Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mean and Green and Bad – On CA Recycling

To find a compelling argument against the environmentalist movement, one must look no further than the Californian Beverage Container Recycling Program.  Like Obama’s proposed Christmas tree tax, it’s an insignificant but also avaricious and ineffective measure to legislatively sway the behavior of the American citizen.

CRV (California Refund Value) is a tax on recyclable drinks that was instituted by George Deukmejian in 1986 and championed by Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzennager through his two terms.  In an effort to spur the practice of recycling in the already communist state of California (San Francisco has outlawed Happy Meals, Los Angeles wants to impose population control, plastic bags are banned in various places across the land, and Jerry Brown wants “the rich” to pay even more taxes so that pension recipients can continue to get checks for $250,000 from the government), the ecologically obsessed legislature allowed consumers to redeem this 5-10¢ fine by taking their bottles and cans to a recycling center.  So, while this CRV is technically a kind of sin tax on wasting resources, the consumer has a chance to cleanse himself through washing by John Connor the Baptist in the holy river of Replanet.  And you wonder why Michael Crichton called environmentalism a religion.

There are several arguments to be made against this frivolous program.  First of all, this toll is completely unconstitutional.  The government can only tax an individual when he acts, and CRV is clearly a tax on not recycling, or inactivity.  Like Obamacare and Romneycare before it, the CRV program merits condemnation primarily because it’s a gateway to a throng of other corrupt indirect taxes.  If the government can tax you for not recycling, they can also tax you for not planting a tree, which highly credible animated kiddie movies tell me are being hunted to extinction by evil capitalists to make luxurious garments we don’t need.

Secondly, this tax functions like a bevy of other liberal proposals which end up punishing the innocent for the wrongs of the guilty.  In the same way that liberals try to confiscate the weapons of innocent Americans for the crimes of a few mass-murdering madmen, the Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (let’s call it ReCal for short) penalizes those who recycle their materials at home for the perceived moral transgressions of those who don’t recycle at all.  Conservatives are also susceptible to faulty logic like this.  Instead of laying harsher sentences on those who abuse marijuana consumption and harm others, they ban the drug entirely as if it's responsible for the injustice, moving it to the controlled substances list.  But that’s an essay/debate case for another time…

Third, the program carries a huge price tag for California while bringing citizens no tangible benefit whatsoever.  The cost of the BCRP, enforced by the Department of Resource Recycling and Recovery, exceeds an estimated $1.05 billion (, almost 1% of California’s expenditures.  Further, this 5-10¢ incentive doesn’t even work, which is the fourth point.

ReCal is the one of the environmentalists’ most inefficient and time-costly ways to force their beliefs on others.  Most recycling centers have a total of 2 machines which can be accessed at any time.  An assistant usually accommodates a third customer.   Most often, the people currently using the machines have 5 or more massive black bags they’ve been hoarding for months, all of which they must empty before they leave the site.  Moreover, these people are excruciatingly slow, moving at a rate of 12 bottles/minute*.  Dividing 1200 bottles and cans** by 12 leads to the revelation that those at the front will be hogging the machines for well above 1 and a half hours.  Most people have other things to do, like work, besides standing in a line for an afternoon, so the machines are clearly not a viable option.  You have the alternate choice of waiting for an assistant to help you, but this only works from 9 to 4:30, and the employees usually take lunch breaks.  Oh, and you must account for the contingency that they’re not accepting glass, aluminum, or plastic.  Half the time, at least one of these materials will be rejected.  If you do manage to reach the assistant before the place closes, you’ll be given two options: weigh your recyclables and lose a substantial portion of your money or have the employee count 50 each of your booty and send you to the back of the line out of consideration of the other guests’ time.  For some reason, Californian logic concludes it’s reasonable to weigh 1000 of a customer’s bottles in a row, but unfair to count even a 100 bottles at a single time.  Anyway, the counting technique also fails at returning your money, because the employees frequently miscount by a quarter-dollar or more.  I know this because I take 5 minutes to carefully count my recyclables, distinguishing between 5 and 10 centers, before the employee consumes all of 2 minutes counting the same items, assuming them all to be 5 centers unless they’re well above 24 ounces.

Thus, it’s apparent that in recycling you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.  If you don’t, you never reclaim the countless nickels and dimes that the government has stolen from you for the luxury of drinking out of a container.  If you do, you will lose several hours of your life that could be better spent at a higher-paying job which actually produces income large enough to feed a family.

If I could formulate a single argument in favor of the BCRP, I’d say that it gives the homeless an avenue for generating income, but then ReCal would be little different from any other state-sponsored welfare system.  ReCal is like food stamps in that it redistributes money from those who work for their own lunches to those who expect the same meal for free.  For certain, many homeless people desire to find work so they can be independent and self-sustaining, but Beach Beer Can Collector is hardly the dream “career” they envision.

Liberals repeatedly make ambiguous calls for a separation of church and state; they should start by repealing the ineffective and useless laws that respect the church of environmentalism.

* This varies depending on the age and gender of the recycler.  Women usually take longer than men, depositing a bottle every 4-5 seconds.   Men are quicker, working at a rate of 1 bottle/3 seconds, sometimes 2 seconds if they’re experienced. Older people are generally much slower than everyone else, being retired and having no other business to accomplish on any given day.  These are all generalizations I’ve made from many hours spent at the center.

** This is a slight exaggeration to make the division simpler.  The average number of containers people recycle is probably closer to 1000, still an humongous quantity.

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