Wikipedia defines the Yellow Vests Movement as “a populist, grassroots, revolutionary political movement for economic justice that began in France in October 2018.” The movement is motivated by rising fuel prices as well as government and crony-capitalist-induced escalations in the cost of living.
The Yellow Vests Movement holds that a disproportionate burden of government tax “reforms” fall on “non-elites” – the working and middle classes – particularly in rural and suburban areas. In France, the Movement has called for direct democracy through the implementation of citizens' initiative referendums.
The Movement spans the political spectrum, drawing from voters on both the Right and Left who have been pushed to the “periphery” by government policies that support crony capitalism. It gets its name from yellow high-visibility vests, which French government regulation requires all drivers have in their vehicles and to wear during emergencies.
Writers as diverse as Ralph Nadar, Chris Hedges, and Christophe Guilluy have written about a fusion of economically stressed voters on the “periphery” of the new economy coming together to challenge government and crony capitalist elites. It has been noted that the Trump prosperity has temporarily slowed down this evolution, much in the way that Watergate (1974) was simply a bump in the road on the way to a conservative resurgence and the election of Ronald Reagan and a Republican-controlled Senate (1980).
The Yellow Vest Movement started with the imposition of a new “green” fuel tax that was the last straw for working and middle class voters trying to make ends meet. Now it looks like New Jersey is heading down the same road. On Monday, the NJ Spotlight reported:
In what could amount to the most significant regional effort yet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 12 states have issued a draft policy framework to create a cap-and-trade program to reduce global warming pollution from vehicles.
The proposal, developed by the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), is modeled somewhat after the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program that for the past decade has helped clamp down on carbon pollution from power plants.
This draft framework, while sparse in details, proposes to put a cap on emissions from the transportation sector by requiring state fuel suppliers to buy allowances, which would be auctioned off for the right to emit carbon.
The draft does not describe what the level of caps would be, precisely who would be regulated, how much the allowances could cost, or how quickly the caps would go down. The transportation sector has replaced the power industry as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In New Jersey, the sector accounts for roughly 40% of the state’s carbon pollution.
Motorists will likely pay at the pump
In the end, the cost will likely end up being paid for by motorists at the pump, a difficult choice for New Jersey and other states already pursuing new clean-energy solutions that are expected to be reflected in higher energy bills — at least for the short term.
Within the United States, New Jersey has perhaps the clearest elite vs. working class divide with more than half the state’s poor families living in rural and suburban communities subsidizing the property taxes of wealthy professionals and rich corporations nestled in the so-called Abbott Districts. Government directed, taxpayer-subsidized, crony-capitalists in Abbotts like Camden reap profits by husbanding poverty.
How will higher fuel costs go down with voters who are already stretched to the limit? How is this latest Murphy administration scheme going to help a state with a high rate of foreclosure and the highest property taxes in America?
Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space have proposed legislation to block Governor Murphy’s plans to raise the cost of fuel in New Jersey. A-5042 prohibits New Jersey’s participation in multi-state cap and trade programs like that proposed by the Transportation & Climate Initiative.
This legislation should get bi-partisan support before November 5th and the cold weather months set in. Higher fuel prices are not something anyone wants to see for the holidays.