The Carbon Bill of Rights

“Yes sir, how may I help you today?”

“Well, I want to buy a car. I spotted a little Toyota out on the lot, and it looks like it suits my needs.”

“Very well. You’re talking about the little green Fossil-RAV4?”

“Yes.”

“OK, let’s get the paperwork moving. Can I see your CN?”

“CN?”

“Yes. Certificate of Need.”

“I don’t have that. How do I get one?”

“Oh, you’re not aware of the new laws. OK. You have to go the the Ministry of Carbon. That is where they determine needs.”

“I never heard of such a thing. Where is it located?”

“It’s downtown, at the Federal Complex. You have to make an appointment. There’s quite a waiting list.”

Thus began my quest to own a car. I knew my parents had cars, and I still see a few from  the windows of the train that I ride to work on. So I took a ride down to the Federal Center. In Building 85 was the Ministry of Carbon. I was turned away, but was put on a list and told to wait for a slot. It took six weeks. When finally my day came, I was greeted by a young woman with hair tightly bunned up behind her head, wearing horned-rim glasses. She had a stern face, but I thought otherwise I had met the Cinemax Librarian. Her desk plate said “Lorita Genella, Need Specialist”

“Hi. I am here to obtain a CN. I hope you can help.”

“Yes, let’s get started.”

We did the due diligence, name, address, Federal Citizenship ID, Certificate of Domestic Birth, Employment Certification, Approval of Supervisor for Weekday Absence from Employment. I had all my paperwork.

“OK, let’s begin the justification process.”

“The what?”

“Justification. To own a motor vehicle, you must have just cause. Can you state your reason?”

“Well, I have relatives in Montana. I haven’t seen them in years. I have grandchildren I’ve never met. I’d like to travel there to see them.”

“You’re aware of the Family Process Laws?”

“No, I am not.”

“OK. This will be a short interview, I am afraid. Mere existence of family in a non-accessible location is not sufficient grounds for justification of carbon-based travel.”

“I don’t get to see them?”

“You possess a viewer screen and access to their identity code?”

“I have the screen. I don’t know their code.”

“You’ll have to go to Building 14. That’s where you access identity codes. You’ll have to bring your paperwork.”

“OK, I can do that. But let me ask you, why do I have to have permission to visit my family?”

“Footprints. Carbon footprints. We can’t allow people just to wander about and spewing carbon for non-approved purposes.”

“What kind of purpose would be approved?”

“Well, that’s not my bureau, but generally, it has to be related to government work, census, traffic monitoring, air quality supervision, atmospheric measurement. Food supply workers are sometimes allowed to drive trucks around growing fields. It’s a well-thought out system to preserve the planet.”

“I don’t do any of that stuff. I am an accountant. I work for a candy company.”

“Well, if I can offer some advice, I would suggest not to bother. You won’t get a CN. And even if you did, visiting your family in Montana would never pass trip justification criteria.”

“OK. But what if I buy an electric vehicle instead of a fossil?”

“Electricity doesn’t grow on trees.”

“It comes from solar and windmills. I studied my lessons in school.”

“Well, yes indeed. That is where electricity comes from.” (She is looking down at her papers.) “But we can only spend electricity if we have a CN.”

“I see. So owning an electric vehicle is out of the question?”

“Yes. Fossil and wind and sun, all the same. You have to justify yourself.”

“What about a bicycle?”

“We do not regulate bicycles. Owning a bicycle is part of the Carbon Bill of Rights.”

“Thank you for your time.”


“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face to rule it.” (H.L. Mencken)

19 thoughts on “The Carbon Bill of Rights

  1. Nice, myself, I expect algorithms, designed by them, sold as “KI”, to decide our mobility options. Owning a personal vehicle will be no option at all. This is already implemented with these sharing systems. So the “KI” will decide on every single trip, considering your social score too. The higher your score, the less you got to pedal on your rented electric bicycle.

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  2. It’s not climate change brought about by humans that’s so concerning. It IS concerning that humans destroy habitats, over-fish, over-kill, pollute with impunity, and generally are greedy with no regard for anyone else.

    And there doesn’t seem to be much to do about it.

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    1. I assume this is because of rich people. They apparently don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. That’s what living in a bubble will get you.

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    2. Problems can be separated into those that can be remedied and those not. There is no point in worry about climate, as it is beyond our control. Things like over-fishing, smog, habitat destruction, are within our control, and we are actually doing things. Alaska, as far as I can tell, is on top of the salmon runs, emissions now from coal-fired power plants consist of water and CO2. China’s cities look like hell, but much of that is from the Gobi Desert, and the rest of it is soot that can and should be cleaned up for their own sake. It does not harm us.

      Polar bear numbers in 1960 were down to about 5,000 – countries involved got together and outlawed trophy hunting, which is why that population is now between 28-33,000. We fixed that.

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  3. They have problems just like the rest of us. From my point of view, two attitudes develop with them: One, that they are entitled to things merely due to birth canal. Two, that they are smarter and brighter than regular people, again, due to BC. Those kinds of rich people (Prince Charles is one, Steve Forbes comes to mind) bother me.

    Other than that, I have known a lot of rich people in my time. A guy I knew who was a small timer in the oil business and had to attend parties and such of wealthy people told me one time that they were not fun, not for a second. He said that he had to leave the room so he could fart.

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  4. Dear Lord. You’ve done the exact opposite of what I said to do. Welp. Okie dokie then. Why should a man listen to a woman? Good job, Mark.

