Wednesday, 16 December 2015 11:59

The Cost of Class Unconsciousness

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The Cost of Class Unconsciousness

John Ingraham

John Ingraham writes from the Champlain Valley.

I quote from a recent Science Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) report:

On December 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to ban hydraulic fracking of shale in New York State. The important Marcellus formation is in the southern and western part of the state, which is experiencing economic stagnation. The governor referred to his experts who cited unspecified health concerns. As The Wall Street Journal stated: "In other words, all of the Governor's men couldn't find conclusive evidence that fracking presents a significant risk to public health or the environment. So they're going to ban fracking until they do." Hydraulic fracturing has been used since 1947 and the EPA has yet to uncover credible evidence that it causes groundwater contamination. The best one of the governor's experts, the acting state health commissioner, could do was that he would not want to live in a community where fracking was taking place. One may not wish to live in a community with a jet airport, but is that reason to issue a statewide ban on jet airports?

New York's Governor Cuomo has presidential aspirations, so obviously he feels it more important not to offend his liberal Manhattan constituency, and Greens nationally, than to promote development in economically desolate upstate New York. Formerly industrial towns like Ticonderoga and Port Henry have little to show but shuttered storefronts, while the pretty little towns clustering along the shores of Lake Champlain, like Westport and Essex, have been summer resorts since the latter years of the 19th century, and now, although most of their stores are gone, they are largely populated by affluent retirees. The decline of the economy does not greatly disturb them. They are the gentry. A thin middle class layer - lawyers, doctors, store owners, town officials, and so on, live in the towns while the working class lives in the countryside on what were recently farms (very few farms are left - they have moved westward).

The area is within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park Authority that has become, since the 1970s, the master of everything within its bounds, dictating details of land usage and building. Hiking is widely promoted, and some prominent Greens hope that the area will become so depopulated that it will become wholly wild, a playground for them. And they are helping the process along.

There are several Green organizations here always ready to sue the APA for not being Green enough. For example, recently the APA allowed a mining company to swap 200 acres of its own land for 200 acres in the Park because without access to that land and its minerals, the company would soon exhaust its own minerals and would have to close. The swap was approved by the voters; after all, the company has been a big employer there for years. A couple of Green groups are suing, hoping to see the plant shut down.

Now we come to the purpose of this little essay: the valley newspaper, the principal advertising medium of the area, is a big moneymaker for its owners. The people who run the paper are not gentry, but as respectable members of the middle class they defer to the gentry. So they have opposed fracking for years, opposed the only chance for development and prosperity for the area. The editor seems blind to what will happen to his advertising revenue as more people move away (New York is steadily losing population) and more stores close.

This is a classic case of the perils of class unconsciousness. *

Read 1898 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 17:59
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