Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are We Tired of All the Energy Blah Blah Yet?

Hey, don't get me wrong - I am sitting here nervously wondering if next year at this time I might be contemplating losing my house if fuel costs keep going the way they are - but the overweening blather of assorted politicos and others trampling each other to get on the bandwagon of the great energy crisis is getting old.

However annoying it may be, this mad rush by talking heads to offer up profound opinions on what all the rest of us should be doing to correct the situation offers prime views of primate preening.

Recently, Rep. Mike Kelly*, formerly of GVEA, and David Van den Berg, ED of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, got into bed together when they demonstrated their paternalistic attitudes towards others - aka those beneath them, the hoi poi loi, the great unwashed. It's not too surprising however, when one reflects that the most self-righteous tree huggers share much with their conservative NRA-loving counterparts...most particularly a finely-honed hypocrisy that enables them to judge others without looking too closely at their own lives.

In a rare congruence, there were Rep. Kelly and Mr. Van den Berg united in their opposition to Gov. Palin's proposed $100/month energy assistance to Alaskans. Mr. Van den Berg is of the opinion that "if electricity costs half as much as it does now, people would likely use more of of it". (Fairbanks Daily News Miner: Administration re-evaluating its short-term energy plan )

Sure. If I get that $100/month from Palin, you betcha David, that is just what I am going to do with it - turn on every light in my house and leave them burning 24/7. Talk about patronizing; Mr. Van den Berg, an enviro elite, plays Conservation Papa (and not for the first time either) for the rest of us who obviously are too ignorant and too greedy to be able to wisely budget or use any fuel assistance that might come our way.

Rep. Kelly and Mr. Van den Berg also assume that the reason people aren't retrofitting their homes, or buying hybrid cars, or biking to work is because they just are choosing not to. It doesn't enter these elites' heads that there are many people (in fact probably the majority) who simply do not have the financial resources to take on another car loan, front the money for energy retrofits, or have a job/lifestyle that allows them the option of commuter biking.

What makes their sanctimonious comments even more galling is their own lifestyles. Mr. Van den Berg is married to a scioness of the Cook family - and thus quite closely associated with extractive resources of the oily sort. He drives a pick-up truck, and owns a guiding/rafting business that utilizes heavily small aircraft to ferry supplies and high-paying clients in and out of remote places.

Rep. Kelly, as a member of the Fairbanks political and business elite, surely does not face the same financial constraints that a majority of Alaskans, urban and rural, are dealing with now as energy costs escalate. Rep. Kelly is also very fond of flying his private plane all over Alaska, and enjoys access to remote places of this state that many of us only dream about. Yet he too feels very qualified to speak on the subject of energy conservation, especially as it applies to the rest of us.

Personally, I don't really care how either of these two use energy - but I do care when they presume to speak for the rest of us, especially when they suggest that we are all too ignorant to make wise decisions about how to cope with escalating energy costs.

*Not my representative - I didn't vote for the man!


Deirdre Helfferich said...

This is the major problem with all these "incentives" to Do the Right Energy Thing--they aren't really incentives. They are tax rebates (like I regularly earn enough to make use of a $2,000 tax credit--which you have to itemize for--although one or two years I did), or refunds for retrofits (which assumes that you own the place you live in AND have the moola to front the retrofit). How about providing vouchers instead, redeemable for insulation, or for a triple-paned window, or 25 low-watt long-life compact florescent bulbs? How about the state also investing big bucks in, say, wind power generators in all those windy rural villages (so that in three to five years when the cost of energy REALLY goes up, there will be something there, in place, to offset that cost)? How about sponsoring free tuneups for old cars, or offering low-income folks with old gas guzzlers a grand down on a newer, more efficient car? Or at least a buy 'em a bike.

Conservative Alaskan said...

If you can't afford to live in Alaska - MOVE!

CabinDweller said...

Ah, the one sentence that inevitably shows up in any discussion of the issues in Alaska, the "if you don't like/can't afford/won't participate in it move" line. Which really adds nothing to the discussion.

The only more overused phrase starts with "Real Alaskans..."

CabinDweller said...

Actually, what I should have said is:

Feel free to leave a comment that advances the discussion. That doesn't mean another one sentence cliche, like "It is all FDR's fault."

But the "if you can't afford it, move" line is worthy only of the ADN and FDNM comments sections.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

I'll say. I was born here, Bucko, and I'll be here long after the post-pipeline flushes whoosh you all back to the Lower 48 [this isn't directed at you, o CabinDweller].

Not being able to afford the so-called generosity of federal tax rebates doesn't mean I can't afford to live here. It may mean going to cabin-dwelling in a fully plumbed and electrified house if things get bad enough--but that's a long way away yet. We've got our backup wood stove, and we do our share of dumpster diving, gardening, and winter window insulating. We've also got five cats, sweaters, longjohns, and slippers.

Well, actually, we've been doing the annual spring-plumbing-freezeup version of cabin-dwelling in the plumbed house anyway. (One of this summer's Big Projects is digging up the septic line. O joy.) Means we used the outhouse a lot this spring. But we usually use it all summer anyway, because it's sunny and breezy and has a nice view.

More than one way to be a conservative Alaskan.

FlictheBic said...

I am taking no little pride in the fact that my posts seem to bring the eloquent with their pithy profoundities out in droves...

ConservativeAlaskan missed the point, as I know I dont need to, well, point out. I burned only 100 gallons of fuel oil this winter (using mostly wood), and have winterized and conservatized my house as much as I can afford to, and am still feeling the pinch...move? Why? the reason being? I'm kvetching about the sanctimonious, not about the energy costs...though lord knows they're a drag. By the way, great ideas Deirdre - you should run for office....

Deirdre Helfferich said...

Run for office? gads. I do hope that was tongue in cheek...I've got enough to do with running a newspaper (and repairing my house, ho ho). Public service is a serious investment of time. I may find some of the borough assemblypersons' and legislators' positions ridiculous, but I appreciate their willingness to spend all that time plowing through paperwork and research and just plain showing up for the boring stuff....