Man of the Spring
Armed Liberal understands that it's everyone's dream to be rich in America; that most people -- Democrats included -- aspire to having money in the bank, executive transportation and the 10,000 square foot house. But what happens when the rich must also pretend to be Earth Friendly? When you come right down to it, just how low a footprint can a mansion have and still be a mansion? What would be the point of having a mansion and turning it into a dump? To try and be rich and environmentally friendly is to be caught between a rock and a hard place, because to live rich is by definition to consume. When I was just out of my teens I lived a very environmentally friendly life, sleeping on church benches; rarely laundering my clothes; eating minimally. Walking everywhere. This kind of life is called poverty and is characterized by the fact that you can't afford or consume anything.
Created in 1783, the Petit Hameau was a mock farm area, complete with farmhouse, dairy, and poultry yard ... all areas traditionally associated with women. When visiting this ersatz farm, Marie Antoinette and her attendants would dress as shepherdesses, and play at milking the cows and tending other docile animals. The farmhouse interior was more opulent, featuring all of the luxuries expected by the Queen and her ladies. ...
Novelists, playwrights, and moralists encouraged the aristocracy to act their part by giving a helping hand to the deserving poor in well-staged events that would reflect well on them. The poor had a tendency to take the aristocrats to court if they failed in their traditional duties, and they often won their cases.
The contradiction between trying to become rich and staying a Friend of the Earth is the Problem of Evil of environmental religion. And the impossibility of squaring the circle forces most people not to think about the paradoxes involved. They just go through life both trying to become financially successful and putting their groceries in a recyclable supermarket bags without considering the absurdity of it. "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand knoweth." But absurdities are rarely obvious else the old time Mafia hitmen who went to church to pray for good luck before locking and loading would have noticed them.
Considering that it is practically impossible to dissuade people from pursuing prosperity, about all one can hope for to minimize the use of resources given a certain level of consumption. To have fuel efficient palaces and high-milage private planes. To be filthy rich in an environmentally acceptable sort of way. But this kind of prosperity sounds suspiciously like the kind of world a well-functioning market would produce anyway; because the marketplace creates efficient products. If so, the only substantive role of environmentalism would to set fashion trends that the market would fulfill, to make certain types of product characteristics more desirable than others. But then -- ok -- we're back at the Petit Hameau, where fashion rules under the guise of a shepherdesses' smock. Poor Al Gore.