Every month, I receive an Eco-Sense Update from Ann and Gord Baird.
Canada is becoming more like America every day. Image by François Detemmerman
The Bairds are building their own home, with their own hands, and they decided to do so in as sustainable a way as is currently possible. And every month, when I read of the bureaucratic obstruction, the government handouts to big, old-tech, greenwashing corporations, I am angered and saddened and outraged at the colossal hypocrisy of our elected representatives. Why? Because they do everything they can to stand in the way of going green, even when doing so matches exactly what the politicians claim to stand for.
I am afraid we must face up to the fact that our democracy has been badly corrupted by special interest groups. It isn’t “ours” any more; it’s “their’s.” They won, we lost. Government programs favour whatever lobbyists pay for. The only way to correct this problem is to excise the gangrene. Enough of these freeloading CEOs, these corporate welfare artists, these people who don’t give a damn about anything except their money and their status, those who are willing to sell out our children’s future for stock options.
In British Columbia, perhaps the ‘greenest’ province in Canada, sustainable builders cannot get a license because the home warranty insurers won’t insure sustainable homes – the same types of homes that humans have been building for millenia and that stand for 500 years or longer.
Canada gives grants for “low flush toilets, energy efficient clothes dryers, efficient washing machines and dishwashers.” There are no tax breaks for NOT using this stuff. In reality, the purpose of the grants is to keep us consuming. In reality, the reason many politicians and executives advocate a gradual path to greenness is because they get to sell-sell-sell every step of the way. Increase efficiency by 10% every few years and you can sell more efficient appliances every few years. Make the jump to the best available ways of doing things in one step, and the corporations only get to sell to you once.
Think about the impact on the economy: if the Baird’s house lasts 500 years, the corporations only get to sell building materials once every 500 years. But think of all the money that stays in our pockets when that happens. That money is not lost; we just get to spend it on other things of our own choosing. And think of the solidity and quality of a house that will last 500 years.
And the ultimate slap-in-the-face: The Baird’s house will be assessed at
“substantially more than base market because it is novel. Let me get this right, we have a house that has been constructed at a cost substantially less than a conventional house even with all the systems in place, supported with documentation and this means… nothing?
It is worth more because you can’t and will never be able to have a soak in a bath? It is worth more because you’ll never be able to plug in a clothes dryer, that you have limits on the power you can use and therefore limits on your lifestyle? It is worth more because you only have buckets to dump in?
So our more affordable sustainable home that could not be legally built by a builder is worth more? If it’s so good why couldn’t we become builders and build more?”
Our government has not just failed us; it has betrayed us. When people do something that is better for themselves, their family, their neighbours, the environment, and the economy, and are penalised for doing so because it interferes with corporate welfare, it’s time to throw the lying scoundrels out. It’s time to consider the value of tar-and-feathers, of running the crooks out of town on a rail.
For the Baird’s full story visit: http://www.eco-sense.ca
Brian Gordon is a Canadian Green Party member and candidate trained by Al Gore to present An Inconvenient Truth.