Sunday, 23 October 2011

Admissions trading.

I thought I heard my friend talk about carbon admissions today.  He said emissions of course, but it got me thinking about what an admissions trading scheme would look like, carbon or otherwise.

A lot of the new carbon economy seems to be about accounting systems and the quality of the reports that the accounting system can deliver.  Whether your report card is showing a good or a poor outcome, how good is the actual report card itself? This is the crux of the matter.  This kind of thinking takes me back to the mid 1990's when I sat on numerous committees whose purpose was to monitor equal employment opportunity and occupational health and safety.  Whether or not the committees were meeting regularly was one of the measures of how successful the organisation was in these areas.  I thought it was pretty pointless most of the time, but to say so would have seen me treated like a heretic in mediaeval times.

There is a theory of management that says you should measure the areas in which you wish to achieve change as the focus from the upper echelons will signal that everyone should be focussed on it.  In other words, shine a light.

So the establishment of Admissions Trading schemes has some appeal.  If focussed on carbon admissions I can imagine that the log book would quantify the timing and quality of farts.  My friend suggested it would also include guilty admissions like "caught the bus when I could have walked".  A whole department could be set up as an adjunct to the Tax Office requiring quarterly statements to be submitted.  A complex algorithm would be devised to work out how my low energy light bulbs and reusable shopping bags off-set your log fire and V8 car.  And it would all be based on honesty.  We would be compelled to admit.

So a broader application is appealing.  I admit all of my guilt.  So do you.  All the admissions get put in a big pot and they mingle.  Out come some more dirty secrets and a bit of carbon which goes on that other register.  The world would feel more open.  Somehow.

But still it's not enough.  Admissions of bad things would need to be balanced with admissions of good things, perhaps admissions to halls of fame.  So I would admit that I parked in the disabled parking spot and this would be offset by an admission to the country music hall of fame by a lifelong banjo player.  Now we're getting into a bit of yin and yang.  I'm seeing the spreadsheet that we would be required to fill in.  There would be several layers of reporting, from the macro level of a nation to the micro level of individual citizens.  It would be tremendously exciting.  Citizens could pool their admissions of guilt together and search for hall of famers to offset.  It would get people talking.  Awareness of the good things which people do in the community would come to the forefront of the collective consciousness.  Admission credits could only be purchased with hours of voluntary work.

It could be handy for the Arab spring nations.  Or for the US as they withdraw their troops from Iraq.  A great little reporting tool to assess governments as they put themselves for election again.

I can't imagine why no one has thought of this before.  A market solution to guilt!  Highly practical.

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