The media has our backs.
First they let us know that we should stop complaining about high gas prices because it’s the price of freedom for Ukrainians, even though that has absolutely nothing to do with the price of gasoline. The real problem, of course, is our oil addiction.
Then they explained that we can stop inflation by not believing in inflation because inflation is a result of expecting prices to go up. So let’s all stop right now and EXPECT prices to go down, okay?
Now they are helping us understand that climate change and the urgent need to give up life as we know it, a life based on fossil fuels, is the fault of the ultrarich. Their lifestyles of traveling around the world on jets, living in large houses that use a lot of electricity, and cruising in yachts produce tons more greenhouse gases than those of people with low and middle incomes.
Here is just one result of page after page of Google hits that come up if you search ‘rich carbon footprint’. https://www.treehugger.com/study-outsized-carbon-footprints-supperrich-5222283 And here is an article from 1997 about rich countries versus developing countries that is actually not intended for the general public. It is much more realistic and admits that reducing greenhouse gases will be very difficult because who wants to stop growth?
My point was that when you see story after story with similar titles, and often from different years, sometimes year after year after year, you are being fed a narrative. A narrative is a story that is meant to shape your perception of reality in order that you will not come up with your own thoughts on the subjects, or to give you thoughts about a subject you previously had no reason to think about.
For example, besides the climate change will kill us all narrative, we have been the gender debates, racism, CRT, religion, party politics, immigration, and classism. These stereotypes and labels are used to create division and controversy and fear, and to keep us from thinking clearly about important issues.
And sometimes we are fed a non-story about celebrities, like Chris Rock getting slapped by Will Smith, and social media is all over it. These stories distract the public from the terrible job that the Biden administration is doing and what Joe said about Putin when he was in Poland.
Drama keeps us entertained and less focused on inflation and is used by every administration. Here’s a super interesting article from 1886 called The Newspaper Habit and Its Effects by Augustus A. Levey about how people reading newspapers was making them dumber.
So why would politicians want to keep putting out stories of the evil rich and their carbon footprint? Do we really think the rich are going to stop flying their jets and cruising in their yachts?
I think there are some hidden messages in this narrative that claims the rich are to blame for climate change. Some possibilities include:
- Being rich, traveling and having nice things is bad.
- Owning private property is not a good goal.
- There is not enough to go around unless everyone scrimps: the myth of scarcity.
- You are a good person for suffering the effects that will come from implementing their “climate agenda”.
- And the very subtle implication that free market capitalism itself is bad.
I think they are trying to convince us that being rich is a bad thing so we won’t want to be rich. They want us to be proud of our small footprint! They want us to brag about our secondhand clothes and tiny houses and eating beans and be willing to put the needs of the group ahead of our own desires.
It’s a narrative designed to replace the “American Dream” narrative. The American Dream of upward mobility and increasingly larger houses and nicer cars and traveling around the world is now to be shunned as a climate-destroying nightmare.
“Look at these evil rich people! Don’t be like them!” Instead, “You will own nothing and be happy!”
Yes, consumerism as a lifestyle is not a good thing. But wanting to improve your standard of living is natural. Especially if you are starting off from the bottom. And these messages are directed at the people who don’t have a lot.
Now personally, as a middle-aged woman, I have almost everything I want as far as material goods. I could use some clothes for church and new pair of running shoes. My van has 280,000 miles on it, so a newer vehicle would be nice. And I do enjoy traveling once or twice a year to Utah. But in general I am not a shopper and I am fine with used stuff. I am more concerned about my children’s future.
I really do not care if some people are ultrarich as long as they didn’t get that way by cheating and taxing and controlling access to the free market. Unfortunately, thanks to collusion between the rich, banks and politicians, this is how most of them got ultrarich. Most of the work of politics since the industrial revolution has been about limiting and controlling access to free markets. The battle to make things ‘equal’ has only increased the growth of monopolies.
The people who choose the narrative do not think that we are smart or thoughtful. They do not think we can make our own decisions. They do not give us true information. Instead, they give us drama and spin and twisted statistics. Public schools do not teach practical business skills or entrepreneurship or how politics really works because that would level the playing field.
As a Christian, I understand that being content, seeking first the kingdom of God, working to provide for one’s family, sharing with others, being a good steward of the earth, putting others before myself are all important Biblical values. Acquiring wealth simply to keep it all for myself would be wrong and being a workaholic is idolatry. Most of us don’t need private jets or yachts to be happy or for any other reason.
What I object to is the manipulation of the public with an “anti-rich” narrative. Knowing that this narrative is coming from the people who do have jets and yachts, and knowing that they want us to own nothing and be happy, just rubs me the wrong way. “Rules for thee and not for me” is the order of the day.
As far as saving the planet, I’m all for making changes to agriculture and coming up with new forms of energy and protecting the forests and water. This is possible without hypocritically demonizing the rich and without doing away with upward mobility. We have amazing technology and science and resources. The only thing holding us back is human nature; the desire to have it all with the least amount of effort and for someone else to pay for it.
As I said in this podcast, unbridled greed and tyranny disguised as equality are both bad, but we should not throw out the freedom to improve our lives in the name of saving the climate. Dishonesty and propaganda has no place in a free society or so-called democracy. This type of government ‘leadership’ has produced a short-sighted, unthinking, and dependent public. Giving people real information and letting people have the freedom to make choices and experience real consequences will improve both equality and the planet.
What do you think about the ultrarich, climate change, and narratives? Does does anyone believe this particular narrative? Let me know in the comments below!