Misanthrope: Noun – A person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society.
Harsh! But perhaps I had it coming.
I think I’ll back up a bit and tell you where this is coming from. Four months ago I posted
Word For The Day: Green Jobs in which I opined that Green Jobs were…ahem…bullshit. Then, like many things I do, I forgot about it.
A few days ago a commenter responded to my post indicating that I was a misanthrope due to my views on Green Jobs. To wit “Your attitude towards the progression of civilization is nothing short than that of a textbook misanthrope.” Yes, I approved the comment in moderation so it’s there in it’s entirety if you wish to read it.
I suppose I should expect to be called a misanthrope occasionally. After all I’ve joked about electric cars and tofu; thus insulting two politically connected interest groups. I should have seen it coming.
The question is, what shall I do with the comment? Delete it? Weep? Hang my head in shame? Start a flame war? Nah.
You see, it’s an election year. Specifically an election year following 2008; a time period I think of as “the madness”. In preparation for whatever happens this go ’round, I made a New Years Resolution to earnestly try to coexist peacefully with people who loathe me. How fortunate that someone presented me with this opportunity. Rather than rant or launch a troll fest, I’m going to try a response in good faith. Incidentally, this comment was a reminder that I get a shockingly small amount of negative commentary; how lucky I am to be reminded how supportive all my
six readers have been.
Please note, misanthrope or not, I’m not going to say one negative thing about the commenter. Second note, I’m under no first amendment obligation to feed trolls (not that I’m portraying the commenter as one) or change my stripes. I’m just trying this as an experiment.
Lets start with my “attitude toward the progression of civilization”. It’s true that some parts of civilization annoy me: non-dairy creamer, car leases, disco, bank fees, and frappechinos. But for the most part I love civilization. Civilization is the reason I don’t have to crouch by a fire in a mud hut clutching a spear and eating tree bark. Civilization has made my lifestyle better than that of a generation ago and a vastly superior to the greatest of kings throughout most of human history. Yay civilization. We both love civilization! Common ground, no?
As for making “fantasy” into reality. I’m all for that too. I like electric lights, refrigerated beer, polio vaccines, motorcycles, antibiotics, strawberries in January, and high yield crops. This blog certainly wasn’t distributed by mimeograph. I’d totally dig more “fantasies” becoming reality; including some “green” ideas such as solar panels that hack my electric bill to zero or a really cheap and reliable biomass pellet stove. More common ground eh?
Nor am I anti-environment. I love the environment. I happen to live on Earth. Therefore I want it to be a pleasant place. Moreover I live on a little farm; you can’t “homestead” if you can’t hack a close and personal relationship with nature. I don’t view the environment as an enemy or a pretty picture on a fund raiser calendar. I’m out there in it as much as possible.
I’m also cheap. This wasn’t mentioned by either of us but it’s an important value to me. Thrifty. Waste not, want not. Penny saved is a penny earned. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Etcetera.
Why mention being a cheapskate? Because it relates to “sustainable”. The whole point of “sustainable” is balancing your resource consumption with it’s production. When I see waste I go after it with a meat cleaver. This should dovetail nicely with “green” ideals. Me and my little homestead are about as “sustainable” as I can reasonably get; “green” folks should love me.
But the “green” movement and me aren’t the pals we should be. Here’s why; I deeply value the freedom to make my own choices. I refuse to subordinate myself to others who would control me in the name of the environment or anything else. I’ll leave that for visionaries and true believers. Count me out.
Visionaries and true believers might be noble. They might be awesome. They might have nice hair and winning smiles. I don’t doubt their sincerity. But the fight is on when anyone tries to pry open my wallet.
Which brings me to jobs. Real jobs. Not “green jobs”. “Green jobs”, as they are defined and experienced in America, are jobs that couldn’t survive in the market place without subsidy. Otherwise they’d be called just plain “jobs”. For example, my little hatchback gets phenomenal MPG and that’s why I bought it. The manufacturer didn’t need a subsidy and I didn’t need to be forced to buy it. I gave them my money of my own volition and at the price the market would bear. Thus the act of building a high MPG hatchback is not called a “green job”; it’s just called a job. In practice, any “green job” that turns a profit without subsidy quickly becomes just another “job”.
I resent “green jobs” because they’re subsidized with my tax dollars. Who wouldn’t resent being forced to buy things they don’t want? I resent “green technology” subsidies that funnel my tax dollars into any technology that can’t generate research and development funds on it’s own merit.
So there you have it. Anyone who wants a “green” thing and does so without my taxes is welcome to do so. In fact I applaud it. There is nothing wrong with all sorts of “green” ideas but money extracted from a taxpayer is extortion. The fact that it’s for a “good cause” doesn’t change the underlying coercion. Our language reflects this by differentiating between plain old “jobs” and “green jobs”.
But hey, that’s just my opinion. There are hordes of folks on the Internet that’ll see it in a different light. They’ll discuss very good reasons why taxes should be extracted from party A for whatever movement party B supports. Often the reasons are excellent. Often the hypothetical results will be ultra-groovy. Often folks will go with it. Over the last few decades America (and Europe) have gotten really into the game of extracting from A to pay for B.
I, however, don’t like it. I’ll always make a fuss when someone reaches for my wallet. Yes, that causes me to go on rants about the Chevy Volt and other sacred cows. No, that doesn’t make me a misanthrope.