Credit Due

Capitalism creates exploitation opportunities at every turn. Capitalism has excelled at grinding the great mass of humanity into indentured servitude better than feudalists could have dreamed, all the while placating by dangling the false hope that “you too can strike it rich.” On top of that, in less than 200 years since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, capitalists polluted the world at a pace to create a major mass extinction event, with zero prospect of reversal. That’s progress.

Economists call such progress an “externality” to production. There’s handsome profiteering in externalities.

Rather than repressing externalities by criminalizing pollution, plutocratic governments worldwide have joined to subsidize polluters, creating tradable “carbon credits” so that polluters can profit.

Carbon credits are earned by reducing production of industrial gases that accelerate global warming. The more potent the hothouse brew, the more credit given. Companies are “earning tens of millions of dollars a year… churning out more harmful coolant gas so they can be paid to destroy its waste byproduct,” The New York Times reports.

The United Nations and European Union are startled at their own ineptitude in not anticipating the scheme whereby they subsidize pollution production. “I was a climate negotiator and no one had this in mind,” confessed David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council. By definition, that would make the negotiators mindless.

The UN and EU claim they would like to tweak the rigging. But China and India, where the polluting con artists are primarily located, “have been resisting mightily.” Meanwhile, The New York Times points out, large Western companies have profited too, including Honeywell and Goldman Sachs.

Economic and ecological violence are intrinsic to capitalism. Governments everywhere rely upon the karmic wheel of capitalism to fund their incompetent regimes. What’s a little externality among friends?!


Ishi Nobu, Spokes of the Wheel Book 6: The Fruits of Civilization (pre-publication).

Elisabeth Rosenthal & Andrew W. Lehren, “Carbon credits gone awry raise output of harmful gas,” The New York Times (8 August 2012).