Thursday, September 23, 2010

Busy, busy

I've been busy lately responding to things I have read. My responses, in my humble opinion, are pretty good. Below are the e-mail exchanges and the context inwhich they happened:
First, I read an article by a guy named Jeff Jacoby about the economics of recycling. I first stumbled on the article as a link on Cafe Hayek:

I decided to write to Mr. Jacoby:
"I've read the comments section after your article on recycling you ever hit a nerve with a lot of people.

Your point about the value of recycling was lost on them entirely.

Let me add two small factoids:

I lived in Cleveland when they first started mandatory recycling. Up until
then, the only real recycling was done at the aluminum can collection
machines scattered around town. You rarely saw an aluminum can laying
around because it represented cash to someone. Anyway, we had to separate
our recyclables into bags for three different types of materials, each
color coded to make them easy for the recycling company to identify.
Aluminum, as I recall, was blue. You could drive the streets of Cleveland
on trash day and find everyone's various colored recycling bags at the
curb...but hardly ever see a blue bag. Why? Because the early morning
trash pickers beat the recycling trucks to the aluminum. This caused such
a disruption in the recycler's cash flow plans that the City of Cleveland
had to pass an ordinance against anyone except the City's chosen recycling
company from taking the blue bags.
Implication: the only thing worth recycling was aluminum...and it was
already being recycled before the mandatory recycling scheme.

Second story:
I live in a suburb of St Louis. We have single stream recycling. My
family pays about $43 per quarter for the recycling service, and I estimate
that we produce about 400 pounds of recyclables during that time. That
comes to about $215 per ton. Hmmmm. Doesn't seem like such a good deal to
me. I wonder how many resources are consumed by those $215 worth of
expenses...versus the $40 to landfill a ton (or $8 for our 400 lbs of

Ron Johnson
Webster Groves, MO"

Mr Jacoby responded:

"<< Because the early morning trash pickers beat the recycling trucks to
the aluminum. >>

Funny you should mention that -- it is *precisely* the point I am going to
begin my second column with. In my neighborhood every week, a little old
Vietnamese lady goes through the trash, diligently removing all the
aluminum cans. I have no idea what she'll do with the big new bins, which
are as tall as she is.

I'm a transplanted Clevelander too -- grew up in South Euclid and
University Heights.

all the best,

Jeff Jacoby
Op-Ed Columnist
The Boston Globe"

Ahhhh. My new best friend.

I also responded to an invitation by the local Republican Party to view a movie about radical islam. I declined by writing:

"I will not be attending this showing. While I have not seen this particular movie, I have researched the subject sufficiently to no longer be concerned with radical muslims. They are no more a threat to our national security than is the KKK, which is not to say that they don't exist, just that they are of such marginal significance that the real danger is in overstating their power. In our fear of an impotent enemy, we have passed the Constitution-busting Patriot Act, damaged habeas corpus, initiated domestic spying on innocent Americans, passed the Real ID Act, passed the Military Commissions Act, excused torture, intiated two wars (maybe soon to be three), and have now introduced full body scanners at airports. All this in what used to be a free country. Our fear is our enemy, not radical muslims.

We need to be cognisant of our provocations that have helped to fuel the Jihad. Invading muslim countries that have not attacked us, propping up muslim dicators, overthrowing elected muslim governments, etc., has given the radical muslims legitimate cause celebre around which to chant their hate for America. If we followed the traditional Republican formula of NOT policing the world, we would remove from them the little traction they have in the muslim world, and virtually all traction in the West.

Now, more than ever, we need a non-interventionist foreign policy and we need to reject fear-mongering.

I can't see how this movie can possibly help in that regard.

Ron Johnson"

I was surprised, and pleased, to get the following response:

"You raise some valid points. I am only the messenger on this one. I was asked to forward the invitation from Gravois Township and did so. I know nothing about the content of the movie. It would be interesting to see if the issues you raised are mentioned in the movie or how the history of attacks have/when occurred. I believe we have mishandled several issues and I have concerns about those as well. I don't know who produced this film and I don't know if it only concerns incidents in the United States.

But thanks for letting me know and again, I was just asked to pass this along.


I think she likes me.

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