Friday, September 28, 2007

Glad it's the weekend....

Whew. Rough day today. We just had a lot of work, and I was there almost an hour late, which is unusual for me. I was very happy when I finally walked out of there, believe me! Ken and I have the day off together tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that. We'll get a few things done, then watch the ND-Purdue game, although God knows why. On the Bob & Tom Show the other morning, a comedian named Costaki Economopoulos (gesundheit) said that Touchdown Jesus has a new name: "Another sack?! Jesus!" Ouch, man.

Since I wrote about this column yesterday, I'm including the whole thing here. I think it's brilliant, and I think he makes a very valid point--in a very funny way.

Offset away our guilt

If we can buy ‘carbon offsets’ for our environmental missteps, why not for our other sins?

By Peter Schweizer

Some environmentalists are pushing a nifty idea to get people out of the moral quandary of being alarmed by CO2 emissions but not wanting to change their lifestyles. They are called "carbon offsets," and everyone from Al Gore to the Presbyterian Church is pushing them.

The idea provides a simple way to absolve you of your guilt.

Say you are wealthy and fly on a Gulfstream G400 jet. The plane will emit 1 ton of CO2 per passenger per hour. Flying commercial on a Boeing 777 will emit only .06 tons per passenger per hour. Wealthy environmentalists feel guilt about this, so they buy a carbon offset to supposedly reduce carbon emissions by an equal amount. The "offset" comes in the form of paying for solar panels or planting trees that "offset" the damage you have done. Buy an offset and — voilĂ — you are "carbon neutral."

Americans are snapping up these offsets, according to Time magazine, and public figures such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., buy them regularly. In endorsing the practice, Time says the practice provides an opportunity to "pay for your carbon sins."

Offsets are a brilliant idea: They allow people to carry on with their current behavior, buy their way out of their obligations, and along the way declare their moral cleanliness. As The Seattle Times put it, offsets are basically an "eraser."

We all have areas of our life that we feel guilty about. So why limit offsets simply to the carbon we produce? Why not expand offsets to erase our other sins? After all, why should environmentalists have all the fun?

Here are some suggestions:

* The Adultery Offset. People who are caught in compromising positions could purchase an offset from a pro-marriage organization such as Focus on the Family. By buying the Adultery Offset, the guilty party would counterbalance their adultery footprint with a monogamous couple trained by this organization. Like the carbon-emitter absolved of carbon sin, this would allow an individual to be declared "adultery neutral" instantly. As with carbon offsets, the guilty parties would not actually have to stop engaging in adultery; he or she would simply need to write a check after every occurrence. Two enterprising Britons have even set up a satirical website called demonstrating how this could be done.

During the last Oscar ceremony, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science gave each Oscar presenter a carbon offset of 100,000 pounds of CO2, roughly double the average American's annual output. The Adultery Offset might prove to be even more popular in Hollywood.

* The Pilates Offset. Spending more time in the gym might be the best way to combat America's growing obesity crisis, but if you can't make it, don't worry. A Pilates Offset purchased from a local gym would absolve you of any of the weighty responsibility for obesity in America. With the offset, you would be paying for other people to become physically fit. Their increased buffness would neutralize your expanding waistline, and you would be "fat neutral."

Carbon offset companies offer decals that guilty Americans with large SUVs can put on their cars to declare that they are "carbon neutral." Obese Americans who purchased a Pilates Offset would receive a T-shirt declaring them physically fit, or at least "fat neutral." A Time article last October said you could buy carbon offsets as part of a "Low Carbon Diet." Why not offer them for real diets?

* The Tofu Offset. Do you want to tell your hip friends that you are vegan, but you just can't give up cheeseburgers? A simple solution would be to purchase a Tofu Offset from your local health foods store. With a TofuPass, you could maintain your status as a strict vegetarian without actually giving up the double-cheeseburger with bacon.

Terrapass, a carbon-offset company, calculates that if you drive 12,000 miles peryear, you can offset your automobile's annual 20,000 pounds of carbon output with a $79.95 "Road Tripper" package.

To counteract that bacon double-cheeseburger, we could offer the "Whopper" package, which would allow you to indulge in your carnivorous habits but help fund vegan food stores. You could slap a sticker on your car that says "Eat Vegan" and still go through the McDonald's drive-through in good conscience.

* The Pamela Anderson Offset. If you are concerned about the humane treatment of animals but just love fur coats or veal piccata, this is the offset for you. By purchasing offsets from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, you would stay in the good graces of PETA activists without giving up these luxuries. Perhaps PETA could do the same for small mammals, too. Attend an animal rights rally in your fur coat. It will be OK when you show them your PETA offset.

If these offsets don't sound quite so appealing, don't be alarmed. True, you might be outsourcing your moral responsibilities for something you care about and paying off your obligations without changing your behavior. But if we do this right, offsets will give us all a chance to be morally clean, concerned citizens without actually making any changes in our life. What could be better than that?

Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and co-editor of a new book, Landmark Speeches of the American Conservative Movement.

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