The New Class War

My instinct is against the concept of class war, as I do not see the interests of different ‘classes’ are necessarily in opposition. However, a couple of news stories have captured my attention, alongside my own consideration of my last post; that the people who will suffer from green energy policies are those who are those who struggle with day-to-day costs of living. We do have a class war, and it is very ugly. But our ‘class warriors’ do not, I suspect, realise what they are really doing.

The individual news stories that captured my attention are not really that important, except that they are illustrative of a pattern. In one story, there was vocal opposition against a salmon farm extension, which would provide 400 jobs. The opposition talked of damage to the ‘pristine’ environment. It was impossible not to notice that the backdrop to the story featured boats moored in pleasant scenery; do not mess with our pristine environment for boating and leisure pursuits. The second story I barely paid attention to. It was the same collection of nice ‘middle class’ people protesting against some kind of economic development. Not in my back yard (NIMBY) was the argument, and the ‘enironment’ was again wheeled out to back their point.

When looking at the so called ‘green’ energy of windfarms, there is little doubt that this comes at a price. In my last post the cost for consumers, and the cost for the economy for any country that pursues the green dreams are considered. The dream is one that leads to higher energy costs, and ultimately to lost jobs. Who pays the price first? Is is the teachers, the university employees, the civil servants? No. It is ordinary working people. With regards to the middle classes in the private sector, the middle managers, the senior managers, it seems that they will be the people most able to afford the higher bills, but do not realise that they defeat their own economic position when their votes, and their views, load expenses onto already stretched businesses.

As such, there is a divide. There are those at the bottom who care only for a job, and to be able to afford to live well enough. Then there are the middle managers who cannot see that they risk their own future when they go ‘green’ in their views and attitudes. They do not link their views to long term decline. Then there are those in the government sector who are insulated from the consequences of their actions. Finally, we return to the  NIMBY. Whilst their individual protest against any economic development, dressed up with greenery, appears to be genuinely serving their self interest, the collective NIMBY action only serves to retard the economic development on which their own futures, in many cases, rests.

So what kind of class war do we have. On the one side, we have those who will be most hurt; the less well off. They are not organised, are not vocal, and just suffer the price of ‘greenery’ in silence. They are the people who stand to lose most from the anti-development movement. But, heh, who cares as they have no voice. Then there are the NIMBY people, who just don’t get that the more of them there are, the more they undermine their own futures. They are the middle class agitators who think they are protecting their own interest/s. Finally, there are those who are in the government sector, who imagine that they are in a world where they are safe. They are vocal for their ‘green’ causes, confident that there will be no price for themselves.

However, this last group are perhaps the most deluded. For all their confidence, Greece and Spain tell a story. They are not as safe as they imagine, and are not insulated from the cost/s of their pet causes. They rely, in the end, on an economy being able to support the cost of government. If the economy starts to fail, eventually even those who live in the security of the government will pay a price. There must be a strong economy to support the current size of the state.

So is there really a class war? The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. There is a class war in the sense that the middle classes are promoting/supporting policy that hits the ordinary working people. They can afford to pay the higher bills, and some are insulated from the medium term effects of ‘greenery’. The people who are hurting now are those who are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Whilst the middle classes load the cost of their greenery on this class, they do not realise that they will also pay the price; just further down the line. Whether a relatively wealthy middle manager, of a civil servant, they may not see the cost now, but what of the future? It is a class war in which interests collide only in the sense that one group are unable to project forwards, and realise the costs that they impose on poorer people will one day reflect on their own futures.

The cost of ‘greening’ is one that is not immediate, and not direct and the degree of impact is phased. The first to pay the price are the poor, the second the middle classes, and lastly the civil servants and people sheltered by being in the pay of the government. The latter two groups can afford to be ‘green’ right up to the point where their company goes bust, or the government needs to cut back due to a declining economy. They cannot connect the dots of their actions into the final consequences of their actions.

The real tragedy is that, at this moment in time, nobody cares. The green movement, green attitudes, are the thing of the moment. The middle endorses the greening of New Zealand. The bottom pays the price. But the middle cannot see that they too will pay the price. Yes, there is a class war, but it is a war of lack of care, rather than a war founded in hate. The trouble is that, whilst not caring for those at the bottom, those in the middle cannot see that the interests of the bottom and middle are the same. The bottom and middle both need a sound economy to survive. The ‘greening’ of the New Zealand economy has a price, and that price will eventually be shared by all.

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One response to “The New Class War

  1. Nice commentary. Those with financial constraints (e.g. elderly superannuates, disabled, unemployed, etc) pay the price just like everyone else but have no wriggle room to pay for protest activities and are too focussed on getting by to keep up with the root case of their cost increases anyway.

    Then you have the sheer economic distortion of unnecessary carbon taxes loaded on to first ranking electricity generators (e.g. CCGT) so that LRMC of wind say, then – and ONLY then – becomes “competitive” after wind gets dispatch priority by offering supply at $0 MWh to the market under the rules of the market.

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