Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Armed Citizen

Early one morning in March, a family in Fresno, California noticed a man carrying a soda bottle and pouring liquid outside the perimeter of their home.The homeowner grabbed his firearm and went outside to investigate. When he confronted the intruder, the stranger attempted to set the homeowner on fire by tossing what turned out to be gasoline from the bottle onto the armed citizen and flicking a lighter at him.The resident fired a shot at the assailant, who grabbed a board as a weapon.The homeowner fired a second shot, after which the troublemaker dropped the board and acquiesced to the resident, who held the man at gunpoint until police arrived. The suspect was arrested and charged with attempted arson, assault with a deadly weapon and trespassing. Apparently, this was not the first time that the mischief-maker had allegedly damaged the home; two previous incidents in February were what prompted the citizen to buy a gun for protection. (Fresnobee.com, Fresno, CA, 03/01/2017) 

In Indiana, a state conservation officer owes his life to an armed citizen. After receiving a call about a suspicious person, the officer approached a vehicle parked on the roadside. The vehicle's owner began to resist and fight the officer as he tried to arrest the loiterer. Noticing the disturbance, a nearby resident came to the officer's aid. She fired one shot, and hit the assailant in the torso. The officer, who suffered assault injuries, and the attacker were taken to the hospital, where the bad guy later died. The woman will not be charged. (The Enquirer, Rising Sun, IN, 02/22/2017)

Two people were sitting in a car in Venice, Illinois one morning after a Vietnam veteran had driven his friend home. Two thugs approached, one of whom pulled a gun in an attempted robbery. The veteran drew his own firearm and fired at both men, killing one. "Not only did he save himself, his friend and protect everyone around them, he may have saved another individual’s life if these people had continued to do this,” said Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons. (Belleville News-Democrat, Venice, IL, 02/04/20l7) 

A lover’s spat could have turned lethal if not for the efforts of an armed citizen. The ex-boyfriend of an employee came into the 39-year old’s workplace and began to harass the woman. The offender punched the woman several times before throwing her to the ground. A customer saw the commotion and helped. His intervention made the woman’s ex angry, and he attacked the armed citizen, trying to grab the man’s gun. The good Samaritan fired twice at the suspect, who was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. (Holland Sentinel, Holland, MI, 02/24/2017) 

A store manager got the drop on two alleged criminals in Dublin, Georgia. While the manager was going to his vehicle to retrieve something, two men in their early 20's approached from behind. Brandishing a gun, one of the men demanded that the manager give over his valuables and made him sit in the car. The armed citizen played along before retrieving a revolver and firing three shots in their direction, hitting one while the other ran away. Both men were eventually caught and charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault. (The Courier Herald, Dublin, 6a., 2/7/17) 

Sometimes, a warning is enough to deter a criminal attack. A taxi driver in Gates, New York used that tactic to defend against an irate passenger. After picking up a female passenger, the driver took the woman to four different locations before realizing the individual would not be able to pay. The driver threatened to call 911 when he noticed she had a weapon in her hands. "She had the ice pick and was coming toward me, so I started backing up and she kept coming," the driver told media. The woman attacked the car, damaging it, then came toward him. The driver warned her to stay away before drawing his concealed firearm. The woman paused and the driver hopped into his vehicle and drove away. The alleged assailant was later caught and charged by the police. ( l 3WHAM.com, Gates, N.Y., 01/09/2017) 

I would do whatever it takes to protect my business, my family and my customers,” said one store owner who did just that against two armed men. The small-business owner was working one night when two men with bandanas over their faces entered the shop, flashing firearms and demanding money. The store owner, who had seen their approach on the security camera, responded by pulling out his own pistol. He refused to hand over his money and instead fired two shots in their direction, causing both intruders to flee. (Yakima Herald-Republic, Yakima, WA, 02/22/2017)

Want even more stories?
Breitbart is providing 2nd Amendment stories. (Despite what Steve Bannon did to Breitbart, the 2nd amendment stories are still good).
The Blaze is providing 2nd Amendment stories.
Visit The Armed Citizen blog for older stories (the blog seems abandoned).

