Filed under: Business + Politics, Energy + Climate, Society + Media | Tags: Add new tag, blue collar, Kansas, Minimum wage, missouri, Prius
Some of you may have seen a previous post where Mark Johnson describes the green movement as elitist and commoditized. It was no surprise that most comments to Mr Johnson’s remark followed the “I get it… but….”structure; and proceeded to describe where his position could improve. After speaking to about a dozen people in the “labor” or “blue collar” category I think that Mr. Johnson may have been more correct than I would like to admit.
One topic popular in “green” chit-chat (including our class) is hybrid cars. One of the most popular for its “greenness” is the Toyota Prius. With its motto “Prius for the People”, it carries a $22,720 MSRP ($25,565 with touring package). Missouri has a minimum wage rate of $6.65 an hour while Kansas only guarantees $2.65. If I were to forego everything including food and shelter, it would take me about 2 years to afford this car under Missouri rates and over 4 years in Kansas.
My group has had the opportunity to speak with labor leaders as well as workers; and there seems to be a disconnect between their perceptions. On one side labor leaders (who are not blue collar themselves) think that their constituency cares and is affected by energy and environmental issues. On the other, all interviewees mentioned that they knew little about the subject and that it had little impact in their personal lives. They mostly focused on immediate, tangible concerns such as the cost of gasoline.
So, as we try to answer the question “who speaks for the environment”, we should also answer the question “who speaks for the people?”
3 Comments so far
Leave a comment