Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The cost of good

I wake each weekday to Adam Spencer. That drifty time from sleep to wake is filled with today's new debate. A few weeks ago, I listened to callers complaining that their promised rebate for solar power going back into the electricity grid was being cut from sixty cents to forty cents a unit.

So it may be that my dream-laden state has influenced my reaction to this issue. People rang to complain about the government not honouring contracts and recounted stories of spending large amounts on solar panels with the plan that the rebate for extra power would pay the cost of the equipment. GetUp emailed me to join an email protest campaign. I just felt annoyed. The phrase "Suck it up" came to mind. Harsh, I know.

Today it filtered into my half-awake state again. Barry O'Farrell chatted with Adam about his 'backflip' on the solar rebate cuts. So the complaints were pretty vocal, and ultimately effective.

And I'm considering why I feel disappointed.

It's not because I'm against solar power, or because I'm against exerting political power.

I am annoyed about human nature. That we decide to make positive changes for the environment or the community, because they are cost effective, rather than because they are right. That we complain about our expected income decreasing because there are other needs in the community for government money to be spent on. That we expect that someone else should pay for our solar panels.

Ultimately, we are selfish beings and we don't like to consider that higher taxes, or lower rebates, or paying the true cost of goods, is actually going to benefit the community. There will be more money to spend on other people's needs - on Overseas Aid, on mental health programs, on employing people etc. etc. That I am not actually the most important person in the world. That some people are never going to see $55,000 let alone withdraw it from their super to buy solar panels for their house (and then expect the government to cover the cost and whinge when they'll only get two-thirds of it rather than all of it).

I am disappointed that we complain as if we are poor, when we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world. That we have such poor perspective on what really matters. And I'm talking to myself in this, too. I wish we could be people who do right because it is good to do right, not because it is economically viable or cost effective.

Here ends the rant :)

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