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
A great personal account:  My Transformation From Anti-Gun Feminist To Armed Feminist
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

CCW Holders are an especially lawful group.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?
Firing a gun at another human being will never make your life better.  This is always true.  Police officers I've spoken with agree:  use of lethal force (even on the job) never makes things better.  It may save your life, and that is why self-defense is a right.  The loss of any human life is regrettable.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Trump has shocked me

Some time ago, I wrote about why President Trump has the potential to be the greatest U.S. president in living memory.  Don't misunderstand:  that was hard for me to write.  I do not like President Trump personally.  I did not vote for him.  I think he governs from a place of emotion without regard for consequence and I really wish someone would take his Twitter account, especially while Fox and Friends is airing.  However, he's doing really well with regard to policies.  I will have something to say about his tone and commentary after discussing the successes, so skip down if you don't care or are already aware of what's been accomplished.

President Trump has had a very successful first year, and you wouldn't know that by watching or listening to most of the media.  His policies, including the appointment of many solid, conservative/libertarian judges (not just Gorsuch, but many other justices in various courts, including eight new federal appeals court judges and four new U.S. District Court judges, more than those of the previous four presidents in their first years in office).

My company, along with many economic experts, had forecast an economic slowing in 2017.  It didn't materialize, and the economy is in good health by all accounts.  A Hill opinion column includes:
Some may argue that Trump is riding the economic wave of his predecessor: that’s not true because Trump’s strong governing style and firm hand overseas is helping Americans make income. The stock market is reaching an all-time high that is increasing the value of pension funds and investor’s wealth.

Since Trump became president, the stock market is at all-time record levels. The Dow has set record highs 70 times this year, rising 5,000 points in a year for the first time in history. Congress has passed a tax overhaul which cuts the corporate rate to 21 percent, has excited business owners and fueled stock market records. In addition, the US gross domestic product has grown by more than three percent for two quarters in a row. In October, consumer confidence rose to the highest level in 17 years.
Any expert will tell you that the Dow isn't a great indicator of overall market success and health, but other key indicators support what the Dow has been doing.  The economy is healthy and it doesn't appear to just be a bubble.

The cut to corporate tax rates makes the U.S. more competitive than we've been in many years and will also help all consumers.  Corporations may write checks to the treasury department, but they do not pay taxes.  Any tax is passed on to consumers in a price increase on the goods or services offered.  While the tax cut will probably not result in lower prices, it will prevent hikes to deal with increasing tax burden.  The surplus is being reinvested and given to employees and stockholders as bonuses and dividends.  In a huge announcement, Apple is taking advantage of the extra low tax rate for repatriation of money to the U.S. and top executive Tim Cook answered that they are bringing home more than planned because of the tax break, but declined to provide specifics about how much was already planned and how much was due to the tax break.  Still, the fact is more money is coming home.  Money invested in the U.S. economy by companies that know how to make and use money will mean more jobs and a more solid market.

ISIS is nearly gone.  Also from the above-linked column from The Hill:
Trump crushed ISIS, or Daesh. The Trump administration upped the operational tempo of the campaign against these terrorists by increasing the use of military power to defeat Daesh. Trump’s decision to give field commanders more decision-making authority quickened the pace of the campaign against Raqqa and other Daesh-held Levantine cities.

Trump said that the military has “knocked the hell” out of the ISIS, adding that the battlefield success is based on his decision to give commanders more latitude in fighting the terror group. American military power led the way thru Operation Inherent Resolve and working with other countries, including Russia, to stomp ISIS in to the ground.

Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the fall of ISIS was accelerated by “critical decisions” made by President Trump. Tillerson said: “In January, ISIS was actively plotting terrorist attacks against our allies and our homeland in Raqqa. Nine short months later, it is out of ISIS’s control due to critical decisions President Trump made to accelerate the campaign.” Clearly, the facts on the ground and Tillerson’s positive observations show Trump’s decision-making were correct. 
Remember what a huge problem ISIS was?  How frightening the cancer-like spread of their control in the Middle East was?  President Trump returned decision-making to the military.  The military, it turns out, knows how to destroy an enemy once politicians step out of its way.  Note that we haven't had an uptick in war crimes committed by our troops with military leaders calling the shots.  They're just getting the job done.

Finally, we're on a more solid path to energy independence than we've ever been.  That's tremendous.  It may eventually allow us to walk away from the Middle East entirely and let them sort out their own problems.

