Suppose you had a neighbor with whom nobody in town really got along. Folks agreed that he was crazy as an outhouse mouse, that he was constantly causing trouble, and that nobody’d get upset if he took a dirt nap.
He didn’t cut his grass, let alone bathe regularly, and every time he had folks over for a party, they played their music too loud and left trash throughout the whole neighborhood. Nobody much wanted to listen to his opinions, because most of those could’ve come out of the local mental ward and been more coherent.
But for some reason, he could always get the ear of the politicians.
Pretty soon, your gasoline taxes started going up, and the awesome, comfortable, fast cars you grew up with slowly became too expensive to drive. When you asked why, you were told that your cars were destroying the planet and you needed to drive a smaller car-but ultimately to bicycle, walk, or take public transit everywhere.
Then your power bill grew a ‘fuel charge’ a ‘carbon offset’ charge, and a few other charges that you really couldn’t pay because of the rising gasoline prices.
Then your water bill grew an ‘aquifer management’ charge. You went to drill a groundwater well to water your lawn, and the local authorities told you that, if you could even get a permit, lawns were bad for the environment and you were now required to xeriscape, a term which meant planting whatever drought-tolerant stuff grew anyway when your grass died-except then Code Enforcement came around and wrote you a ticket for not cutting your weeds.
Then your kids came home from school spouting about Earth Day and Mother Gaia and how we humans were all destroying the planet, so everything had to be recycled.
In disgust, you packed up your gear and went hunting, only to be confronted by your crazy neighbor about killing Bambi. Killing him with your deer rifle, while easy and satisfying, would get you talked about, so you went back home, only to find a citation on your door requiring an energy efficiency audit.
So you phoned your other neighbor to ask what was going on. He said that the crazy neighbor had convinced the city council, the statehouse, and the congress to pass all sorts of laws and regulations, and could you please excuse him because his kids had a school assignment to make a wind turbine out of popsicle sticks and were getting environmentally friendly glue all over his bamboo bicycle.
Then the light bulb in your reading lamp burned out while you were trying to see how much less was in your checkbook because of the expense. You went down to the store… but there weren’t any light bulbs you recognized; you had a choice of $3-7 curliqueue things that carried a big warning about mercury content, or LED bulbs that cost $10-50 each, were dimmer than you liked, but only cost pennies a year to use.
Well, then you sat down in your darkened and sweltering house-the air conditioner died and you couldn’t afford one of the new ones with ozone-safe refrigerant-and asked yourself how you got into this mess and what you were going to do about it. The way you figured things, you had these options:
1) Lynch the loon. You decided that, although that sounded like fun, tar was outlawed, feathers cost too much because of the sustainability tax, and hemp rope, the only environmentally approved product around was too expensive. Not to mention that rails had to be logged in a sustainable manner, and were thus too rich for your blood.
2) Burn him out. Alas, gasoline was too expensive and they didn’t make those old ‘strike anywhere’ matches anymore because of the phosphorus in the heads.
3)Get active, vote out the idiot politicians who’d listened to the nutjob, and replace them with adults with IQs somewhat higher than bread mold.
But you’d better do that quick, because your kookoo neighbor and his nutsy pals were trying to convince the United Nations to give Mother Gaia human rights-and if they do we’ll all be living in mud huts, teepees, or grass shacks.
All humor aside, this little vingette is basically what has happened, thanks to the environmental movement, in this country and in most of the Western industrialized world.
Have you noticed that everything ‘green’ either doesn’t work as well(R-134 refrigerant), is more expensive(energy and water-conserving washing machines), is more dangerous(compact fluorescent lightbulbs and their mercury content), or is less comfortable-ever ridden in a SmartCar or a Chevy Cobalt? In a truly free market, only people like the whack-job fictional(although too many like him do exist-and vote!)neighbor would buy such products. I’ve personally been forced by rising electrical rates to buy both hazmat bulbs and the millionaire-priced diode bulbs instead of cheap old filament globes in the hope that the high initial investment will pay off down the line in lower power bills. I would not have made this choice if my power bill wasn’t almost a dime and a nickel per KwH when it used to be a nickel per KwH until they packed on the fuel charge.
So satiric fiction is no longer satiric, nor fictional, nor humorous. Wherever you live, you probably know some freak like my made-up example. You can’t help him or her; he or she is likely unwilling to examine himself or herself in the depth necessary to be free of the all-consuming self-hatred that drives him or her to foist the 21st century equivalent of flagellation and penance belts on the rest of us.
You can, however, outthink-and outvote-these people. If you can show your other neighbors just how the environmental movement is hurting them while delivering few if any actual pluses into their lives, you can remove the politicians who created these policies and install some who will reverse same.
Then you can ignore your sad, self-loathing, unbathing neighbor… as long as you don’t let him near the seat of power again.