How Chicken Little Raked In Millions of Dollars

December 16, 2011

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Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, Chicken Little realized the bank account was running a bit low. He had just left government work with assets of only $2 million. Hardly enough for a chicken of his vastly superior moral standing and towering intellect, who obviously deserved far, far more. So he set about changing that.

He ditched his wife of 40 years, since he wasn’t in politics anymore he didn’t have to keep up appearances. “Time for a party,” he said, grinning as he kicked the faithful, loyal mother of his children to the curb, giving her a house and some cash to ensure her silence. While getting a Thai massage at home, he thought about what he was going to do now.

Friends at Apple and Google from his days in government helped him get sweetheart investment deals which fattened his bank account, but it still wasn’t enough.

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"Eureka! The Sky Is Falling -- No: The Earth Is Warming!"
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“I’ve got it,” he said one day, jumping up, which startled the Thai masseuse and almost caused Chicken grievous bodily harm. “People are gullible enough to believe almost anything if it’s larded with a few ‘scientific’ buzzwords and charts. I bet I can gin up enough fear and panic about the earth getting warmer so they’ll buy my solution to the problem!”

He started by jetting around the country on massively carbon-emitting flights to give talks at a minimum of $100,000 a pop, driving to appearances in SUVs and causing thousands of people to get in their SUVs and drive to hear him speak. “We need to reduce our carbon emissions!” he thundered to adoring audiences in upper East Side penthouses and Westchester County, in Grosse Pointe and Fairfield County, along Nob Hill and reclining in Martha’s Vineyard, in Mailbu and along Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Limousines, BMW and Mercedes SUVs jammed his appearances. College students cried with joy when Chicken Little deigned to appear for less than his usual six-figure fee. Hey, any publicity was good publicity, as far as Chicken Little was concerned. Besides, college students could be expected to volunteer to do the boring scutwork to further his aims.

Chicken Little looked out on the throngs of applauding, adoring crowds, raised his arms, pronounced a gentle benediction and smiled. These were his people, they had voted for him dutifully for years and were willing to follow him anywhere. And, he hoped, invest where he told them.

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Hollywoodization. Like Californication, Only More Profitable.
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In short order Chicken produced a movie cherrypicking a few facts out of context, giving new meaning to the word “Hollywoodization” and omitting oceans of scientific research to prove that if humanity did not immediately curb their carbon emissions, the planet would be uninhabitable! Even worse, the polar bear population would decrease!

He produced a book printed on 100% recycled paper on global warming, “donating” the royalties to “nonprofit” alliances he controlled, dedicated to encouraging people to be afraid of all the carbon they were emitting.

The answer, Chicken said, was to buy something called “carbon offsets.” This was something Chicken had spent a lot of time trying to find a way to present it to people with IQs over room temperature, with a straight face.

“The way it works,” he said to his bathroom mirror while shaving, “is that there needs to be an overall decrease of carbon emissions in the world.” He paused knowing his audience would be nodding knowingly.

“Now, we don’t expect you, of course, to actually engage in any activity that would crimp your high-consumption lifestyles,” he said to the mirror. Chicken knew his audience well, they were the kind of people who didn’t see any irony in organizing a rock concert attended by thousands, with all the tons of carbon emissions produced by the air travel and car travel involved on everybody’s part, to “promote awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions.”

He put on his sincere face. “So we have developed a system called ‘cap and trade.’ The way this works, is every producer of carbon dioxide will have a limit on how much they can produce. And if they produce less than their limit, they can pass that production capacity on to someone else. Or, if they’ve overproduced, they can buy credits from someone who’s not using them.”

Then Chicken Little took a deep breath. This was always the hardest part. “And to facilitate this exchange, I have started an... an exchange... which will... charge fees to... to... help buyers and sellers... ow!”

He should know better than to try to make this sound like it made any sense for anybody except him while shaving, Chicken thought as he dabbed some toilet paper on his cut. After laughing out loud, he finished shaving and walked into the bedroom where the Thai masseuse awaited.

