sewer system was destroyed. Unless there is only one major bottled water company, it uses "municipal sources" and not springs, and it only has one plant that happens to be located in Metropolis, I think it's a safe bet that there will be plenty of water to drink.
Really, people should not be lumbering down the streets suffering of dehydration. Moreover, Governor Klein should not have to ration the consumption of water. What's worse is that street thugs have now apparently tapped a new black market by selling small quantities at exorbitant rates. I feel like this might be an exaggeration of what would happen in this situation. There would be some discomfort, but as always in Metropolis, everything would work out.
Finally, the price of water has apparently soared to such levels that it now as a street value higher than gold. Granted, I don't know what the "street value" of gold is, but just to give you an idea of what this means, here's a chart on the current market value of gold: