cap-OR-JAIL !


Alternate title:

Pollution is
the new gold.

CO2 is a sign of excessive
heat generation exciting all
those N2 and O2 molecules,
which are 99% of the atmosphere.

(2010 Jun blog post)

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This Cap-Or-Jail page

! Note !
A few more web links may be added
to provide additional info on the cap issue
--- if/when I re-visit this page.

Add heat generation by utilities
to all the gas flares, ovens,
furnaces, combustion engines, etc.
all over the world --- increasing in number,
exponentially --- like the human population.


All the talk about 'cap-and-trade' in relation to a proposed Congressional energy bill in 2010 points out that 'cap-and-trade' is the centerpiece of such a bill.

If this is going to be the guts of our energy bill, then God help Mother Earth.

Cap-and-trade is just a way to commoditize ('monetize') pollution.

Cap-and-trade establishes a trade in greenhouse gas emissions (say, in tons of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, oxygen oxide [ozone]).

Cap-and-trade allows the major sources of pollution (like coal burning entities --- companies, manufacturers, government agencies, universities) to keep on polluting unabated by allowing them to buy pollution credits from other sources of pollution (like entities that are burning natural gas instead of coal --- entities who have been given some pollution credits that they are not going to use.)

    If there are an excessive amount of pollution credits 'dumped' into the market (either to start with or as time goes on), then there is going to be no real cap in place.

    Cap-and-trade will just be a lot of trading with no capping.

    This is why I write 'cap-and-TRADE' --- emphasis on the TRADE. I am tempted to use a smaller font for the 'cap' part.

    There is going to be no actual 'cap' in a 'cap-and-TRADE' system.

The Republican free-enterprise vultures are circling :

The Republicans are salivating over the prospect of a 'cap-and-TRADE' system.

You should have seen Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) at a Senate hearing ( circa 2009 Jan 28 ) at which Al Gore pointed out that China has a cap-or-imprison policy, NOT a cap-and-trade policy.

In that hearing, Corker was obviously eager for the TRADE part of 'cap-and-TRADE' to start.

Corker was clearly less interested in the 'cap' part.

It was from Gore's comment that I got the idea for the slogan

cap-OR-JAIL ... NOT cap-and-TRADE!

I plan to have this phrase put on t-shirts that I will wear frequently. (A link to my Environment t-shirts page is here.)

Pollution = Gold

There are people in the financial industry who are going 'ga-ga' over the prospect of having a new way to get commissions on trading --- in this case, commissions and fees on trading in pollution.

Heaven knows that there are 'low-lifes' in the financial industry who were dislodged from their comfortable scams by the 2008 mortgage 'melt-down' and who are now looking for a new outlet for their 'innovations'.

Example 'Low-Lifes':

  • 'street-corner' generators of sub-prime mortgages, where the mortgages were based on getting people to sign mortgage contracts after convincing the 'prey' that the prey could handle variable-rate mortgages with no down payment --- even though the eventual payments would probably consume more than 40% of their gross (not net) income.

    [More like over 60% of their net income.]

    The ads of 'reputable' banks: "Bad credit? Bankruptcy? No problem. Mortgages available with no down payment."

    The CNBC documentary program called 'House of Cards', that CNBC showed repeatedly in 2009 and 2010, pointed out many cases of former physical trainers --- and all sorts of people untrained in the financial industry --- who were able to open 'street-corner' mortgage companies. That documentary is also available on DVD.

    These outrages were also documented in a 'House of Cards' book.

    In these mortgage 'chop-shops', the typical mode-of-operation was to tell their 'prey' to leave blank the part of the form that asked for their current income.

    The 'Main Street' mortgage broker offered to fill that in. You can guess what they did. They manufactured income figures nowhere near the real income of the borrower.

      This was happening on 'Main Street'.
      'Main Street' was in cahoots with 'Wall Street'.

    And it wasn't just the mortgage generators perpetrating this scam. These 'perps' were aided, on 'Main Street', by the local appraisers who were rewarded for generating inflated appraisals on properties involved in these mortgages.

    'Main Street' is just as much to blame as 'Wall Street', for the 2008 global melt-down.

    To continue the 'low-lifes' list:

  • Then there were/are the 'packagers' of the mortgages for sale in 'bundles'. These people may be on either 'Main Street' or 'Wall Street'.

  • Then there were/are the 'high-rent' firms on Wall Street who were creating even bigger packages of mortgages --- which were loaded down with 80% or more crappy ('sub-prime') mortgages.

    These 'high-rent' firms were being really 'innovative' by carefully planning to indulge in 'short' trades on these 'instruments' after unloading them on some unsuspecting 'patsy'.

    The Wall Street low-lifes would gain in the initial sale and then gain even more in the subsequent short trading.

    The most notorious example of this was certain people in Goldman Sachs --- who created these packages and managed to unload a lot of them on one of their fellow Wall Street firms --- Lehman Brothers. Goldman Sachs has probably more to do with the failure of Lehman Brothers than any other entity.

