Government get’s a bad rap in the US these days, always under fire from some demagogue or another trying to make a point. And those ranters are helped by evil genius front groups like Americans for Prosperity who seem to think we should have no roads or sewage systems or schools or emergency agenices because it’s too burdensome to the taxpayer.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who think that wherever there’s a problem, government ought to solve it. So beyond the basics of a healthy society, we ought to also give big corporations or industries (like Big Oil) huge tax breaks or hand Wall Street a big pile of cash to gamble away for kicks and give its CEOs fat end-of-year bonuses, on us.
The common good at an uncommonly good price
I tend to fall somewhere in the middle, arguing that yes, government is meant for the common good, but even the common good has its limits. Further, that we should watch how much and how we spend taxpayer money, seeking the most intelligent, affordable and efficient solutions wherever possible.
The upshot here for energy and the environment is that when government invests in things like insulation for its buildings, or hybrid or electric vehicles for its car fleets, it uses less energy, makes a smaller impact on resources and the environment and in turn saves the taxpayer a bundle.
Charlottesville, Va., a city near me has done a lot to create and move toward goals that would make it a solidly Green City by 2025. It boasts a host of programs that are either for the City itself, or available to residents (including low-income residents) through tax breaks and incentives for energy reductions, gardening, food miles, farmer’s markets and other issues.
Many other townships and cities across the US are making similar commitments, which can’t be easy when we’ve got a national media that plays up the most polarized positions, as listed above, thereby making solutions that much more difficult for city councils to come to.
In spite of this it’s worth it to look into your own local government solutions to see what they’re doing to get greener. What’s great for energy hounds like me and eco-friendly types, too, is that most green solutions, though they may have initial costs, often pave the way to saving money. And whenever you talk money-savings to paper pushing bureaucratic types and politicians, they usually listen.
You might also find that there’s plenty of programs in place already—or on the docket for review on which you can comment—with ways to save you money through insulating or implementing other energy-saving or environmentally corrective measures.
Remember that in America, WE are the government. It’s not some object out there that we have no control of or access to. But the only way to make an impact or enjoy the benefits of government is to accept its existence as a reflection of the people, and get involved. You might even suggest that your city get bikes for its police force.
–Lindsay Curren, LadyVirginiaVintage