Honestly, he thought, as the masseuse worked her magic. How was he still getting away with this? Here he was, emitting prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide globetrotting to warn of the dangers of carbon dioxide emissions. He was buying coastal property while predicting that coastal properties would soon be underwater. And he was proposing a cap and trade regimen which he stood to reap tens of millions of dollars profit from, all based on hysteria he had whipped up for the purpose of making a ton of money selling a “solution” to.

Chicken Little lived in constant fear that someday people would sit down and think hm, let’s see... here’s a guy who runs around the world and produced books and movies telling people they have to cut carbon emissions, and who proposes, as the solution, a system whereby he charges fees for people buying and selling the right to emit carbon, and get his friends in government to make it a law.

He shook his head, marveling at the amazing luck of it all. In April 2009 he had appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to speak in favor of an energy and climate change bill proposing setting up a cap and trade system for major polluting industries -- and nobody, not ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, MSNBC, The HuffPo, Jon Stewart, nobody thought to point out that here we had a guy coming to promote a system he stood to reap untold riches from, and that maybe we shouldn’t take his opinion on the merits of cap and trade or the global warming problem at face value.

“Hey Chicken Little,” he imagined one of them saying, “aren’t you really just selling umbrellas while shouting ‘the sky is falling, the sky is falling’?”
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"The Sky Is Falling -- Buy Your Umbrellas Here!"
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In fact, Chicken remembered, when he was afraid that some reporters might start calling about the inaccuracies and outright falsities he’d put in his movie, and all the climate scientists who were debunking its claims, the phone did ring.

Nervous, he had pushed the Thai masseuse out of the way to answer the phone, rehearsing in his mind what he would say -- “I don’t comment on my enemies’ talking points” -- when he found out that instead of being called upon to explain why so much of his movie seemed to be total garbage, he was being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!

There was only one other time he was as relieved to get a phone call, and that was when he had been told that his movie was going to win an Oscar!

“Boy, if I knew what patron saint was in charge of this kind of luck I’d send up a prayer of thanks,” Chicken Little thought as he went out and got in the back seat of his SUV for his driver to take him to the airport for a flight in a private jet around the world to give a speech for $250,000  to warn more people on the dangers of how rampant corporate greed was causing unnecessary carbon emissions.

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The Sky Really Is Falling!
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When he landed, Chicken Little settled in the back of a huge gas-guzzling limousine to be whisked to his hotel penthouse suite for a quick Thai massage before the speech, for which the international glitterati, all anxious to appear concerned about carbon emissions, were jetting in from all points, with SUVs idling at the airport, waiting.

In his hotel he changed into a robe for his massage, and turned on his computer to check the news. Startled, he read the e-mail again.

No. It couldn’t be. The Chicago Climate Exchange had announced it would end carbon trading.

Chicken Little felt a bead of sweat run down his neck. Sure all the trading was going to be “voluntary,” that is, until he managed to convince the Democratic administration and Democratic Congress to make it “mandatory,” at which point he stood to profit billions of dollars. Estimates were that the carbon trading market could reach $500 billion if not $10 trillion, with Chicken Little raking off a hefty slice of the action.

“No,” Chicken muttered, growing more alarmed. After all, Barack Obama was a board member of the foundation that funded the exchange, he had reliable Democratic fat cat bankers Goldman Sachs involved as investors, once they got cap and trade passed millions of people were going to have their costs of hundreds of products and services raised to pay for the emissions that Chicken Little himself was going to bank the profits from.

Oh there had been some hiccups along the way -- that pesky Sarah Palin had raised some questions, but the media had done their work well demonizing her and the Tea Party that was starting to snoop around places Chicken Little preferred they not look into. Sure the exchange, the CCX, had been sold to the New York Stock Exchange-traded Intercontinental Exchange when it looked like it might not live up to expectations, but to close... all those billions of dollars, gone from Chicken Little’s pocket forever... oh no...

He rushed to the window, opened it and shouted “The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Really!”

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