I can say I'm enthusiastic about the Administration's policies.  I'm not as happy with President Trump himself.  His crass, uninformed (other politicians have to correct his misstatements on Twitter and in meetings constantly) and childish emotional outbursts make the U.S. look ridiculous at home and abroad.  My big fear is that good, sound policies that make the country healthier will be tarnished and associated with this man-child's antics.  I think he is committed to governing from a conservative perspective, but much like the list of conservative judges he's using, the actual policies come from people who actually understand what they're doing and aren't just live tweeting responses to Fox and Friends.  He has vague ideas that are being more capably implemented by others who are more capable. 

It could be argued that that is what the president does:  he sets overarching policy and lets others implement the details.  While that is fine, I'd really prefer a president who could get these things done without sounding like a petulant teenager with an anonymous Twitter account.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Armed Citizen

A driver passing through Tonopah, Arizona saved a state trooper's life after a harrowing incident.  Just before sunrise, the trooper had stopped to investigate an accident. After discovering a flipped vehicle, the officer went to set out flares to warn other motorists.  The driver of the overturned car opened fire on the officer and struck him, prompting the officer to attempt to subdue the man. A passing motorist and concealed-carry holder saw the attack and stopped, asking the officer if he needed help.  After the officer said,”yes,” the armed citizen went to his vehicle and retrieved his firearm, warning the trooper’s attacker to stop. The man did not, so the good Samaritan shot him once, wounding him. While the passerby was tending to the trooper’s injuries, the assailant attacked a second time. The armed citizen shot the man again, this time killing him. Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Capt. Damon Cecil said the motorist saved the trooper's life. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, AZ., 1/17/2017)

Two Montana miscreants were no match for an armed homeowner during an attempted burglary. Although the intruders targeted an empty cabin in Wolf Creek, Montana, the residents came back while the bad guys were ransacking the home. The couple thought something might be amiss when they spotted an unfamiliar SUV parked outside their cabin. As the couple approached the abode, the two burglars exited the cabin and accosted the homeowners. One of the two assailants pulled a firearm and attempted to shoot it, but the gun misfired.While he attempted to chamber another round, his accomplice approached the homeowner in a threatening manner with a firearm, but the armed citizen drew his concealed handgun and shot the approaching scoundrel in the leg. The residents were unharmed, and police later arrested the two suspects. (Independent Record, Helena, MT, 12/30/2016) 

Uber has a policy barring firearms, but a Florida driver and his fare are alive today because the driver didn’t follow the rules. The ride-sharing employee was taking a client to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international Airport when a minivan suddenly cut him off in traffic on a busy street.  A man then exited the driver’s side of the van with two handguns drawn and attempted to rob those in the car.  Instead of getting any money, the gunman got shot. The Uber driver drew his concealed firearm and exchanged fire with the assailant. The attacker, who was shot multiple times, died on the scene, and his accomplice drove the van away. (Miami Herald, Miami, FL., 12/19/2017) 

WouId-be thieves picked the wrong victim when they targeted a gun store for a robbery in Mableton, Georgia. The owner was minding the shop when two armed thugs burst through the doors in broad daylight and held the man at gunpoint. One of the robbers shouted at him, ”Get down on the floor or I’ll kill you,” the merchant recalled, adding that they then shot at him. With his life and the lives of his employee and two customers in danger, the business owner pulled out a firearm and fatally shot one of the robbers.  He then fired at the second man, who fled the store.  Authorities said the business owner lawfully acted in self-defense. (11alive.com, Atlanta, GA, 01/10/2017) [Editors note:  At every gun store and range I've ever been to the employees were visibly armed.  I can not imagine what a robber is thinking trying to commit a crime in a gun store.]

Paternal love knows no bounds.  Even after being shot twice himself, a Frankford, Pennsylvania father of four defended his family during a home invasion. After hearing a knock on the door to his home late one night, the homeowner answered only to have the person on the porch force his way inside. The resident’s wife barricaded herself and the couple’s four daughters in an upstairs room during the altercation. The intruder shot, hitting the victim twice, but the armed citizen retrieved a firearm and fired back, with the bullet fatally striking his attacker in the head. The robber was declared dead at the scene. The injured protector was taken to the hospital where he was listed in serious condition. (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, 01/4/2017) 

