Soothing Green Guilt

While unapologetic free-marketers can enjoy the fruits of their labors (small or large) guilt free, the rich on the left have to find ways to soothe their consciences, especially when they have massive consumption habits. For some—like Al Gore and John Kerry—that means buying “carbon offsets.” For others—like Jay Leno—it means sinking gobs of money (albeit, still a small fraction of their incomes) into green technologies.

According to Jay Leno, “If you want to keep living the way you’re living, then, hey, you better make your own electricity.” In a Los Angeles Times article, he explains how he shoveled out $450,000 for solar panels generate just 41 percent of the energy he uses to run air conditioning and power tools in his “Big Dog Garage.” Leno’s 17,000-square-foot garage consists of several antique cars, a high-tech automobile repair and restoration shop, and a gourmet kitchen! I don’t begrudge Jay Leno for having this expensive hobby, but his claim to having a “green” lifestyle is a bit laughable.

He says that the solar panels will pay for themselves in just eight years! Wow! If that’s true, it means that the panels, on average, would save Leno $56,250 a year in energy for his hobby. Remember, supposedly that’s only 41 percent of his energy usage. The 59 percent balance comes from the local utility.

Leno says that he hopes his use of “green technologies” will help in the development of these products, leading to a world in which they will be affordable for the rest of us. Well, maybe (but most likely not). But for now, they probably help him sleep at night.