    Sure our rich rulers have our same problems. Poor things. All that lying and cheating and stealing is so hard on a person, I’m sure.

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  5. I just have to mention this shlocky new movie Vice, about Cheney as a Machiavellian power behind the scenes. It is “a hoot” as the kids say (or possibly don’t.) Such a steaming pile of idiocy, and yet, probably very plausible to millions of Americans (and they think WE’RE the nut balls.) Also quite amusing, written by an SNL alum and featuring mamy comic actors in dramatic roles. Which they play both straight at times, and as absurdist send-up and satire. Very, very strange movie, smart in some ways, completely sub-moronic in others. Listening to writer-director McKay, I think he may even be in earnest about the whole thing… The actors too. Sometimes the best propagandist is a sincere propagandist? Intel psy-ops and narratives take on a life of their own after they enter the public imagination, perhaps? Either way, one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen.

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    1. Christian Bale is like a shape-shifter. I might have to rent this movie based on your recommendation.

      Part of the mythology that almost all Americans believe down to their bones is that our elected officials are the source of real power, meaning that ultimately, voters run the show. Disabuse them of that notion and they would cease to have raison d’être. Did I use that pretentious French phrase properly?

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  6. It’s a qualified “recommendation”.. I was very annoyed by its idiocy even as it was hard to turn away, thinking “this is what people really believe.” Most movies don’t go this far into spelling out what “must have” been happening behind the scenes, if you take the news, and its intentional innuendo, seriously. And especially, they don’t use “real people.” Except in dry documentary form, or in much more restrained docudramas, I guess. Anyway, I’m sure you would get a kick out of it.

    And yes, the worst thing you could do is disabuse them of their illusions. Well maybe one thing worse… You could throw in a pretentious French phrase while doing so; THEN they might actually kick your ass for going to the trouble of enlightening them, lol.

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  7. Mark in late 1987 I was given a ticket for riding my bike through a stop sign and get this…riding a bike that wasn’t licensed. In college town Chico and a new student of Chico State. I was pulled over I guess would still be the term by old school metal police squad car in just waking up residential neighborhood hosting stop signs every corner for corn rows of houses from here to infinity twice. On my 22nd birthday. It gets better. The cop approaches me like I’d snatched his mother’s purse and knocked her up. They must’ve just bussed him in with no A/C from Alcatraz Island he looked that pissed and weathered. Demanded to know who the hell I thought I was cruising like some kid in college on his way to campus for class thinking he could disobey every stop sign at will while nothing else moved but the warm morning breeze to the music of early birds chirping. I told him I wasn’t aware I needed to stop but was ready to if a car appeared in my siteline left or right. He then bitch slapped my ear drums silly reading me the riot act without skipping a page and asked me again who the hell I thought I was disobeying the law. I couldn’t even remember where I was anymore let alone who I was. So I did the next best thing I thought and said well today is my birthday. I swear if you ever visit Chico you can still hear the echoes of the riot act being read to me again on special invisible bullhorn setting because the sheer vocal volume without electronic help was worthy of a Guiness record. You think I’m supposed to let you off running stop signs like a crazed college student late for class just because today is your birthday! Um no I just mentioned today happens to be my birthday is all. Who gives a shit I don’t care what today is there’s no reason running stop signs like you’re late to a very important doctor’s appointment is there! Um no sir. Now I see your bike doesn’t even have a license. You’re lucky I don’t throw your damn bike in the back of my trunk. But seeing today’s your birthday I’m going to cut you a break because I’m not about to be that big of an asshole! Yes sir thank you sir. Now try and enjoy the rest of today seeing it’s your birthday and all. Don’t let this put a damper on anything. But remember you only got X amount of days to march your ass straight to city hall pay your ticket get your bike licensed and bring proof down to the station to be signed off. Um yes sir. Now have a good day. The lady at city hall went cross eyed when I showed her the ticket saying it was the law but never ever and she did mean ever enforced. Same with running stop signs. Ever. For the rest of my time at Chico State I knew I was the only person in Chico with blue bike license sticker wrapped around my seat post. And the only one with a story lived just by me on my 22nd birthday one even Ripley wouldn’t believe that was destined to be lived in infamy.

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  8. Interesting. A bad cop having a bad day.

    We were in Tucson on the night before my BD in 2018, and were at Kitt peak observatory until midnight. That is late for us. Before we left I changed from shorts to long pants, leaving my wallet in my shorts. When I realized this my wife thought she should drive but I said no, I’ve not been pulled over in ten years. I was like a 30 mile drive back to Tucson, and there was a border check (even though it is inside the US), and I thought I was cooked, but the guy just waved us through, since we are white. In Tucson I was doing 48 in a 35, anxious to get to to our rental and bed. I got pulled over by a motorcycle cop, a young kid. I explain to him about my wallet, and give him registration and proof of insurance. He asks if if have been drinking, his major concern, and I said no. He did not question me on that, as I was stone sober and they have eyes and ears,

    He goes back to his motorcycle and does some checking, clean record, no wants or warrants. He comes back and says the fine for speeding is $248, and I will have to do a court appearance tomorrow for no driver’s license, and there will be another fine. Oh well, I think. And then he says “By the way, you can go, no ticket, no court appearance, and happy birthday.

    Good cop, having s nice day. Quite a difference between how they treat the young and the old, as it was my 68th birthday, not my 22nd.

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