Attackers come in all forms, both human and animal. A 17-year-old boy in Lignum,Virginia was at home looking after his nieces and nephews when he heard noises outside that alarmed him. Concerned for the safety of the children in his care, the boy grabbed his rifle and went to investigate. He saw what turned out to be a 545-pound feral boar tearing up the front yard.The boar saw the boy and charged at him.The boy fired in response.  "When he came up to me the way he did, I had no choice but to shoot him,” the teen told local media.  (Richmond.com, Richmond, VA, 01/27/2017)

Want even more stories?
Breitbart is providing 2nd Amendment stories. (Despite what Steve Bannon did to Breitbart, the 2nd amendment stories are still good).
The Blaze is providing 2nd Amendment stories.
Visit The Armed Citizen blog for older stories (the blog seems abandoned).

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
A great personal account:  My Transformation From Anti-Gun Feminist To Armed Feminist
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

CCW Holders are an especially lawful group.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?
Firing a gun at another human being will never make your life better.  This is always true.  Police officers I've spoken with agree:  use of lethal force (even on the job) never makes things better.  It may save your life, and that is why self-defense is a right.  The loss of any human life is regrettable.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Are there Craphole Countries?

There's a lot of fake outrage over the president calling Haiti and some African countries "craphole* countries."  Most of it is coming from people who routinely call conservative portions of the U.S., including the midwest "flyover" states "crapholes."

The fact that "craphole" is used by conservatives and liberals to mean "a place where I wouldn't want to live," or "a place where conditions are pretty bad," regarding Caucasian areas of the U.S.  means something simple.  It may be hateful terminology, but it isn't racist.  In fact, Haiti and the African nations indicated are not monoracial.  They're countries, not races.  So, we can drop the racist drivel right now.  Donald Trump may harbor racist sentiments, and that is unsavory.  This comment didn't overtly reflect that, however, and claiming it did is intellectually dishonest.

Speaking of intellectual honesty, let's admit something:  some countries are really crappy places to live.  It is not the fault of most of the people who live there.  It's most often a result of poor governance.  This is demonstrable in the case of the island of Hispaniola.  For those who weren't aware, there are two political states (nations) that share the island of Hispaniola.  Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island.  The Dominican Republic does far better economically.  Part of that is geographic and a lot of it is due to governance.
In 1960 the two countries were equally impoverished. The Dominican Republic pulled ahead in part because it was luckier in its dictators. Rafael Trujillo, who ruled for 31 years until 1961, was a brute but at least encouraged the development of industry. What came after was a sham democracy, backed by the United States, but it did allow for the development of political parties. The Duvalier dynasty, which governed Haiti from 1957 to 1986, stifled enterprise, in part because it mistrusted mulattos, who dominated business.

The post-Trujillo Dominican Republic has acquired a reputation as a Caribbean powerhouse. Its economy is the largest in the region; its growth rate of 7% in the past two years has been the fastest in the Americas. “Tourism is looking bright; remittances are quite robust; foreign investment is through the roof,” says Franco Uccelli, JPMorgan’s chief economist for the country.  (Source:  The Economist)
Bad governance leads to  undesirable living conditions.  That's what we mean by "craphole."  If you don't like Republicans, you're likely to think states governed by them are crapholes.  If you don't like Democrats, you're likely to think states governed by them are crapholes.  From your perspective, you're correct.   You'd find living there a craphole situation.

Even U.S. states aren't immune to this.  In California, we've been experiencing a net outflow of domestic migrants.  The poor can't afford to live here.  Conservatives no longer want to.  Many of us are looking for a good way out, especially those of us with families who don't feel welcome because our aspirations simply don't match the goals of our state government.**

For some countries, this feeling of living in an undesirable circumstance is near universal.  Those are politely described as countries with poor living conditions.  Although vulgar, the label "craphole" fits according to the citizens of that nation.  That is why they want to leave in larger numbers than in countries where the feeling of living in undesirable conditions is not universal.  You know, places like much of Europe, Canada and the U.S.  Places where there's pretty good governance, especially compared to much of Africa, much of central and South America and Haiti or Cuba.

Here's the noncontroversial part of all this:  The president should not have said what he said.  It is incumbent upon the president to be more respectful of other nations in his phrasing, even in a "closed door" meeting.  Mr. Trump needs to shed his bombastic and often inflammatory style when discussing international matters.  Our president must be restrained and polite at least when discussing such things.

