When will the media finally figure out that the most powerful groups on the California left — public employees and environmentalists — use poor people as political props to get their way? Deny teachers their raises based on seniority and accumulation of meaningless graduate credits and you’re “punishing the kids” — no matter what the facts are. Get in the way of climate change policies? Then you’re a heartless cad who doesn’t realize that “low-income communities in California are more vulnerable to climate change-related health risks.” But what about the huge likelihood that AB 32′s main effect will be to impoverish poor people? Instead of prompting the rest of the world to follow California’s lead in switching to cleaner but costlier energy, the geniuses in Sacramento are on the brink of punishing the needy — all so rich greens in West L.A. and the Bay Area can feel good about their purity. Great, just great.
Remember, the preliminary estimate of the impact of AB 32 on the state’s three big utilities was that the electricity costs they pass on to consumers would go up by at least 41 percent to 60 percent by 2020. Given how much of poor families’ income is eaten up by energy costs, especially in hotter inland areas, this is a body blow to millions of struggling Californians. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the amount Americans spent on household electricity is already at a 15-year high, and in California, it’s going to dramatically spike higher.
Then also remember that it wasn’t a right-wing “climate denier” who warned of the huge economic risk of a unilateral shift to costlier energy. It was U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who told Congress in 2009 that if the U.S. undertook such a shift but its trading partners didn’t, the U.S. should launch a trade war.
Here in California, however, with the aid of a clueless media that might as well be a paid wing of the NRDC, Chu’s warning is never discussed. Pass the Green Kool-Aid! Not only will AB 32 not hurt the economy, it will trigger a job boom! Don’t you understand? Higher energy prices are intrinsically a good thing! (Someone better tell the federal Energy Information Administration this is the case. It says higher energy prices are a drag on the economy, slowing growth and prompting inflation. Duh.)
Now I certainly understand the argument that poor people suffer disproportionately because of pollution’s effects, and I concede that sure, there are some sincere greens who are deeply motivated by this fact.
But when the policies that green groups muscle into place create a man-made drought and depression in the Central Valley, drive off dozens of companies, discourage business expansion and give California the second highest unemployment rate of any state, their sincerity is unimportant. They’re hurting people to save snail darters and to feel good about their worldwide leadership on global warming, even though this leadership has no practical effect on global warming.
But will the media of the Golden State ever point out this disconnect between the social justice rhetoric of the left and the practical effect of the policies of the left? Nah. Life in the green tank is good, evidently. And just think of all the dirty looks you’d get in the newsroom if you dared to point out that AB 32′s main effect is going to be making poor people’s lives more difficult.
I used to think it was just economic illiteracy and the inadequacy of a liberal arts education that led so many journalists to believe that broadly higher energy prices not borne by our economic competitors will somehow be good for California’s economy. But maybe peer pressure is the key to this epic parade of stupidity. The cool guys and gals believe the green gibberish. Hey, it must be true!