Environment – Capping-and-Trading Carbon Credits – Why Stop There?

Some of the proposed solutions for global warming like capping-and-trading of carbon credits can actually be transferred to other sectors and applied to other pressing social problems.

Take education in general, and illiteracy in particular, for example.

Why not create an artificial scarcity of illiteracy just like creating an artificial scarcity of carbon dioxide emissions?

Just like both the private sector and the Congress are working in parallel tracks to determine a cap on the kind of “carbon footprint” that private corporations can have without incurring any penalties, the Congress, private sector and the municipalities can also work on an artificial cap on the percentage of illiteracy that will be allowed in a city, county, state, or even corporation.

Different “certificates” or “permits” can be issued for different levels of “illiteracy.”

Then, the entities that are below their “illiteracy quotas” can sell their permits to those entities that have too many illiterates. Hopefully the cost of buying such permits will be so prohibitive that the entity in question will soon see the benefit of marshaling all its resources to bring its illiteracy level to within the cap limits.

And what if an entity can neither afford such illiteracy credits nor pull its illiteracy to within the cap limits? You obviously cannot “shut down” a city as though it were a corporation.

Perhaps Congress and state legislators can index such compliance to withholding of various funds from the state or federal budget?

At some point this should have a positive snowballing effect on those who comply fast with such illiteracy caps – not only they would make money by selling their permits but also they would enhance the educational attainment of their workforce even further by channeling such new funds again into their educational system. Thus I have to admit that this idea carries in its nucleus the danger of making the good even better while punishing the already disadvantaged even further – unless they do something about it.

Sometimes such real and credible threats, on the one hand, and real and credible rewards, on the other, are exactly what is needed to galvanized whole communities into some serious action and give them the necessary motivation to achieve what has until then been deemed “impossible.”