We’re becoming another California
When people ask me about the future, I usually say that if we continue on our present political arc, it probably comes down to three possible movie scenarios as analogs: “Soylent Green,” “The Road Warrior” or “The Hunger Games.”
In the movie “Soylent Green,” world population and poor government have overcome mankind’s ability to sustain itself at what we would regard as a modern level. Most people no longer have access to electronics or vehicles and are ruled by an oppressive, authoritarian government that doesn’t care for people past a certain age and gives them a happy pill until they pass and then processes them into nutritional wafers. Green ones. Possible, I suppose. If I’ve learned one thing from watching the Food Network, it’s that people will eat about anything.
“The Road Warrior” seems possible with our present energy policy that tries to stop us from using fossil fuels but doesn’t replace them with anything that works. Eventually, the system breaks down, gasoline becomes currency and people run around in cool dune buggies wearing Speedos, chaps and mohawks. Leadership would be a synthesis of professional wrestling, music and mid-Eastern nomenclature. The Great Humongous, aka the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n Rolla. Not impossible, but I don’t see any of us really having enough time to spend in the gym to wear those outfits.
Most likely is some version of the popular “Hunger Games” series, in which an oppressive and authoritarian government (stop me if you’ve heard this before) crushes dissent and reduces most of the population to workers supplying members of a perfumed and decadent ruling class dwelling in cities who are out of touch with the production of the goods they consume.
Or, as we call it in Colorado, the Denver-Boulder corridor. OK, hyperbole, but I do have a point.
This comes up as one studies the political scenarios necessary in opposing a statewide ban on fracking. Much of the strategy involves marshaling most of the producing areas of the state in such a way as to counter and overcome the voting block of voracious consumers between Longmont and Littleton.
As much as Front Range elites and their followers elsewhere like to carp about western and northeastern Colorado’s conservative bent, voting trends indicate urban voters are at least, if not more, reactive with their votes for progressive agendas, as we backward Westerners are with conventional ones.
The great historian Victor Davis Hanson has written about this in terms of California, where coastal elites are able to indulge themselves with electric cars and drilling bans while giving little thought to the cost of energy for the farmhand driving 50 miles in a 20-year-old truck to harvest organic vegetables.
Here in Colorado, we have detached urbanites seeing our part of the state best used as a recreational facility and test kitchen for half-baked energy policies. Much of the discussion about a statewide fracking ban is originating from a part of the state that has never been within 50 feet of a drilling platform and wouldn’t know fracking fluid from a chocolate martini.
The problem in states like ours is not just political, but a disconnect in understanding the link between things like extraction industries and actual progress. Colorado is rapidly becoming another California, where large voting blocs think that jobs should only involve keyboards or handling pieces of paper and are suspicious of people who make their living “stealing” things from mother Earth.
Extracting energy products or iron, copper and coal — the sinews of commerce and growth — is always thought to be evil, while protest and demanding fanciful alternatives, are always seen as progress.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, bless his heart, has been trying to make the point that banning an important tool of one of the nation’s most important energy bases is a bad idea, founded on weak science. This has earned the former geologist slight support among the activist base of his party.
Little wonder, when this week at Colorado Christian University, in a debate about fracking, a former EPA official equated it with slavery: “You know, slavery had a lot of economic benefits, but it had an ethical problem.”
When someone’s willing to make that comparison, a lot of scenarios are possible.
Rick Wagner write about politics in his blog, the War on Wrong.