Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Left wing wowsers

It’s not unusual for me to criticise the right wing and right wing wowsers in particular. I guess that’s a bit like saying the sun rises in the East. Even so, little in politics irritates me more than those so sure of their own righteousness that they focus on going after the rest us for what they adamantly believe is sin.

The right wing has raised that to an art form, but the left wing does it, too. The motley leftist grouping known as the NZ Green Party is an example, and nowhere is that more evident than on environmental issues.

The Greens are obsessed with their cause and demand that we all do as they say, whatever the cost. So when the Government announced that it was delaying a petrol tax related to the Kyoto Protocols for three years due to the record high cost of petroleum, they were beside themselves with anger. So much so that they’re talking about withdrawing their support for another Kyoto Protocol-related initiative, formation of an emissions trading system—despite the fact that it would further their overall goals. Talk about throwing your toys out of the cot!

The Greens’ overall emphasis on environmental issues would ordinarily win them sympathy and some support among the general population, me included. However, their often elitist attitude to such issues cancels out that goodwill. For example, they oppose any new road construction, despite the demonstrable harm that the current gridlocks do to the economy because, they say, the money “ought” to be spent on pubic transport instead. The buses they crave would be, of course, caught up in the same gridlock that they don’t want to fix, but that detail eludes them.

By demanding that ordinary New Zealanders pay an additional 8 cents per litre for petrol on top of already record-high prices and soaring food prices shows how out of touch they are with the needs of ordinary New Zealanders. The Labour-led Government has a taken a practical step to ease financial burdens on ordinary New Zealanders while we wait for world economic conditions to improve.

Real politicians realise that sometimes compromise is a necessary evil, but more often than not, the Greens come across as tut-tutting killjoys determined that people should not have the conveniences of modern life. They need to balance their principles with the needs of ordinary New Zealanders. They should lead voters to their principles and stop trying to force ordinary New Zealanders to submit. The Government has taken a sensible action, regardless of what the Greens think.


Nik said...

"Motley," ha, good choice of words. I admit I haven't been very impressed with what I've seen of the Greens despite leaning their way politically.

Arthur Schenck said...

Yeah, me too. I want to like them, but they make it really hard to do. They certainly haven't learned how to make their principles appealing to the mass electorate.

d said...

I get your point, but what if world economic conditions don't improve?

I think most people in developing countries know that they should stop driving those huge cars/trucks that use a lot of gas (or just cars in general), and perhaps use more public transportation, if available, or carpool.

Until now, though, the cost of gas hasn't been prohibitive enough to effect change. Many families/individuals can make small adjustments to their budgets in order to continue driving the way they have.

I think it will have to come down to serious money before people are willing to make real changes in their lives that will affect the environment. Because, let's face it, eventually we are going to run out of the earth's natural resources. Then what?

If we keep making allowances for rising prices, eventually it will all catch up.

d said...

AND (had more thoughts)...

I agree that we should focus more on public transportation rather than new roads. Why? Because you can fit a lot of people on a bus or a train, therefore freeing up the roads from all the people who used to drive everywhere.

Adding more road would only encourage more driving, which while possibly more convenient, not good for petrol consumption.

I realise making changes to live in a more environmentally friendly way isn't always convenient. But you have to remember that we humans didn't start out this way, and many people in the world live without many of the conveniences we have now.

Conveniences have started to equal waste and over-consumption of the earth's resources. We can't grow more oil, so we either need to slow down on the consumption or find alternate fuel sources. Either way, we are looking at inconveniences or more expense. We have only brought this upon ourselves, and only we can change it.

I barely notice the increase in gas because we don't have a car. We walk wherever we can on nice days, and take the bus when it's cold or rainy. Bus prices haven't changed (yet).

As for the emissions trading, I haven't completely made up my mind on that. From an accounting and tax side, it's quite a complicated matter. The bottom line is, though, that companies don't actually have to change how they do things - they can just buy credits from other companies who do. Question is, how many companies plan to be in a position to sell credits versus in a position to buy them?

Arthur Schenck said...

I agree with much of what you say, but I don't think the Kyoto tax would advance any goals. The money was to go offshore to some nebulous international agency which, if it's anything like the UN, would spend most of it on administration.

I think that the fast-rising price of petrol will force people to drive less, without government intervention. Already in teh US sales of small cars are skyrocketing.

I also don;t think that it's either public transport OR roads, but should be both. In Auckland, for example, public transport has to be by bus and they have to use the roads. So, completing the motorway network will make it easier for buses to get around, too. I don't believe in punishing people out of their cars, but encouraging them out instead, and that will require safe, reliable and affordable transport that goes where you want to go when youj eant to go.

I'm a good example. I have to drivebecause there are no direct buses to where I work (it would take two buses, 45 mins to an hour on them, plus a half hour walking, mostly uphill). I can't carpool because of my start and stop times, and there are few buses running at the end of my day. Punishing me by forcingme to pay higher taxes won;t make me sotp driving, but it could mean I'd have to quit or make other cutbacks that would have other social consequences.

What I'd like to see is government offering people incentives to change, rather than punishing them. Ditching the Kyoto tax won't stop petrol rises, but it will help ordinary people adjust a bit while we figure out how we can change the bigger picture.