Edit:  This post is worth a read.  I'm not sure if I agree with the title, but it is eye-opening.  For the interested, "What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump Is Right."  Seriously, whether you agree or not, this is worth a read.

*Note that the president used a stronger form of the word "crap."  While this blog is intended for adults and will address adult topics, I would also like it to be family friendly.

**Interested in this topic?  Here are more stories on it:
Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies (The Mercury News, April 24, 2017)
"...California leaders have other things on their minds that do not include accommodating the aspirations of residents who refuse to abandon suburban homes, or who are unwilling to desert their cars for the pleasures of mass transit. Until Californians demand a government that reflects their aspirations, too many people will continue to have to seek their futures elsewhere, to the detriment to those who remain behind."

16 Reasons People Are Leaving California By the Millions (Charisma News, 03/09/2017)  Note:  I was specifically looking for if religious people are leaving California, as the LDS population in the Sacramento area seems to be declining.  This is definitely an opinion piece, but it also shares some solid facts.

"I'm done": Fed up with California, some conservatives look to Texas (LA Times, 07/20/2017)
Honestly, I'm sure the majority in California (liberals) are cheering this.  They don't want conservatives and libertarians here.  The feeling is mutual.  We don't want to be here.  If I didn't have family, a good job and property in California I would leave today.  I'll still leave eventually.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Decriminalizing Marijuana

I saw an article today by Billy Hallowell titled, "Marijuana Use Isn’t Moral. Neither is Normalizing It."

Beginning much as he did, let me lay my cards on the table:  Marijuana use is a poor life choice.  Regular users tend not to get much done.  Oddly enough, South Park probably provided the most solid commentary on it I've read (I've never actually watched South Park) in popular culture:  
“Well, Stan, the truth is marijuana probably isn’t gonna make you kill people, and it most likely isn’t gonna fund terrorism, but, well son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored, and it’s when you’re bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or being creative. If you smoke pot you may grow up to find out that you aren’t good at anything.”
Hallowell thinks we should fine people for having marijuana, but not jail anyone--he likens the solution to being like speeding.

I think he's wrong in his assumptions, particularly this one:  "Sadly, people don’t seem interested in a rational approach, specifically those who want to see the drug legalized. These activists have convinced a number of U.S. states to legalize the drug and to, in turn, send a message to kids and adults, alike, that it’s suddenly a viable substance worthy of being green-lit."

I don't use the government as my moral compass.  I'm not sure anyone is dumb enough to do that.  I don't consider alcohol or tobacco use moral, either and both of those are "green-lit" by the government.  I don't need the government's help to realize use of these substances is a poor life choice.  For example, we're just coming to understand the link between alcohol and cancer.

When medical marijuana became legal in California, I don't know anyone who decided "Hey, it's legal, I'm going to go try it on my elbow pain!"  People who had been using it illegally now had a way to use it legally.  One would be hard-pressed to find an individual old enough to buy recreational pot who wasn't already aware of what it is, what it does and whether they were interested in trying it and continuing to use it.

Much like with the prohibition of alcohol, there's an inescapable conclusion regarding the ban on marijuana:  the dangers of the drug do not merit the blood spilled or money spent enforcing it. 

What's more, legalizing marijuana takes the profit out of it, and that is good for everyone. 
The data behind the first four years of legal pot sales, with drops in retail prices and an increase in well-funded cannabis growing operations, shows a market that increasingly favors big businesses with deep pockets. As legal weed keeps expanding, pot prices are likely to continue to decline, making the odds of running a profitable small pot farm even longer.

Washington offers a cautionary tale for would-be pot producers. The state’s marijuana market, for which detailed information is available to the public, has faced consistent declines in prices, production consolidated in larger farms and a competitive marketplace that has forced cannabis processors to shell out for sophisticated technology to create brand new ways to get high.

“A lot of people (in Washington) are surprised, and a lot of people are in denial about the price dropping,” said Steven Davenport, a researcher with the RAND Corporation. “The average price per gram in Washington is about $8, and it’s not clear where the floor is going to be.”
When marijuana becomes like any other crop, cheap and plentiful, then we'll see safety benefits.  Right now in California national forests, illegal pot farms (often run by illegal immigrants sent here by drug cartels) are making it dangerous for lawful citizens to hike, camp, fish or pursue other legal recreational activities.  Teams of police trying to combat the problem can't keep up.
Growers have followed, detained, threatened, pursued, and shot at officers and civilians, including scientists and field techs. One Forest Service biologist who stumbled upon a grow site in Sequoia National Forest was chased for close to an hour by armed growers. When he briefly lost radio contact, his supervisors feared he had been captured or was dead, but he made it out safely. In a single week in the summer of 2016, two K9 dogs were stabbed while apprehending suspects at trespass grows. (Both survived and have returned to work.)

