Daryl Cagle Daryl Cagle, 3/10/2008 [Archive]

The Seven Deadly Offset Credits

The Vatican just announced a brand new, modern set of seven deadly sins to supplant the old seven sins which have grown pretty tired through the years. The old seven deadly sins: lust, wrath, gluttony, sloth, greed, pride, and envy were proclaimed by a sixth century pope and were made famous by Dante in his "Divine Comedy" and by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in the movie "Seven," which was a pretty darn scary movie.

The new sins are:

1. Genetic engineering

2. Drug abuse

3. The disparity between the very rich and the very poor

4. Pollution

5. Abortion

6. Pedophilia

7. Causing social injustice

The church describes the new sins as social in nature and "a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalization." Societies have experience regulating social issues, like pollution, and that experience gives us a great leg up on regulating the other sins.

California's Governor Schwarzenegger likes to fly his jet home, from Sacramento to Los Angeles, each night after work, so he can spend time with his family. Schwarzenegger creates a lot of pollution in his daily commute, but the governor buys carbon-offset credits from businesses that are more environmentally friendly than they need to be, selling their eco-surplus back to the governor. Al Gore does the same thing, reducing his big carbon footprint from his private flights and his big houses by buying carbon-offset credits. It's cool. Offsets work. It's the free-market solution and the system works for other sins too.

"The disparity between the very rich and the very poor" is another great sin for offset credits. Very poor people could sell their "poor-people-offset credits" to very rich people who need to relieve their guilt about being rich and reduce the size of their very rich footprint. "Poor-people-offset credits" would create a free market of guilt-reduction exchanged for income redistribution that would work every bit as well as the carbon-offset credits work to reduce the guilt of polluters.

In fact, the system applies to all of the deadly sins. This afternoon I watched New York Governor Eliot Spitzer squirm, under the glare of his dowdy wife, at a one-minute press conference about his being caught as the customer of a high-priced hooker. I've never used the services of a prostitute myself, and I think I deserve some credit for that ­ credits that I should be able to sell to Governor Spitzer at a time when he really needs the "hooker-offsets."

In fact, I personally fare much better with this new set of seven deadly sins than I did with the first set. As an editorial cartoonist, I create very little pollution ­ I even use those curly light bulbs. Given the number of pencils I use, I probably haven't killed any more than one tree in my whole career. Two at the most. Not counting the paper.

I don't cause social injustice (not much anyway); I'm not a pedophile; I don't have abortions; I don't abuse drugs or do any genetic engineering. I score so well on the new sins test that I should be awarded plenty of offsets that I could sell back to the Vatican to offset their pedophile priest problem.

I'll be rich! (But not "very rich," because that would be a sin.)



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