Living in Canada has presented the downside of socialism front and center to us. We witnessed a bit of a more severe form in Peru, and can definitely see the leanings in the States. I've alluded to our frustration at the lack of actual health care access, even though our family income supports a "free" system of healthcare. Symantics - health insurance does not ensure health and more than welfare ensures fewer poor families.
The London Free Press newspaper and the internet are my sole sources of current events. Adjusting from a relatively conservative way of thinking in Texas to a relatively liberal way of thinking in London was rather jarring to my senses. I'm numb to it now. There is a very, very strong sense of entitlement here. The sad fact is that all this entitlement means higher taxes, ensuring that more folks will need the entitlement, meaning higher taxes, and in the end a hugely bloated government employing more "supervisors" and "overseers" than private industry.
One recurring theme in the newspapers concerns the environment. CFL's (compact fluorescent lightbulbs) have irked me from their inception. We are told they will "save energy." Here we are facing legislation that will make it illegal to purchase regular incandescent light bulbs. I can picture the hoards of folks trying to smuggle 60 watt bulbs across the border as I type, and smile at the silliness of it all.
Okay, symantics. Can we actually "save energy?" In short, no, we can't "save energy." If we could how about shipping our saved energy to countries that lack sanitary water systems because of a lack of this precious energy? How about gathering all our "saved energy" and letting it do good where folks could use the benefits just to have a bare existence? The reason is that you can't save energy the way you can save money, which is another topic for another time.
What we can do is consume less energy. We can become more efficient -- but we cannot save energy, anymore than we can save sunshine. We can only consume less. I prefer doing this voluntarily, rather than in the punitive manner espoused both north and south of the US/Canadian border.
Oh, and punitive measures abound here in the north. We have used cloth bags for groceries for a few years now. To "make" people comply our grocery stores started to charge 5 cents per plastic bag. I notice this past weekend that one store was charging 10 cents.
In order to drive a car we need to carry car insurance, plus get a pollution check. I want to breathe clean air, just like the next guy, but when I found out that there were several loopholes in the check system, I became incensed. Busses here belch pollution but are exempt. If a car is older than 7 years, they are exempt. If you can't afford to repair your car, you can be exempt. Vehicles that run dirty also use more diesel or gasoline to get from point A to point B. One more irksome idea floating around our community involves penalizing folks who let their cars idle. Now, that sounds great in concept, none of that nasty pollution boiling into the air while the car isn't going anywhere. But, remember that a lot of people here live in apartment buildings, without weather protectionsfor their cars. A whole lot of folks here do not use their garages for cars, opting instead to keep them stuffed with stuff. In the wintertime ice can get pretty thick on the windows, so many folks will let their cars idle at least long enough for the defrost to help clear the windows so they can drive safely. Not allowed now. Trains criss cross the city, often blocking intersections for up to 15 minutes at a time. Nope, idling not allowed. In fact one of the city council folks proposed a 1 minute limitation on idling. How about stop lights??? So they are now considering lengthening it to 3 minutes. I just know that the constructions crews that use diesel equipment will receive exemptions, and they should. You can't just turn diesel powered equipment off and on without destroying the engine.
Plus, get this, it takes up to 10 times as much "energy" to restart an engine than what would be consumed while idling during an equivalent time period. If there is a car belching pollution, then jerk it off the road. Give the person a bus pass if necessary. Okay, I've calmed down.
So, it really isn't as much about reducing pollutants spilling into the air as raising revenues, and being punitive in the process. I understand that human nature is fallen. I have witnessed folks doing and partaking in activities that are not in the interest of their fellow humans. A simple example is tossing used food cartons from a moving car.
Litter was the huge push when I was in grade school. There were campaigns calling our attention to how unsightly litter was along our streets and highways. And I agree completely. Between high school and college I worked on the State highway road crew for the summer. One of the less desirable, but necessary jobs, was to go out and empty trash cans on the highway. That was over 30 years ago. Yet, still today there is vast evidence that people still litter. Personally, I can not understand the mentality that says it's okay to have the items in your car while you are eating food, but entirely okay to jettison it when you are finished.
For a far more intelligent commentary on the current jargon about "saving the Earth" please read Father James Schall's essay for today, Wednesday, July 22 at The Catholic Thing.