The Runaway Costs Of The Green Class Divide
As gasoline prices in the US continue to surge to an unprecedented $7 a gallon in some places, President Joe Biden seems more interested in finding someone to blame than mitigating the problem. [bold, links added]
‘Make no mistake, inflation is largely the fault of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’, the president said on Friday at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference.
The president then cited a ‘fact checker’ in the New York Times and a Washington Post op-ed to counter anyone daring to lay the blame for skyrocketing prices at the feet of the president of the United States.
Of course, Biden is right that his decision to ban Russian oil and gas from the US market – a popular move, which 80 percent of Americans approved of – has exacerbated these trends.
But in trying to lay the blame of a year-long trend entirely at Putin’s feet because of a war that started three weeks ago, Biden is erasing the ongoing struggle American families have been facing, enlisting a foreign foe to cover for his domestic failures.
And it’s the very people the Democratic Party claims to care about who are suffering the most as a result of those failures.
A new Wall Street Journal poll found that 35 percent of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American voters were feeling the sting of inflation, compared to just 28 percent of white voters.
Among black women and Hispanic men, the proportion was even higher, at 44 percent. And of course, for those making less than $60,000, it was the worst, with half feeling the pain of inflation – compared to just 13 percent of those making over $150,000.
It’s perhaps no surprise that it’s those whose incomes protect them from the sting of inflation who are most vocal about how willing they are to pay more for petrol – lecturing those who can least afford it about the importance of doing so on moral grounds.
In fact, the president was one of many in the liberal elite – people who couldn’t tell you how much a gallon of milk or a pound of ground meat cost if their lives depended on it – to suggest that doing the ‘right thing’ is going to cost Americans.
‘I’ll happily pay more for gas for her’, Bette Midler, who is worth $250 million, tweeted with a photo of a Ukrainian child.
‘Americans: We can endure higher prices for food and gas if it means putting the screws to Putin’, tweeted Star Trek actor George Takei.
‘A clear conscience is worth a buck or two’, late-night host Stephen Colbert, who makes $15 million a year, lectured Americans last week: ‘I’m willing to pay. I’m willing to pay $4 a gallon. Hell, I’ll pay $15 a gallon because I drive a Tesla.’
At least he said the quiet part out loud. But beyond the unbelievable chutzpah of a millionaire who drives a $100,000 car lecturing working-class Americans about – well, anything, really – Colbert’s commentary, like that of the president and the other millionaire moralists, implies that complaining about the cost of gasoline somehow means that you aren’t a patriot or simply don’t care about freedom – or Ukrainians.
It’s your fault if you can’t afford to pay, don’t you see? If you were a better person, you would pony up and find the cash.
This is just the latest example of American elites dressing up their class privilege as morality – and then asking the working class to pay the price. It’s class warfare under the guise of moral virtue, like so much of what passes for leftist thought today. …snip…
But there is a deep tension between the utopian environmental goals, in proposals like the Green New Deal, and the interests of the working class – not just in terms of the price of gas and electricity being forced upward, but also from the perspective of jobs.
Take the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have connected the Alberta oil sands in Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas, but was blocked by Biden on his first day in office.
On Friday, the president pooh-poohed the idea that his cancellation of the pipeline has impacted the price of fuel.
‘The Keystone Pipeline was two years away,’ he said. ‘It had been two percent finished. Give me a break.’ It’s a facetious argument, though.
It’s not just the pipeline, either. The fracking industry, which progressive environmental torchbearer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced legislation to ban, also offers jobs that provide significant upward mobility for those employed in it.
The fracking boom has massively reduced income inequality in places like North Dakota, while a national ban on fracking would cost upward of 14 million jobs that provide security and a middle-class lifestyle to millions of Americans.
If you want to see how environmental policy furthers inequality, look no further than California, which is the state most committed to decarbonizing its energy supply.
It is now the most energy-efficient state – as well as the state with the highest poverty rate in America.
Twenty percent of Californians live in poverty, and a growing number of academics have been tying that poverty to the cost of living – including to the cost of energy.
Since 2011, the cost of electricity in California has increased five times as fast as the rest of the US.
Rising electricity prices in California have disproportionately impacted low-income families.
In practice, this means that black and Latino households are spending 20 to 40 percent more of their household incomes on energy than white households, the esteemed environmental lawyer Jennifer Hernandez found in a 2021 paper titled ‘Green Jim Crow’.
In 2020, nearly four million California households – or 30 percent of Californians – faced energy poverty. Meanwhile, more than two million households were forced to spend between 10 and 27 percent of their total income on home energy.
The cost of ‘energy efficiency’ is being paid by those who can least afford it – thanks largely to the policy preferences of Californians with household incomes 80 percent higher than the national average.
Perhaps this green class divide is no surprise. After all, who could forget John Kerry, Biden’s climate tsar, traveling to accept an environmental award in a private jet?
‘It’s the only choice for somebody like me, who is traveling the world to win this battle’, was how a visibly annoyed Kerry defended himself to a reporter last year. A climate hero like me… travel coach?
And yet, despite the obvious tension between working-class interests and environmental maximalism, when pressed on what he is going to do to combat surging gas prices, President Biden has only doubled down on green-energy policies like solar, wind, electric cars and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels – in other words, the very policies that are contributing to the immiseration of California’s working-class where they have been implemented.
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