Pursuit of the Green Dream Will Make Inequality a LOT Worse


Jane Menton

There are different ways of looking at the issue of human inequality. The modern Left obsesses about inequality as measured in dollars of income.  But if one measures inequality based on quality-of-life, it quickly becomes clear that we have achieved great progress toward equality on the things that really count. Much of that progress is at risk of reversal from imposition of the green dream.

By the time I was born in the late twentieth century, comforts that had begun in the exclusive domain of the very wealthy had long since become widely available to most hard working people. I’m thinking of things like cars and personal travel, but also small scale conveniences like in-home washers, dryers and dishwashers. All of these things, of course, were brought to us by the widespread access and affordability of electricity and fossil fuels.

But even as the baseline human experience improved, the Left has continued to campaign on the moral abomination that is persistent “income inequality.” This is “inequality” as measured by dollars of income and ability to buy super luxuries.  The rich don’t just travel, they travel via yacht and private jet. And the cities where wealth accumulates, like New York and San Francisco, are, according to their own voters, the worst offenders. Former New York Mayor de Blasio campaigned, and won, on the theme of a “Tale of Two Cities,” the “inequality that increasingly divided New York along the fault lines of fabulous wealth and grinding poverty.”  Guilty New Yorkers fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

It is true that New York is home to some of the wealthiest people in the world.  But it is also true that the poorest people in the city still have widespread access to decent housing with heat, plumbing, food, and transportation — things that were out of reach to most poor Americans in the 19th or even well into the 20th century. They also have widespread access to electricity, and as a result many have televisions, telephones, and modern healthcare – things that did not even exist until the 20th century.

Throughout history, “poverty” once meant something very different from what it means in America today, and the difference in quality of life between the rich and the poor was stark. Being poor often meant living in one room shacks with inadequate access to food, while being rich meant living in mansions staffed with servants to attend to one’s every need.  That’s what “income inequality” once meant, and that’s what income inequality still means in many parts of the developing world. Quality of life in America only started to change dramatically after the industrial revolution and the introduction of widespread electricity and fossil fuels. And the number one thing that keeps the developing world under-developed is its limited access to those two things.

But the same politicians and voters who don’t seem to have noticed how much better the human condition has been in America in the 21st century also haven’t realized how much worse it will be if they achieve their goal of eliminating human use of fossil fuels. In fact, the dream of ending “inequality” directly conflicts with the dream of ending reliance on fossil fuels.

Laws that restrict or aim to eradicate the use of fossil fuels take direct aim at the quality of life for America’s middle and lower classes — that forgotten group existing between “fabulous wealth” and “grinding poverty.” Laws that restrict fossil fuel usage will automatically raise the cost of electricity, meaning people will have to pay more for the same level of use or immediately start cutting back. The first people to make cutbacks will be those who live on the tightest budgets, the types who will notice if their annual heating bill suddenly goes up by $500 or even $1000. This is the average American, not the 1%, and it’s already becoming a reality in Europe: a friend recently confessed to me that her extended family in Italy had moved from two apartments into one for the winter because collectively they could only afford to heat one apartment. My friend thought that was a reasonable sacrifice to make to protect the climate. Might communal housing soon become an economic necessity for many?

Here are just a few things that we currently take for granted that will quickly become difficult to afford as fossil fuels get restricted: heat and air-conditioning, driving for leisure or for any purpose outside of commuting for work, taking family vacations. If electricity becomes exorbitantly expensive, people will be forced to cut back on lighting their homes and using their appliances. Then there are even bigger questions that have yet to be addressed: how will we farm without fossil fuels? How will we run a hospital and provide life-saving care without reliable electricity? Who can say what that will do to our access to food and healthcare.

But the bottom line is: When the eggs go up to $10, the middle class notices, but the wealthy won’t. When gas goes from $2.95 to $4.05, the middle class notices, but the wealthy won’t. The lower, middle, and upper-middle classes will be making cut backs for a while before any of the rich have to do the same. 

It’s amazing how quickly we could find ourselves living in a world where the vast majority of people have become poorer, in the sense of struggling to meet their basic living standard, while only a few elites have access to the things we currently take for granted. We see that already in the celebrity poster-children for climate change, e.g. Leonardo DiCaprio, who continues to fly private and summer on a yacht in the Mediterranean, unaffected by the rising costs of fuel. This is not an outlandish claim or an impossibility, rather it would simply be returning to a meaning of “inequality” we had successfully left in the past. 

