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.
What I see in the reply to the original post is the common behaviour nowadays is people making far reaching assumptions based on minimal evidence. If you think A, then you MUST think B C and D as well, right on through to Z. I get this from my neocon friends and ultra liberal friends alike. If you’re not in favor of gun control then you think that criminals having guns is OK, or if you are in favor of some form of gun registration for hand guns, then you think no one should own guns, etc.
It’s the very common format of argumentation that everything must be taken to its illogical extreme. With no other clue about you, the responder to that post makes huge and mosty incorrect assumptions. they proceed from the smallest grain of information and build an entire strawman, rather than intelligently asking “Wait, do you mean X or Y here?” Because they’ve been spoon fed this method for argument from all their media outlets and by US politics etc. Stopping, thinking of what the original poster meant, and making a well reasoned inquiry is out of fashion, far better to come out with all guns a blazing and blast that fucker right now!
Nevermind that you might actually might find yourself agreeing on many key points if you stop long enough to ask them what they mean by some point, or to expound on the subject. Oh heck no, it’s far more fun to turn on the massive flame cannon and WIN like you’re Charlie Sheen! America! Fuck yeah!
The lack of reasoned and civil discourse is a sad thing. The win-at-all-costs-take-no-prisoners-us-versus-them attitude that is so common reminds of children on a playground.
Neoconservatism was originally used to describe liberals who decided liberalism had moved too far left. In essence they are still to the left of traditional conservatives.
More recently it has been used as a pejorative to describe the extreme right. It’s like using “Tar sands” (tar has nothing to do with oil… tar pits eventually became coal) instead of “Oil sands” (because it is oil,.. not tar)
“What I see in the reply to the original post is the common behaviour nowadays is people making far reaching assumptions based on minimal evidence. If you think A, then you MUST think B C and D as well, right on through to Z.”
Would carry far more credibility if you hadn’t ceased using the measured language throughout the post in favor of using the pejorative slur.
Wow, way to analyze the language of my post without actually analyzing the content of it.
Green jobs- just another way the Left is trying to go back to the old days of the Middle Ages. Just, instead of Aristocrats, you have the government telling you what you can and cannot do. Instead of the Church directing and controlling every aspect of thought, you have academia. Just replace serfdom with union membership, and you’re there.
After all, the short and miserable life of a pesant is pretty much the green dream… for other people at least.
My wife and I had this discussion about ‘locavore’ eating the other day. She used to be a hippie, in college, and thinks woodland creatures are cute, but she’s a businesswoman now, and still an avowed democrat. I grew up on a farm in Montana, and I like to hunt, kill and eat those woodland creatures that are so cute. Neither of us really count as ‘hipsters’ nor do we identify with the locavore trend because of its cool, hip, and trendy nature. Rest assured, to quote Zaphod Beeblebrox, that I am ‘so unhip its a wonder my bum doesn’t fall off.’ But we love eating local. Here in OR, its not too difficult, there are plenty of CSA and Farmer’s Markets. I dislike the attitude associated with it, but I love the product. The attitude of a lot of the locals (especially more in Portland proper) is one of, “I do this because its what the cool kids do, I’m making a difference in the world, and I’m better than you.” However, I go to the farmer’s market to buy the food. Food, directly from grower to consumer. No time sitting in a truck on I-90, shipping the corn in from the midwest. No strawberries picked bright green in Chile 14 weeks ago. Real food, grown close, picked and eaten fresh. When somebody shows up in their Prius, or their Volt, or some similar such vehicle, and buys a bunch of local hemp art, and maybe a veggie or two, to self-abuse their environmental feel-good, I feel not much but disgust, and you know what? I’m willing to bet the actual farmers do, too.
“However, I go to the farmer’s market to buy the food. Food, directly from grower to consumer. No time sitting in a truck on I-90, shipping the corn in from the midwest. No strawberries picked bright green in Chile 14 weeks ago. Real food, grown close, picked and eaten fresh.”
I go to our local farmers market because the food tastes so darn good. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it is so worth it.
