Obsessive Green Policies Destroying Affordable Housing

Welcome to the lovely future they've planned for you.
Published on October 23, 2023

A few years ago when I was building my house, I attended a “green” building conference in San Francisco. Gavin Newsom and Bobby Kennedy, Jr. were giving keynote addresses, and across the conference floor were strewn hundreds of booths of builders, engineers, architects, visionaries, and commercial interests selling every manner of material, equipment, skill sets, and propaganda. Buildings, I was told, emit 59 percent of carbon emissions, and green builders would shut that down. And it would be profitable.

At the time I was neutral but dubious. I had completed a “green” subdivision and had promised puzzlingly powerful members of “the community” that I would build a “green” house. It wasn’t a requirement but it was an acceptable challenge and I knew I would be fascinated by the exercise.

I followed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum template, contracted the job myself. I wanted to build a healthy house, which meant as little chemical off-gassing as possible. Despite my savings, which were considerable, it still cost 40 percent more than a traditional stick-frame. The geothermal system cost $35,000 more than traditional heating and no, I have not “made back that money.” Today that cost would be north of $150,000.

The only reason I am not bankrupt is that where I live is so restricted as to land use, housing prices have skyrocketed. Only the rich can afford to live here. My property with its “improvements,” which is to say my money and labor, is now worth 30 times my initial investment. This is known as old-fashioned economics, wherein you restrict supply and prices, via demand, go up.

This too is a perfect micro-illustration of the “Green Economy” or the the “Green New Deal.” It is “green” only for the wealthy or privileged by virtue of education. It is very, very “green” for those who profit from it. The people who took my extra money, other than the giant suction hose of government, were mostly those demanded by “green” theology: engineers (5), lawyers (3), surveyors (2), wildlife consultants (2), and permitting bureaucrats. Those requirements have  doubled in the intervening years.

Today, life is very green for the hosts of eager young professionals at that conference who have in the intervening years insinuated themselves into every  government structure, inserting siphons whereby they literally suck money out of the system in torrents of green. When I think of that conference, full of bright-eyed (expensively educated) enthusiasts, who were hell-bent on selling their ideas to the wider culture, I think: who the hell brought you up? Because this is a moral question, a profoundly ethical question. And everything you do is profoundly immoral.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal that would overturn the econometrics of carbon pricing, i.e. that the Biden administration is placing too high an estimate on the future social cost of carbon emissions. Who can know the social cost of carbon emissions? But it means shuttering 450,000 shale jobs because think of the future.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up a fight by Republican-led states over the federal government’s method of estimating the costs of climate change, in a win for President Joe Biden’s push to address rising emissions. In a short, unexplained order, the justices rejected a challenge led by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) to the Biden administration’s use of interim formulas that calculate the societal costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

In a statement, Bailey vowed to “continue to combat government overreach at every turn.” Missouri, he said, “was the first state to challenge the Biden administration’s flawed social cost of greenhouse gases model that seeks to cripple American businesses in the name of a radical climate agenda.”

Here’s the macro-illustration. When the Liberal Party in Canada took power, our federal budget was in surplus at $1.9 billion and our debt was $612 Billion. Eight years later our budget deficit is $42 billion (down from $90 billion the year before). Our debt has doubled to $1.2 trillion federally and double that again when you add in provincial debt.  The only promise Justin Trudeau has kept is the road to net-zero, which has cost more than $100 billion. Federally. Double that for the provinces. Drawing down carbon emissions has moved us from surplus into massive debt.

All that money went to one class, which is to say that group of educated professionals who now act as the climate police in every sector of the economy, including $207 million to teachers at every level of the school system. Think of them as Soviet apparatchiks, hunting apostates and maneuvering for preference. They are the ten percent required to keep the 90 percent in line, in service of the 1 percent.

Carbon taxes were meant to be revenue-neutral in that money was to be returned to the less fortunate. This, of course, turned out to be fiction. Carbon taxes are levied all along the supply chain, and this, added to fiscal insanity, has skyrocketed prices for basic necessities. We are told food prices rose 7 percent. It’s more like 75 percent in the real world.

The following, courtesy of economist Peter St. Onge, is what happened to the rest of us:

The common thread is “how the hell are Canadians surviving between inflation and taxes, barely enough to live on.” What’s left is soaked up in soaring rents. And don’t even think of buying a house – the Canadian housing bubble is truly epic, since 2008, home prices and household debt have almost quadrupled. In Vancouver they are up almost five times. Twice what’s happened in the U.S. Canadian house prices compared to income are now over twice what they are in the U.S. and Canadians household debt is the highest in the G7, over 100 percent of income, 30 percent higher than the U.S.

If a Canadian bought a house now, the mortgage would cost 48 percent of pre-tax income. In Vancouver and Toronto, it’s closer to 70 percent. Nation-wide, including rural areas, the average house price is $500K US. Keep in mind Canada is much poorer than America, if Canada were a state, it would be poorer than West Virginia or Mississippi. So imagine a half-million dollar house in West Virginia with New York City taxes. Rents across Canada have soared by 20 percent in the last two years. In B.C. and Ontario 30 percent. Forty percent of the Canadian middle class cannot make every day expenses. One in ten are borrowing from friends and family.”

The cruelty of “green” is unfathomable.

 

Elizabeth Nickson is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Originally appeared here.

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