The international market in karma kredits has been divided this week by allegations that call into question the core principles of the industry. The market has grown substantially in recent years as rich people crippled with debilitating guilt over past misdemeanors seek to find the most cost effective means to clear their conscience and repair their karma record in the hope of accelerating their personal path to emancipation. The mechanism allows a miscreant to cancel out bad karma arising from a bad deed by purchasing a positive karma kredit of equal moral value. This is usually sourced from an individual who is prepared to be extra well-behaved on behalf of their erring benefactor.
The current scandal has arisen out of uncertainties in the monitoring and reporting system for the issuance of kredits. Although the concept appears straight forward at first, difficulties have arisen both in the comparison of value systems between nations – is a good deed in one culture considered of equal moral standing in another culture? – and in the fundamental question of whether these worthy kredit-earning deeds might in fact have happened anyway even without any kredit system, thereby debasing the system and having no material effect on the buyer’s karma record.
These issues have been raised by investigative religious groups who have always been deeply opposed to the system. A spokesman for the group KarmaWatch said “We can’t stand the way people think they can escape wrongdoing through this kind of mechanism. We all know that the world is slipping ever faster into an abyss of low moral standards and this kind of offsetting just won’t get people closer to spiritual emancipation. What we need are unequivocal behavioural improvements at home, not get-out-of-jail free cards”.
The UN body responsible for overseeing the world’s karma is under pressure to respond to the criticism. This panel of elected morality experts, known as the Karma Police (KP), has total authority over the karma market . The KP has recently been accused of being opaque and partial in its decision-making concerning what can be registered as a kind and good-hearted action. Furthermore, the panel is thought to be dealing with these monitoring and additionality issues simply by making the process so laborious that the trade in kredits will soon dry up of its own accord. Kamko, a leading company operating in this market, has hit out at the KP saying, “We trust these guys to judge on our moral actions but really you have to question their moral expertise in these matters”.
The complexity is set to increase as two new mechanisms are set to be introduced to the market. The first is a special market for groups identified as having a particularly low moral baseline, i.e. communities where criminal acts have become so frequent that they are now considered the norm. In these cases a system of “avoided miscreance” will be introduced whereby individuals can earn kredits simply by refraining from nasty deeds that would have come naturally to them, so avoiding the need to take any positive moral action at all. Even more innovative is a proposed form of multi-incarnation kredit development where karma from a number of good deeds can be bundled together. This can include deeds from any number of different lifetimes and animal incarnations at different stages of the path to emancipation. The companies responsible for vetting these projects have voiced concern about liability in these cases. Who can be sure that the good deeds of a centipede or an elephant can be correctly equated to the deeds of the human in question?
No quick answers are foreseen and the UN is expected to maintain its haughty moral high ground whilst continuing to discuss the issues at great length, even as the KP enters its second phase.