The beauty of our freedom-based economic order has been closing that quality of life gap between the rich and the poor, but all the progress we’ve made to lift the living standard for ordinary people could be undone with the wave of a politician’s pen. And when that day comes, the Bill de Blasios and Bernie Sanders of the world won’t be responsible for solving inequality, they’ll be responsible for creating it.

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March 26, 2023 10:58 pm

You talk about communal housing, but in fact, families in the middle ages had to do that all the time. They shared the heat with their animals. We won’t be allowed to do that, because the greens won’t allow us to have animals.

Reply to  Hivemind
March 27, 2023 4:32 am

It is great fossil fuels came to the rescue, as otherwise the vast majority of folks would freeze their butts off, in the dark, while starving, without proper healthcare and drinking water, dying young, working 60 to 70 hours per week

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  wilpost
March 27, 2023 4:47 am

but… but… we’d all be equal– except of course for the aristocracy like Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Gates…

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 27, 2023 5:35 am

Equally screwed, poor, and praying in the fancy cathedrals, with the rich up front, or having their own chapel within castle walls

Reply to  wilpost
March 27, 2023 5:42 pm

Pillars of the Earth

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 27, 2023 6:56 am

But they work harder than us.

Reply to  DWM
March 27, 2023 1:57 pm

Love that comment echoing useless Kerry and his fleet of private planes
Gee, what is climate-fighting hero to do. FLY COMMERCIAL!!!
Remember, he was useless as early as the Kennedy years

Reply to  wilpost
March 27, 2023 11:26 am

Fossil fuels can be synthesized.

Reply to  n.n
March 27, 2023 2:38 pm

At a very large cost in money and energy, giving them an intrinsically very high selling price.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Hivemind
March 27, 2023 4:45 am

darn, nothing like a big fat cow in your house to add a lot of body heat when you have to depend on your solar panels to keep you warm at night in winter 🙂

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 27, 2023 4:59 am

Be careful with lit candles.

Reply to  Hivemind
March 27, 2023 12:18 pm

Remember, The song “Three dog nite” was based on fact!

John Hultquist
March 26, 2023 11:14 pm

Leonardo DiCaprio
One fool of many. Make a list: The Wall of Shame 😒

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Hultquist
March 27, 2023 4:48 am

high school drop out- but I like most of his movies

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  John Hultquist
March 27, 2023 6:54 am

A great example of ‘progressive’ hypocrisy. He also ditches his girlfriends when they reach 25.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 27, 2023 8:15 am

His girfriends should ditch him when he reaches the point where he wants sex.

March 26, 2023 11:22 pm

At times a Marxist, class warfare view of the the debate is illuminating. My premises are:

  • Wealth like poverty is relative.
  • For perhaps 150 years the poor and middle class have become wealthier in both absolute and relative terms; especially since the end of the class struggle following the end of the second world war.
  • The global warming “crisis” is the wealthy pushing back and attempting to re-capture the gains made by the proletariat.

If these are true then one would expect that the biggest responses to the global warming “crisis” are those that maximise the relative wealth of the rich and especially the indications that one is truly wealthy:

  • Mass international travel – it’s time to bring back the traditional grand tour limited to those who can truly afford it. Venice swamped by the masses is just not right.
  • Personal transport – let the plebs wait for buses and keep the streets free for those who “need” to get somewhere on time. The rural population can just stay home and work the fields.
  • Luxury foods such as meat, fish and out of season vegetables. What is on the table is a traditional indicator of ones wealth.
  • Access to home comforts – such as a warm house, heated swimming pool, air conditioning. Remember that the wealthy do NOT, ever, shiver, sweat or perspire.
  • Democratic rights for the “uneducated” and “ignorant”. Deniers to be punished, ignored or side-lined. After all, the rich know by birth what is best for all of us and it is a traditional mark of distinction to take on the “white mans burden”; even if one is black and female.

Its simply time to realise that the time of the middle class is coming to an end.

Reply to  oldplanningengineer
March 27, 2023 12:53 am

Neo-feudalism is all the rage

Peta of Newark
March 26, 2023 11:50 pm

If you don’t know who or what Nicola Sturgeon was, this may be a bit lost on you, else is is simply epic and says it all.

Headline:Nicola Sturgeon: Learning to drive will give me personal freedom
BBC video

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 27, 2023 12:54 am

I saw that!

She’s going to have some spare time on her hands

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 27, 2023 2:29 am

Headline:“Nicola Sturgeon: Learning to drive will give me personal freedom”

yet the poison dwarf was happy to restrict personal freedoms of others (to save the planet ) !!

