The plight of tree-hugging trust fund baby

This is not an easy story to tell because it's so personal.  For most of my life I had a very close friend who was the archetypical tree-hugging trust fund baby.  His mother's father amassed an adequate fortune after escaping a tsarist penal colony in Siberia and eventually making it to Los Angeles.  My friend was raised to be an idealist, and he imparted in me a profound love of nature in all its forms.

The disconnect began to show as we entered adulthood.  Though he never held a real job, he was able to buy his house with cash.  Insurance to him was a scam and, having no mortgage, he was able to avoid buying a policy.  I was startled and amazed at this information.  He explained that since the house was made of limestone blocks held together by gravity and inertia, it couldn't burn.  I tried to make the point that there's a thing called liability.  Should one of his kids leave a roller skate on the sidewalk, and a passerby takes a spill, and gets a fractured pelvis, that person would then own the house and a big chunk of his bank account.  His parents eventually talked him into it (or maybe they just bought it for him).

His sister did hold some jobs.  I once hired her to work in my printing shop, but she soon quit, since whenever she finished a task, a new one was assigned to her.  She was more comfortable sitting behind the counter of a small store, waiting for a customer to enter.  A few years later, I told her about my plan to install a dishwasher in my old-fashioned kitchen.  She told me that was a bad idea because they use too much energy.  "What about my energy?" I thought.  After all, she would think nothing of flying from Boston to Los Angeles just to see her dentist.

I bring all this up to demonstrate the cultural mentality that is pushing the "Green New Deal."  Excessive bourgeois comfort and prosperity seem to disable commonsense survival instincts.  I have long maintained that for a nation to have an effective environmental ethic, it has to have a large and prosperous middle class.  Peasant societies are prone to burn down forests to open more space for agriculture.  But now we have reached an extreme that maybe should have been predicted.

Adult sensibilities are now in short supply, at least among the green idealists.  Also, in my long past days as an environmental journalist, I realized the inherent conflict between the prosperous middle class and the hardworking blue-collar labor force.  This was recently brought to mind when I got a mailer from the Alameda County Central Labor Council.  It was a condemnation of the Sierra Club for opposing the creation of an outgoing coal terminal at the Port of Oakland.  Had the tree-huggers thought this through, they would've realized that China was going to get the coal no matter what, even if it had to come from Tacoma or Long Beach instead of Oakland.  The cancelation of the Keystone XL Pipeline construction project is an even more recent example of this misguided malfeasance.

As a logical consequence of this inherent conflict, the Joe and Joanne Sixpacks of America have been changing their political allegiances.  Mr. Trump clearly demonstrated that cutting back authoritarian micromanagement of economic activity improves the standard of living of the most ordinary of people.  The authoritarians are viciously fighting back.  As casualties mount, opinions may further change.  But there's also a second front — within the Greenies themselves.  Some of the more serious climate change warriors are getting on board with nuclear power — zero carbon, don't you know?  To others, this is anathema.  My trust fund baby friend once told me he'd rather see the Rocky Mountains strip-mined into oblivion than see another nuclear power plant.  Stay tuned.

Image: kamilszerlag via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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