“I’m worried about my family going hiking and running across one of these, or my friends,” Hendrickson says. Gabriel looks up from counting empty bags of fertilizer. “I’ve hiked and snowmobiled through this drainage,” he says. “We’ve done spotted owl surveys here, too. There’s a nest right over there.”
As if this weren't enough, these grow operations dump tremendous amounts of chemicals into California waterways to fertilize the marijuana plants. 
“It’s a massive problem,” says Craig Thompson, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. “People don’t tend to grasp the industrial scale of what’s going on. There are thousands of these sites in places the public thinks are pristine, with obscene amounts of chemicals at each one. Each one is a little environmental disaster.” Thompson also studies fishers in the Sierras, and he is one of the few scientists besides Gabriel who studies the problem firsthand. “I can stand at the intersection of two forest roads and generally know of three or four pot gardens within a quarter or half a mile.”

Gabriel and Thompson fear the poisons could spread far beyond each grow site and contaminate the water supply of towns and cities far downstream. The toxicants can leach into the soil and linger for years. Using water monitors, Gabriel has already found organophosphates—nerve agents used to make insecticides and certain types of chemical weapons—several hundred meters downhill from grow sites. “We know it’s happening, we just don’t know the extent, and we don’t know what other chemicals are involved,” he says.
The only way to stop these grow operations is to take the profit out of it--to undercut them on a massive scale.  That's what decriminalization can do. 

In short, using marijuana is a poor life choice, but maintaining a ban simply isn't worth the damaging consequences to society, especially given that people determined to use it will continue to do so no matter what its legal status.  Decriminalizing marijuana means the rest of us are a little less likely to get shot or end up with organophosphates in our drinking water.  Further, we can use the tax revenue to fund anti-marijuana education, the same as we've quite effectively done with tobacco.

Monday, January 1, 2018

You can help save recycling

This post is pretty random, but it's an important one.  You can help save recycling.

The reading I did on this subject was because a friend was lamenting that we don't recycle as much as Europe.  The video posted on her Facebook page clearly indicated we need to charge a lot more per container for the deposit. 

I disagree with this vehemently because refund deposits are just a hidden tax.  Governments in the U.S. hope you won't recycle so they can keep that money.  Also, Europe does other things differently, like putting the responsibility for container reclamation on the manufacturer.  In short, higher deposits won't help much here.  I'd like to see deposits eliminated entirely.

There's still something you can do to help, and I didn't even know about it.  I found it in a USA Today article titled "Recycling is in trouble — and it might be your fault."

The big takeway is this:  Stop putting glass in your mixed recycling.  Where there is a refund value, keep it separate and turn it in yourself.  Or throw it in the garbage.  Just don't put it in your mixed recycling.
In most American cities, the glass bottle you toss in the recycling cart is essentially worthless, and if it breaks, the shards may make the paper in a mixed cart worthless as well.

"We work hard to keep glass in the system because it is an iconic recycled item," said Keefe Harrison, CEO of the Recycling Partnership, a non-profit committed to improving recycling programs nationwide. But "it has very minimal market value because it has to compete with sand," which is the raw material glass is made from. Some municipalities have simply stopped collecting glass in their curbside recycling programs. Santa Fe overhauled its recycling program this month and said it would no longer collect glass from households. Residents are being asked to take their glass to four drop-off centers around the city.

The Elkridge facility sorts a lot of glass, Mike Taylor said, but it "doesn't add value" to the waste stream. "You can't move it long distances without paying hefty freight rates," Taylor said, so "it’s a negative-value material for us at the processing facility by the time you separate it and then try to truck it three or four or five hundred miles to get it to a market.”
You should also not put in things that your local program can't handle, but the big thing to not recycle is glass, because if it breaks, it destroys other valuable recycling including the cardboard that actually has become valuable in large amounts (thanks, Amazon!).