We don’t really have the option of owning chickens right now, but we have been buying eggs from a local farmer for years (we’ll pick up as many as 20 dozen at a time and distribute amongst my nearby relatives and friends 🙂 A while ago we ran out of his eggs and had to buy some from the store. My husband bought them. They were ‘free range’ and almost $4 a dozen.
They tasted like shit. LITERALLY. I nearly threw the entire box in the trash. My tightwad genes won out, however, and I ended up using them, drowning their awful factory farm flavor in loads of salsa.
Love your blog, BTW, AC. Even if you do occasionally bash us farmers market goers. 🙂
Green jobs don’t exist without heavy public subsidy. They can’t stand on their own.
Here in San Antonio, the local power company has a program of energy from West Texas “wind farms”. Participation in the program is voluntary by the rate payers/customers. The catch is that the wind energy is more expensive per kilowatt hour than that derived from coal or nukes. This is a fact, not a Luddite reaction. Solar power is the same. The Green’s want investment only in the politically correct “alternative energies”, and will not accept anything else. I agree that if we relied on Green energy concepts, we would retreat to the Middle Ages and our population would suffer a holocaust of death. The Green Grid cannot support our level of civilization.
I consider “green technology” to be Fantasy. Even the Autopia Cars at Disneyland run on natural gas. The funny thing about energy is that there are many laws that govern it, such as “Conservation of”. Unless someone discovers that biomass is a good source of antimatter, I’m not ready to bite.
society is not civilization. that said, the direction our SOCIETY s heading seems to me to be counterproductive to advancing civilization. (imho). as a misanthrope in training, I wear the badge proudly.I see misanthropy as a complement not an insult. III
What you are, sir, is not a misanthrope, but a Crank. Me too. A Crank is someone who insists on thinking about things, rather than simply emoting about them. Somebody who is willing to do the math. Somebody who asks questions like “OK, the electric car sounds great, in heory. Now, what are we going to be doing about the worn out batteries?”.
As a Crank, I am in favor of Gay Marriage because to date nobody has been able to explain to me why whatever Gay men there may be who wish to live monogamously should not have legal protection against those who do not, but lie.
As a Crank, I note that all environmentalist-approved sources of electricity are either A) in no immediate danger of being put into use or B) useless from a practical point of view for one reason or another.
As a Crank, I expect to be reviled by both sides of the Political Opinion By Subscription (usually to Rush on one side and the New York Times on the other) Club, and to have cheerful arguments with fellow Cranks, who are unlikely to agree with me on much.
I have a very simple test to determine if the action I am expected to perform for whatever reason, such as recycling, is worthwhile: will somebody pay me to do it?
I’ve been told that paper bags from the supermarket are recyclable, and that the plastic bags consume less energy. Hy-Vee cuts a dime off my bill for every bag I bring to haul my own groceries away, and since we don’t get trash service out where I live nor is anybody offering to give me money to not burn then bury what trash I produce, the whole paper vs. plastic argument is entirely irrelevant to me — they both burn the same in the barrel.
Let’s move on to tires. Or car batteries. Or aluminum cans. Or wind energy. Make it worth my while. Heck, make it worth *anything* other than some codswallop feel-good rah-rah prattle. If it’s worth so much to *you* that I not toss diapers in a landfill, make it worth my while not to.
So far no takers.
Ooh, Jon, I like M words too.How about these: Mirror, misguided, moocher, missing(the point), malcontent, moron, momma’s boy.
Whoa there. As much fun as it is, I’m avoiding anything personal for the moment. Let’s pretend for the purposes of this experiment that the original commenter is a fully employed rational adult who legitimately believes what he says. For now lets seize the high road.
The reason for my attitude is unrelated to Green Jobs. It’s 2012 and we might as well brace for an entire election cycle where we’ll inevitably be called a knuckle dragging racist jerks over and over again. Being called a misanthrope was just a warm up. Might as well get used to it now and practice our ability to smile and let it go. It can’t hurt right?
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