Good Riddance to Feel-Good "Green" Measures That Waste Money and Electricity

What Women Really Think
March 2 2011 12:26 PM

Good Riddance to Feel-Good "Green" Measures That Waste Money and Electricity

Actually, Amanda , I can think of something more embarrassing than grown men (and women) "refusing to do something just because it was Mommy who told them to." How about the utter hypocrisy of a pointless, feel-good "green initiative" whose main proponent flies around the country in private jets ? How about the self-congratulatory smugness of people who think they are better than everyone, and that they are actually doing something good for the earth, just because their paper plate is compostable?

You are absolutely correct that $475,000 a year is chump change for the government. Recently in Slate , Annie Lowrey had an interesting piece comparing the federal budget to a household budget (with the obvious caveats about the complexity of the government). And the House composting budget probably wouldn’t register as a single penny on it.  Cutting that money undoubtedly does less to save the government money than cutting out my weekly Americano at Starbucks would do to help my own finances.

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But let’s look at the bigger picture. Many, if not most, Americans are into their third or fourth year of belt-tightening. If we’re going to "go green," like Madame Pelosi would like us to, the measures most likely to be successful are ones that are practical and SAVE money. Turn out the lights. Share a ride. Teach your kids to recycle. If there is a cost, we should see a quick and clear return on our investment. But instead we have Congress spending $475,000 for the meager benefit to Mother Earth of taking ONE car off the road for a year . (Something tells me that our new House speaker’s pledge to fly commercial does more for the environment than 10 years worth of an expensive composting program.)

Spending so much for so little return is something you can only do when you’re spending other people’s money. And it’s the kind of thinking that gets us $1.2 trillion deficits.

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.