THE DOCTOR IS IN - An interesting memory during my Planning/Transportation Days at the MVCC (Mar Vista Community Council) haunts me still:
the eye-rolling of Latino renters (many of them blue-collar renters and contractors) when the issue of Green Energy and Mass Transit was mentioned.
I've seen the same with respect to middle-class Angelenos of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as more Americans expect their finances to worsen with gas price-associated inflation, it's anticipated that $100+ per gas tank refill will not go as well as many would otherwise wish.
To those who are pleased that the cost of fuel will drive Americans into mass transit, meet those who are very unpleased because they CANNOT use mass transit to get them were they really need to go.
And as President digs his heels against the fossil fuel-associated energy independence once achieved by this nation before his Administration took hold in the White House, it's wondered if the cost of fuel and inflation in general will affect this November's elections as much as COVID-19 affected November 2020's elections.
It's not just the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline at the start of his Presidency (a rather cruel slap in the face to approximately 80,000 workers), but the aggressive antagonism against fossil fuels in general that has ended the energy independence that many Americans took pride in but two years ago, while many others wondered chafed at what cost we endured for that independence.
Meanwhile, our once-close Arab allies are NOT producing more oil to compensate for the reduction in U.S. drilling, fracking, and mining, and won't even speak with President Biden.
Things aren't going well with our efforts to get more oil from Iran, Venezuela, and (of course) Russia, either.
And speaking of Russia, it's up for some considerable debate as to whether President Biden and his supporters will get away with convincing Americans that inflation is Vladimir Putin 's fault.
Meanwhile, Governor Newsom and the Sacramento Legislature are debating tax cuts and rebates for Californians hard hit by fuel costs.
As the costs of California's gas tax is over 50 cents a gallon (in contrast to 18 cents a gallon in other states throughout the U.S.), and as over $8 billion is anticipated to be collected through said tax, it's to be wondered if (gasp!) a lowering of the gas tax on a long-term basis is needed more than ever...especially because many taxpayers wonder what that money is being spent on.
But within the U.N. and within our own nation (think President Biden and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg's statements and actions), the need to "go green" remains as strong as ever.
Because, as with the Keystone Pipeline and domestic fossil fuel opposition from Sacramento, Washington, and U.N. headquarters in New York, it's been declared that you and I should be changing to electric cars as the costs of fuel go up.
But a few questions:
1) How many among the middle class can afford electric cars?
2) Are not electric cars powered by coal from another region or state?
3) Are fully-electric cars more cost-effective than hybrid cars?
4) Are not the batteries and parts of electric cars a nightmare with respect to biodegradability and recyclability?
5) Will the Chinese and other populations of the world cooperate with green energy to help the environment, or will it just be lip service while the U.S. does its very best towards addressing climate change?
6) Similarly, why are solar-powered roof installations so expensive that the middle-class cannot afford them? Why are they $25,000, and not $5,000, to install per household?
7) Why are the wealthy eschewing mass transit to use their cars (not all of which are electric) and flying expensive and climate-unfriendly private planes everywhere?
Hence, we have the rich able to access "green energy" and yet consuming fossil fuel-based energy while the middle class is being (in the real world) squeezed further into poverty post-COVID-19.
This isn't a left vs. right thing, it's a "how is Joe/Jane Middle Class American doing" thing.
And while those hurting from gas prices continue to do so at an ever-rapid pace, and are least able to afford that pace, we'll see America "go green", alright.
As in "green with envy" at the very rich who are surviving quite well, thank you very much, and as in "a green light to go the polls and change a few things" come this November.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)