Save the planet. Buy meat-offset credits

Because I am a fervent believer that the unrestrained free market has the best possible answers to all problems, I would like to propose to the Internets at large a solution to the problem of meat, and a way of reigning in the pork and cattle industries that have become nothing less than environmental disasters.

The industrial world has shown us the way. Carbon credits, in which over-polluting companies can buy what are essentially rights to pollute from companies that have cleaned up their act, are obviously turning around the entire global warming problem. Lickety-split, as they say. Thus, we simply need to apply this model to the agribusiness world, and we’re in good shape.

Here’s how it will work. All people on the planet will be given an appropriate level of meat consumption. Say, three-quarters of a pound a week. That’s three quarter pounders at McDonalds, more if you figure that not all that mashed-up stuff is actually meat anyway. Anybody who wants to consume more than that can go onto to and buy credits, and chow down to their heart’s content.

The credits themselves will come from people who can document that they’ve eaten less than the 3/4 lb per week. Veggies, tofu- and bean-lovers. The less meat you eat, the more money you’ve got in the bank.
Think of the advantages. It’s a perfect way to funnel developed-world funds to poverty-stricken, or even voluntarily vegetarian nations. Give every citizen in the world a account, and we can even skip some of those pesky foreign aid issues where development funds get diverted by (dare I say steak-loving) dictators and generals.

And for those of us bean-lovers who are living in say, Berlin, skimping on meat budgets so we can enjoy our palatial two-room apartments, well, let’s just say we won’t have to worry about the falling dollar anymore. We’ll be subsidized by the international brotherhood of the Fleisch.

Who’s with me? Anybody have Ban Ki-Moon’s email address?

(Thanks to Kean for the link to this NYT story, which is a good luck at the genuinely terrible state of industrial meat production and consumption in America)


  1. As much as I like this idea (and I do), a free market presupposes a population free to make its own decisions on how it spends its money and companies earning those dollars through innovation. By legislating the amount of meat a person can eat, you’d be mussing up that personal liberty a bit, no?

    Applying the principle of utility here, you’d likely be correct to say there is a universal good in curtailing the giant agribusinesses and factory farms that dominate the food industry. But is the good you’re talking about significant enough to merit legislation? I might say yes, but could you convince others?

  2. Though I detect some thick sarcasm in the first line, you’re actually pretty serious about this and, well, might just be onto something. I have to think about it some more.

    Zum Thema: check out this rilly kewl poster by a Stuttgart designer –>
    I think I’m gonna hafta get it.

  3. I’m in. The day this happens I will be a rich rich woman. Vegetarians, fattening the already fat of the earth by encouraging further demand for their product. There’s almost an agreeable symmetry there. Almost. Nice post dude.

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