Jim Hopkins on current issues

Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: Cash the only green 'tree pluggers' care for

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Photo / Alan Gibson
Photo / Alan Gibson

If you go down to your woods today
You're in for a great surprise
If you go down to your woods today
There'll be dollar signs in your eyes
'Cos every tree that's growing there is
A fiscal boost for your carbon biz
Today's the day the ETS makes you wealthy.

Well, technically, it was yesterday the ETS made the tree pluggers wealthy. But every day we're stuck with the damn thing the foliaged few will be creaming it so, in that sense, the malady malingers on.

And will for yonks. Politicians have never turned down free money. It's not in their nature. They're BP and we're their Gulf (and maybe the pelicans, too). Our pockets are their oil wells and they ain't gonna stop drilling any time soon, pardner!

Sure as shootin', they won't be puttin' a cap on this pertikular gusher until we all rise up and say, "Tarnation, dad burn it and shucks! I ain't gonna vote for you ever again unlessen you take this blasted ETS to the Not OK Corral and fill it full of lead!!!"

Because a vote will trump a tax every time. Remember that. Make a politician feel as unpopular as a brussel sprout (the least-loved vegetable in the country, apparently, other than a list MP) and you've got 'em.

The power is in our hands - and so is the bill, which has just gone up, incidentally. Needless to say, the pollies have deftly distanced themselves from that particular cash catastrophe. All week, we've seen ministers warning the horrid, greedy power companies not to rip off honest, decent, hard-voting folk. "Mea non culpa" is their message. "Don't blame me. It's not my fault!"

They're feeling the heat, you see. Which is more than you can say for us. Down here in the South, in the middle of the night, when the chill's at its worst and the haw frost roams at will, good, God-fearing folk roused from their slumbers by nothing more than a dicky prostate, are dropping dead with hypothermia before they've even reached the bathroom!

You can hear the thuds in the early hours, like distant, doomed artillery. Sometimes, they're so close they overwhelm the dreary drone of the vuvuzelas. "Gosh, there's another one, Ethel. It sounded like the chiropodist. He's always been heavily built."

How many iced chiropodists must die before we end this madness? How many journeys to the library and the museum and anger management counselling must the kiddies miss before we say: "Enough!"

Up to you, folks. As indicated earlier, the power is in your hands. A vote will trump a tax any day. But don't break out the diesel and throw a party yet.

Hard as it may be for the downtrodden and frostbitten to accept, the ETS won't disappear any time soon. Yes, there is disgruntlement. Yes, talkback's got another bitch to scratch. But the critical mass hasn't reached critical mass. Retraction hasn't got enough traction. Indeed, many solemn souls (all with heat pumps) would oppose it on religious grounds.

Such fraught and fearful folk, worried needlessly for decades by alarmist reporting about everything from eggs to ecosystems, passionately believe it's terribly important to do something before tidal waves of belching smoke sweep us all into the raging torrents of nature's retribution.

In our post-Christian age, climate change is the religion of politics. And Parliament is a church with compulsory collections.

Many people like that. If, for instance, you're a doctor's wife in Remuera and you drive the kids to the Montessori School in the SUV, you think it's terribly important to save the planet. You like the ETS. It makes you feel virtuous. Moreover, every parent in the country knows schools are filling kids' heads with eco-babble and bumpf.

Compulsory education's always been two parts instruction and one part indoctrination. We've just stopped saluting the Empire and started worshipping the planet, that's all.

Different purpose, same technique. We're still filling youthful heads with establishment opinion. Which favours an ETS. That's why we've got one.

And it could be worse. If we'd been lumbered with the Labour one, petrol would be $7 million a litre and anyone using electricity would have to live in a cold shower for the rest of their shivering lives.

There you go. Every cloud, etc etc. Which brings us back to the lucky tree pluggers.

Yes, they're creaming it! Yes, we're paying megabucks to support them. But we mustn't shrink into cold and gloomy silence. We mustn't be soured by purse-lipped pinus envy.

Rather, we must warm ourselves by the fire of charity and quaff the mulled wine of happiness. We must say, "Good on you, my fine forest fellows! Ripper! Nice to see someone's making a quid out this schemozzle.

And since you are, how about flicking us a few bob for the power and the petrol? That way, we'll save the people and the planet!"

- NZ Herald

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