We’re back to those crazy days long ago when the Roman Catholic Church, through hubris and greed, almost destroyed itself. In Roman Catholic theology an indulgence, to put it very simply, is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment for sins that have been forgiven. The church granted indulgence after the sinner confessed and received absolution. As the Middle Ages moved into the Renaissance indulgences began to be regarded as a commodity that could be bought and sold. Professional pardoners traveled Christendom granting written indulgences for a host of venial sins, for a price. The church used its take from the transaction not only to build the magnificent ecclesiastic structures that are the hallmark of Roman Catholicism but also to provide an opulent lifestyle for the same clergy that authorized and promoted the indulgence trade. Disgust for the Indulgence racket helped effect the Protestant Reformation that ended Roman Catholic hegemony in Europe.

While good things from the past often remain hidden, most of the bad stuff always finds its way into the present. Indulgences for sale are now all the rage, as this astonishing story about financing the Democratic Nation Convention, relates. California Democrats have recruited Pacific Gas & Electric Co., northern California’s power provider, to "offset" the carbon emissions from the convention in Denver this summer.

What on earth does offsetting carbon emissions mean? As the global warming hoax metastasizes the ostensible goal of responsible governments, organizations and individuals is to reduce the production of carbon dioxide, a gas that, according to fashionable mythology, causes planetary warming. The Democratic Convention will unleash tons of carbon dioxide as power is produced to provide transportation of the delegates to and from Denver, to provide air circulation in the convention center, to cook the food the delegates will eat, along with all the rest of the activities that are required to bring larges numbers of people together. There is absolutely no way to hold the convention without contributing to heating up the earth. The Democratic Party, therefore, is guilty of a sin.

To wash itself in the font of cleansing water, the Democrats have arranged for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to buy an indulgence, dubbed carbon credits, from a redwood forest in northern California. In the "cap and trade" scheme, under which all of us will soon be living, non or minimally polluting entities, such as the redwood forest, which produces no carbon dioxide, sells its allocation for nasty carbon dioxide production to an industry that does produce the gas. PG&E is now morally and soon-to-be legally entitled to emit more carbon dioxide. To make the political coersion glaringly clear, the power company is not only delivering its cash to a redwood forest that has done absolutely nothing to earn it but is also paying tribute to the California Democratic Party, whose members in the state government hold enormous sway over the utility’s future.

Political structures now fulfill the function of the pardoners for hire, as they grant absolution, for a price, to entities that cannot survive without the good will of the politicians. Middlemen, like the redwood forest owners, receive their cut by facilitating the cash flow between those with the bucks and those with the political power. A reduction in carbon dioxide production, the goal all parties say they support, doesn’t occur. All parties, however, get to feel good about themselves. One gets free money, the other gets a place at the table and the most important of the trio, the politicians, get to cement their control over both. The people, once the indulgences become law, will get nothing except their pockets picked, just like the ratepayers whose monthly payments to PG&E will help finance the Democratic Convention.



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