Anyway, the point here is that there are plenty of people in the financial industry who are somewhat under-employed at the moment who are eager to jump into this new market of trading in pollution.

There will not be much capping going on in this environment --- just lots of trading --- in things that should be considered junk (carbon dioxide, etc.), but that are going to be transformed into gold, so to speak, by a 'cap-and-TRADE' system.

A modest proposal :

When I say

cap-OR-JAIL, NOT cap-and-TRADE!

I mean jail for the CEO (the head of the pollution generation entity) --- not for some middle manager or for some flunky.

It will take at least a few months in jail of one or two of these CEO's to make the other CEO's take capping of pollution seriously.

I trust it would take just one or two high-profile cases to convince the pollution generators that it is time to bite the bullet and start reducing their pollution generation as much as current technology allows --- and, henceforth, to help the technology along to generate even more reductions in pollution.

Back to reality :   (cap-or-JAIL unlikely)

    (How about 'cap-or-LOSE-TAX-CREDITS'?
    ... a carrot-like approach, as opposed to stick-like)

I realize that the actual passage of laws to jail CEO's for violation of pollution caps is not likely to ever really come about. (The CEO's have too many friends in Congress.)

    Furthermore, there are technical issues in defining pollutants, their relative noxiousness, and how to quantify the mix of various pollutants.

Putting the technical issues on hold temporaritly, one of the great motivators in life (and especially in business) is money --- for example, in the form of tax credits.

So, while an energy bill based on cap-OR-JAIL may be unrealistic, an energy bill based on CAP-or-LOSE-TAX-CREDITS might be palatable.

Note that such a motivational structure has certain socio-economic benefits. Namely :

    Those who cap their pollution aggressively are rewarded for not putting a pollution burden on the general populace --- a burden which would probably have to be dealt with by government programs. Example: The super-fund cleanup sites which have been a negative drain on the government economy stretching over decades.

    On the other hand, those who are lax in their pollution abatement efforts would lose out on the tax credits --- and the government could use the resulting tax-flow to deal with their pollution effects.

Tough issues in quantifying pollution :

In structuring a properly motivating structure for the 'cap system', the 'devil [as always] will be in the details'.

One of the bigger challenges in this endeavor at proposing a legislative structure is answering the questions:

  • How do we measure 'aggressive' pollution reduction? Pounds of pollution produced? How to measure those pounds? Who measures those pounds? OR ... use some ratio of pounds of pollution to BTU's of energy produced --- a measure of efficiency?

  • How do we measure the pollution when there are multiple pollutants involved --- carbon-oxides, nitrogen-oxides, sulfur-oxides, etc.?

  • Heat generation should be considered a pollutant. How do we get true measures of the amount of heat generated by each entity? And how does that amount figure into the pollution control calculations?

  • How do we apply a reward structure to the measurement(s) we come up with? Tax credits in proportion to the aggressive-pollution-reduction measure?

If I have some thoughts on details of such a motivating structure (more light than heat), I may add the details here --- along with suitable web links.

For now, I am blogged-out.

A 'Stick Method' of capping   (instead of carrot)

There was reported talk of an agreeable nature, on a straight carbon tax, between Corker and Gore in the Senate hearing referred to above.

    I don't remember seeing Corker talk much on a carbon tax in that hearing. He may have been pretending to be friendly to Gore on the carbon tax issue, but I think there is no chance in hell he would ever vote for such a tax.

    I DO remember how Corker seemed to be almost unable to contain his excitement over the prospect of establishing a market in trading pollution as if it is gold.

I prefer the 'carbon tax solution' to a 'cap-and-TRADE' non-solution.

But I think that there may be better ways to reduce carbon-related pollution (heat generation and oxide emissions).

One problem with a 'carbon tax' (other than that no Republican, even Corker, would vote for it) is that it is seemingly all stick and no carrot. I favor using carrots to sticks --- and tailoring the motivation to achieving desirable behaviors.

Prediction (with sarcasm):
Around the year 2020, the U.S. dollar will be
replaced by pollution as the standard of exchange.

Historical perspective:
From the gold standard to the
pollution standard in about 100 years.


For any one wishing to follow up on these pollution (and heat generation) 'capping' issues, here are some WEB SEARCH links on keywords:

Bottom of this
cap-OR-JAIL --- NOT cap-and-TRADE page.

To return to a previously visited web page location, click on the Back button of your web browser, a sufficient number of times. OR, use the History-list option of your web browser.
OR ...

< Go to Top of Page, above >

Or you can scroll up, to the top of this page.

Page history :

Page was created 2010 Jun 16
(but conceived about a year earlier).

Page was changed 2013 Apr 26.
(Changed page format slightly.)

Page was changed 2019 May 06.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)

Page was changed 2019 Jun 05.
(Specified image widths in percents to size the images according to width of the browser window.)

These carbon emission graphs are a good indication of
the growth in heat generation --- that goes into making
all the N2 and O2 molecules
(99% of Earth's atmosphere)
increase their average velocity
(i.e. raise atmospheric temperature).