19 September, 2007

Leftist Contradictions: Forced Energy Use to Avoid "Urban Blight"

Check out this inadvertently hilarious piece on page one of yesterday's WSJ illustrating how an absolutist (as opposed to a trade-off-acknowledging) world view on the left end of the political spectrum leads to infighting and hypocritical contradictions galore.

Susan Taylor... strung a clothesline to a tree in her backyard, pinned up some freshly washed flannel sheets -- and, with that, became a renegade. The regulations of the subdivision in which Ms. Taylor lives effectively prohibit outdoor clotheslines... the development's managers have threatened legal action. To the developer and many residents, clotheslines evoke the urban blight they sought to avoid by settling in the Oregon mountains...

Ms. Taylor and her supporters argue that clotheslines are one way to fight climate change, using the sun and wind instead of electricity. "Days like this, I can do multiple loads, and within two hours, it's done," said Ms. Taylor. "It smells good, and it feels different than when it comes out of the dryer." ...

Clothes dryers account for 6% of total electricity consumed by U.S. households, third behind refrigerators and lighting... [emphasis added]
For the uninitiated, "urban blight" is an elitist code word for "poor people". If you're on the left however, you don't want to come right out and say that because, well... that would seem terribly intolerant and snobbish--which of course, it is. This vignette is just another skirmish in a long war between contradictory impulses within modern leftist thought as I wrote about last fall. A 'green' developer friend had written me an e-mail about her disdain for an affordable housing developer friend of mine just down the street. She opined:
"The intersection between green and affordable housing is rather tenuous, as these guys never really have enough money to do anything... I've learned I need to stay away from the AH [affordable housing] guys, since their mission appears the same, but really isn't. AH is generally pretty cheap construction - the opposite of the high quality stuff I'm doing."
Without realizing it though, she got one thing right: increasing wealth is one of the best antidotes to environmental degradation... provided, that is, that condo associations don't put in fascist-style regulations about what one can and cannot do with one's laundry on one's own property. Spend trillions on global warming prevention however, and that wealth is never created. (It is a gross fallacy, btw--and one that the she-devil supports--that regulatory compliance and/or anticipatory spending of this kind creates wealth. It does not. It merely moves it around.)

I'm not even going to touch the motivation for WSJ woman's laundry-hanging: a megalomaniacal and unassailable faith that humans are causing global warming and therefore have the power to stop it. There are plenty of other excellent reasons to save energy (e.g., as I did yesterday, walking nearly ten miles to three different meetings around town). One of the best ones is this.

UPDATE: Yet more environmental hypocrisy: save water!... unless it means having to look at your brown lawn...