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 27, 2023 11:20 am

I think we’d be justified in calling her a hypocrite if she gets an ICE car rather than an electric one! Well, she spent years trying to wipe out the Scottish oil indutry…

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 27, 2023 2:43 pm

The automobile is the greatest advance so far in personal freedom for everyone who can manage to get access to an automobile.

Ben Vorlich
March 27, 2023 12:46 am

Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
Is a Zil Lane in all but name.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 27, 2023 12:56 am


You can pollute all you like provided you pay a tax….

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  strativarius
March 27, 2023 1:07 am

Perhaps the fightback has begun

EXCLUSIVE Revenge of the drivers: ULEZ cameras are covered over with bags and boxes in guerilla war against hated scheme


Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 27, 2023 3:12 am

The message must be

comment image

Reply to  strativarius
March 27, 2023 5:05 am

Fair enough, but who are these non-idiotic politicians we’re supposed to vote for?

Where for the love of sanity are they?

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  strativarius
March 27, 2023 9:32 am

The French, in their usual inimitable fashion, took far more effective action.


March 27, 2023 1:20 am

California has terribly regressive taxes on energy to fund green energy initiatives that benefit wealthier residents. Sky high electric rates funds rooftop solar that only benefit homeowners. Unfortunately more than half of residents have to rent due to sky high real estate and extra costs imposed on builders. California also has some of the highest liquid fuel taxes in the nation, partially due to carbon pricing and fees, that support electric car subsidies for some of the most well to do residents on the coast.

Ron Long
Reply to  Sean2828
March 27, 2023 2:57 am

One has to wonder why Californians willingly vote themselves into a downward spiral into oblivion. Governor Newsome is a good example: “because of climate change we now will have permanent drought, so we will increase your taxes” followed by “be prepared for flooding that is underway and expect more to come, because, you know, climate change. Oh, by the way, we will increase your taxes”.

Reply to  Ron Long
March 27, 2023 5:05 am

Too many voters like this.

Ron Long
Reply to  Scissor
March 27, 2023 5:59 am

Thanks, Scissor, it would be extra special if that Tesla caught on fire.

Lee Riffee
Reply to  Scissor
March 27, 2023 7:40 am

Having lived in CA for five years, I hate to say it, but there really are lots and lots of terminally stupid people out there. Yes, there are stupid people everywhere, but there is an unusually high density of them in that left coast state….
There’s that old saying – “God shook the world, and all the fruits and nuts (and, I’d add, terminally stupid) rolled to the west coast.”

Reply to  Scissor
April 7, 2023 2:36 pm

And they say men won’t ask for directions. About 40 years ago, I had to ask the gas station attendant where the fill-up spout was on a rental car. Turns out the license plate flipped up to reveal the spout in the rear bumper.

Reply to  Ron Long
March 27, 2023 10:15 am

California politicians of the leftist persuasion promise free stuff, and the electorate votes them in. Our Governor is a Democrat, and the legislature has a Democrat super majority. It may just be that the sunshine has addled their (admittedly small) brains.

Reply to  Sean2828
March 27, 2023 4:40 am

The poor will starve while allowing the rich to save !
History shows nothing changes.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Sean2828
March 27, 2023 4:51 am

it’s getting so bad in CA that some residents are moving to Mexico

Lee Riffee
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 27, 2023 7:43 am

That will be something if comes to the point where immigrants from Mexico and further south start fleeing the state like rats jumping off a sinking ship! Of course, people are fleeing CA in droves, who knows how many are south of the border immigrants?
They came there to find a better life (and better paying work) and then they find their new home is becoming worse than the countries they left behind….That’s sad, really sad!

March 27, 2023 5:48 am

You mean like food, cars, housing, electricity, water, and all the industries that raise prices based on these?

J Boles
March 27, 2023 5:53 am

I am surprised that the poor do not all get together and protest high energy prices, well they do in France.

Reply to  J Boles
March 29, 2023 4:01 pm

When confronted with problems the French have a habit of “aux barricades!”
They have had a lot of practice and are very good at it.

The practice is not as well known in the US as the poor have learned to burn, loot and murder instead.

March 27, 2023 7:42 am

I’ve become convinced that the world described in the penultimate paragraph is what they want.

William Howard
March 27, 2023 7:47 am

exactly why developing nations aren’t buying into this green hoax -they know that the fastest way to improve the lives of their citizens is thru reliable inexpensive energy supplied by fossil fuels – the same way America did – and why the forecasts show use of fossil fuels increasing each year even thru 2050 – not being replaced by unreliable forms of energy

March 27, 2023 11:25 am

Go green, not Green.

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