There’s a lot of wailing out there about how much of our resources we use here in the USA. While I agree that’s true, and most people here are a waste of time, it’s stupid for us to equate this with the classic “the rich are the devil” argument made by those irresponsible masses who have nothing and so hate those whose ancestors or selves got responsible enough to have something.
It’s too glib and easy to unite the have-nots and neurotic sort-of-haves (the urban middle class, who have enough to live opulently but not enough to live well in the areas that really count: education, land ownership, medical care and retirement). They love to blame the rich, ignoring the fact that most people with money got that way by being good at something. Otherwise, we’d all be rich, right?
Sure, some are accidental, and some are inheritors from lines blighted by admixture with strippers and showgirls (certain heiresses known for sex tapes come to mind). But most people who are what the common man calls “rich,” or the 1/5 of our population whose households make over $140,000 per year — which is the bare minimum at which you can afford good medical care, private schools, etc — got that way by having brains and working hard.
So in order to create this fiction where the rich are our misfortune, we create the sainted poor who have no environmental consequence. Wrong. They tend to be the ones using slash and burn agriculture; they’re the ones breeding out of control (the rich breed below replacement rates); they’re the ones stimulating population growth through emigration; they’re the ones with low IQs.
And, they’re the ones adopting some of our most destructive technologies:
Six in 10 people around the world now have cell phone subscriptions, signaling that mobile phones are the communications technology of choice, particularly in poor countries, according to a U.N. report published Monday.
By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1 billion subscriptions globally, compared with about 1 billion in 2002, the International Telecommunication Union said.
That’s a lot of cell phones and batteries that are going to end up burned in campfires or thrown out with the goat skulls and canteloupe rinds. The poor don’t have time, the brains or the moral compass to worry about recycling. They’re busy being poor, overpopulating the world, and practicing slash and burn agriculture.
Now, as much as I detest blaming the rich, I also detest blaming the poor — they just do what they always do. Smart species find a way to get over their pretense — “While all you care about is earning money, I am christlike and want to help those who cannot help themselves” — and limit their populations to the smart and upwardly-mobile. Meritocracy = Aristocracy.