Friday, 28 February 2014

"De-growth" or how Greens think drinking less take-out coffee is an economic policy


The Greens and their associated useful idiots are a pretty strange bunch. But nothing is stranger than when these good, kind and utterly barmy people start talking about work:

“Why do we work? What do we do with the money we earn?” asks Anna Coote, head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation. “Can we begin to think differently about how much we need—to get out of the fast lane and live life at a more sustainable pace, to do things that are better for the planet, better for ourselves?”

Now I'm not sure how many hours Ms Coote puts in or precisely how much she gets paid to spout this sort of stuff. But I'll guess that her take home pay is a damn sight more that the average pay for the average British worker.

And here lies the problem. I once had a conversation with a hairdresser about his business. He wasn't moaning just making the matter-of-fact observation that, with the shop open long hours, the time spent managing stock and staff plus the time at home in the evening book-keeping, paying bills and planning, his hourly income was below the minimum wage.

If Ms Coote and her sort - comfortably off, employed people - had their way, the cost of basic things like having your hair cut or the windows cleaned would soar. Even worst people would have us believe that somehow we can get out of the fast lane - presumably while they carry on with big salaries and pleasant jobs, the rest of us can lump it on less money.

Such people - when they aren't weeping crocodile tears about 'the poor' - believe that every job is like theirs. The sort who subscribe to Sierra Magazine where they suggest:

" move to a smaller house or an apartment, downsize to one or no car, or simply have fewer lattes to-go, a smaller paycheck could reduce consumption overall...” 

Isn't that lovely! We're going to save the planet by having fewer take-out coffees! These people really do live in a bizarre otherland. OK it's not quite living in teepees and growing organic vegetables. In fact it's probably worse because it implies some sort of moral urbanism exists in the green mind - presumably because the core constituency for modern greenery is decidedly urban and hipsterish. It's more about planting herbs in gutters than a return to the land.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against down time - all work and no play does make for a dull life. But the idea that there is some sort of Malthusian imperative requiring "de-growth" is ridiculous. If people only want to work 20 hours a week that's fine by me and I hope they enjoy the free time but don't try to pretend that your different lifestyle is somehow not consumption, somehow superior to those folk who like a take-out latte and a shiny new car.

What Ms Coote and her friends fail to appreciate is that by stopping all their consumption they end all those businesses, all those jobs that serve such sinful indulgence. All the baristas, the car salesmen, the brewers and cake makers - gone. And with less money circulating that means lower tax revenues - less money to sweep the streets, teach children and care for Ms Coote's elderly relatives.

If these ideas come to pass we'll be less healthy, less happy and live shorter lives. But we'll have saved the planet!

As I said these people are utterly barmy.


No comments: