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Problem Of Evil Solved: Just Offset It By Fred E. Foldvary


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Kinda Science, somewhat Op-Ed, posted FWIMBW to reader..






March 27, 2007 Problem of Evil Solved: Just Offset It by Fred E. Foldvary




[/b]Some wealthy environmentalists who urge the world to reduce global-warming pollution are themselves using huge amounts of pollution-producing energy. They own houses which consume much more energy for heating and lighting than the average dwelling, have several large vehicles that spew out emissions, and ride on jets that pour out noxious fumes. Yet these rich greenies urge everybody else to change their lifestyles to reduce energy use and cut down on harmful emissions.


How do they justify their energy binging? They say the are not doing any evil, because they have offset their bads with goods. They have bought “carbon offsets” that cancel out their own pollution. For example, they pay to plant trees in Africa. These trees take in carbon dioxide, which makes up for the greenies’ carbon emissions.


In fact, several carbon-offset Internet sites show you how to offset your pollution using “carbon calculators.” You tell the calculator what kind of house you live in, how many residents there are, what kind of car you have and how much your drive, how much air travel you do, and what you eat, and presto! They tell you how much to donate to their organization. You can also buy a decal for your car’s bumper proudly telling the world that your car’s carbon emission have been balanced by sponsoring a clean-energy project. Now you are absolved of your environmental sins. You are now an environmental virgin. Go, and sin again, because all you need to do is donate again.


During the Middle Ages in Europe, a rich guy could buy indulgences from the Catholic Church, which offset their sins. Repenting and sinning no more was for peasants. Now we have environmental indulgences, so that we don’t need pollution levies to reduce emissions. We can just buy absolution with an environmental indulgence. It’s even better than the religious indulgence, because the Catholic indulgence presumed that the sin was already forgiven, while the environmental indulgence itself forgives the sin of polluting.


If carbon offsets are such a good idea, why not apply it to other areas of life?


Are you gambling too much? Donate money to an organization opposed to gambling. Now you can gamble as much as you like, because you have offset it by reducing somebody else’s gambling.


Did you embezzle money from the company you work for? No problem: just offset this with donations to a worthy cause. This nets out your theft.


Are you cheating on your spouse? You can cleanse your guilt and offset this sin by donating money to an organization that promotes family values. The greater fidelity of others will offset your cheating.


Did you murder somebody and get away with this? Stop feeling guilty by donating money to those promoting better law enforcement. If you can prevent a murder, this offsets your own murder.


Are you cruel to animals? You don’t need to stop. Just absolve yourself by donating to the humane society. If others are kind to animals, that offsets your cruelty.


Do you litter? Are you one of those smokers who toss the butt on the ground, squish it with your foot, and just leave it there for others to clean up? Cleanse your sin by donating to an anti-smoking group. That way, you don’t have to go to the trouble of actually disposing the litter in a trash bin.


Are you a boorish cell-phone talker, who disturbs others in a bus or train by loudly talking on and on? Absolve yourself by donating money to the Christian Science church, since it provides quiet reading rooms all over the world. You can then continue disturbing others, because the invasion has been offset!


Did you raise your children badly, so they are now delinquents? Cleanse this sin by donating money to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or a big brother or sister program. A good boy will offset your bad boy.


Are you addicted to alcohol or other drugs? If you donate money to an organization that helps people to stop their addiction and recover, you can keep on abusing your body and feel better about it. Your addiction has been offset by helping somebody else quit and recover.


Perhaps you were a government official who helped start an awful war. Offset this by sending taxpayers’ money to reduce suffering from poverty and diseases. The good deeds will offset the damage from the war!


If you eat fish which have been raised in a sea farm that pollutes the oceans and kills many other fish, offset this by buying gold fish and keeping them in a clean tank.


With offsets, we can pollute as much as we want to, because we can offset the damage. We don’t have to stop polluting and plundering the planet if the perpetrators are able to buy their way out with offsets. Actually reducing pollution is only necessary for the poor, who can’t afford to buy indulgences.


Welcome to the Church of Environmental Absolution, where we can indulge in pollution by simply calculating how much we pollute and then buying our way out by paying to plant trees somewhere. When the fish in the ocean have been killed off, our drinking war is all contaminated, and violence makes us all terrified, nobody will be responsible, because they have offset their evil with good.


At last, we have solved the problem of evil! Just offset it!


This article first appeared in the Progress Report, www.progress.org. Reprinted with permission.


Dr. Fred Foldvary teaches economics at Santa Clara University and is the author of several books: The Soul of Liberty, Public Goods and Private Communities, and the Dictionary of Free-Market Economics



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Somewhat related, the self appointed annointed King of Offsets...


Al's Warming Lies & The Real "Inconvenient Truth"

Murray op ed in The New York Post


Op-Eds & Articles

by Iain Murray

March 22, 2007


Al Gore was born and spent most of his life in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, he returned to the fever swamp to show he's forgotten none of his old political tricks.


Addressing the House and Senate on global warming, he put forth a litany of half-truths that he twisted into a morality tale. But the facts tell a different story. The former veep is a master politician, not a prophet or a planetary savior.


Gore's biggest rhetorical trick is saying that the Earth has a fever. He says that 10 of the hottest years in history came in the last 11 years, and this proves we must do something, because, "If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor."


This is meaningless. The Earth has been much, much hotter in the past than today. No giant space nanny fed it medicine.


Moreover, a healthy baby has a constant temperature—that's why a fever is bad. The Earth does not have a constant temperature. It has been generally warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the early 19th century, but that has not been uniform. It's had warming phases (the 1920s and 1930) and cooling phases (the 1940s to 1970s).


It's also had periods like today, when temperatures are flat—there hasn't been much warming since 1998. Yes, it's warmer today than it was a hundred years ago, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Talking about fevers is misleading, but it's a great rhetorical trick.


And when it comes to the economics of the issue, Gore is way outside the mainstream. Appearing before a House committee, he said that changing the American economy in the way he proposes—a plan of freezes, taxes, market controls and regulations that would represent a massive expansion of government control over the economy—would not be costly.


Yet he also endorsed the ill-fated Kyoto Protocol (which he helped negotiate). The U.S. Energy Information Administration calculates that Kyoto would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $100 billion to $400 billion a year.


Gore is a very wealthy man, but it's hard to see why he can't recognize that this is a lot of money lost—and a lot of jobs lost and a lot of families going cold and hungry.


How does Gore address this point? He doesn't; he simply avoids it, with highfalutin rhetoric. It's not just the Earth's "fever" and our supposed moral duty to cure it; he says our descendants will either condemn us as blind or praise us for our moral courage. He also makes veiled references to himself as Churchill, while all around him others appease fascism.


It's not subtle stuff—nor accurate.


If you establish that the Earth is warming, it doesn't necessarily follow that we have a moral duty to reduce emissions. What should follow is an informed debate about the costs and benefits of various policies to address that warming—reducing emissions is just one possible answer. Another debate should focus on those policies' economic costs.


Al Gore doesn't want to have those debates, because the majority of evidence suggests that emissions reduction will be very costly and will have little effect. Kyoto, fully enacted by all its parties, would for all its cost, reduce global warming by a mere 0.07 degrees Celsius by 2050—a barely detectable amount.


Meanwhile, 2 billion people around the world go without electricity. About 3 million die each year because of fumes given off by primitive stoves. The U.S. economy sneezes when gasoline hits $3 a gallon.


If we have a moral duty, it's to keep energy affordable here and to expand access to it overseas. That's the real moral truth, however inconvenient for Al Gore.


© 2001-2007, Competitive Enterprise Institute. All rights reserved.


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