Archive for January, 2008

public policy that is “comprehensive”

Friday, January 4th, 2008

20070723: NPR has a segment about recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (variously PET, PETE, PETP OR PET-P). This is the plastic material of which fruit juice, soft-drink and water bottles are commonly made these days.

It is reported that the Boston “professional baseball” stadium contains no visible facilities to the the drinker in anticipation of the time after the bottle, its contents having been drunk, is empty. Beyond then the bottle may be perceived as only a burden to the hand that holds it.

The PET industry is begging, really. Please, they say, give us your old bottles. We will remake them and reuse them.

Suggestion is made that facilities should require only a moment’s reflection from the bottle tosser. Where to put the bottle? Oh, over there, in that nice clean recycling bin. This is the level of engagement we are to expect of fans of professional baseball, for example.

Otherwise they end up in the sanitary landfill. [sanitary + "public policy" see more at expensive]

For the person on the street, it may seem natural to have the direct supplier of the item in question (the bottle) simply be induced to accept it back.

The grocery lobby is strongly resisting. It costs them upwards of $20 thousand a year to maintain their redemption center. Plus it is “dirty”.

The parent of the bottle has rejected its own offspring. And the first accusations are of being “too expensive” and “dirty”. Whether viewed in Freudian terms, theological terms, the taxonomies of sense and subconscious employed by Madison Avenue, K Street or other market specialists, we can see that something is up. Public policy and public money are in play.

From the NPR piece, we learn that a “comprehensive” solution is sought and that yet another case for federalization of public policy has been made. This time it is being organized around the interests of bottlers and grocers.

While I do believe that specific bottling technologies and their concomitant supply chains are certainly of interest to society, at the same time I feel slighted that such issues are being put up on the list of social concerns priorities.

I consult my own list of problems wanting comprehensive solutions, and I find near the top such issues as health care. The health care issue begs for a comprehensive solution. When people are sick, for example, the society as a whole will accept the responsibility of seeing to it that they are cared for. That would be a comprehensive approach.

As for accountability in governance, we might say comprehensively that those who abuse our trust shall not continue in office.

Regarding the blood-sucking tax-sucking vampire of militarism, we might comprehensively come to understand that everyone wants a place under the sky for themselves and for the ones they love. People who spend their days preparing devices and plans in order to annihilate other people, are not doing anyone any favors. Not themselves, and not the rest of us. They are not nice people, not decent people, not good people, not friendly, not patriotic. In them all appearance of human goodness is illusion only. They are sham people. There are no excuses for them. That they should have such a strong hand in determining the fate of world culture speaks poorly about the rest of us. The predominant influence of the global military-industrial complex is a shame upon us all.

The fascist gene complex within human nature could use a comprehensive solution of some kind. No doubt our ability to form gangs and exploit those weaker than ourselves has contributed to our survival success. After all, we ourselves are them that’s left. At least to this point.

Yet we see ourselves so sweetly, and imagine that we can organize ourselves as a humane nation. Humane to ourselves and to others. But, easier said than done. Definite candidate for a comprehensive solution.

Whether we, as a nation, are up to comprehensively solving the problems of PET manufacturers so that the local convenience store patrons may continue to discard their plastic bottles on my lawn instead of returning those dirty, worthless items to the source of their distribution – this is a question that we, as a nation, may try to answer.

But let’s put that question down the list a way. Right now we should be occupied with more profound questions related to our national existence as a sane and humane society.

Breaking the Rules

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Rules, I have heard, are meant to be broken.

To be clear, I have puzzled over what the statement is supposed to mean. I do not take it to be any sort of equation, as it has overtones of paradox and/or contradiction. Obviously we are taught that rules are meant to be obeyed, or followed, or understood. That is why they are rules. Everyone knows that.

So why assert the opposite? It is one thing to say that exceptions occur. Or, even to say that exceptions prove the rule, the sound of which perhaps has a familiar ring to it. In fact, one may wonder whether the “meant to be broken” is simply a (really bad) translation of “exceptions prove”.

Regardless, we all break rules. There are exceptions, of course, but “leave sleeping dogs lie.”

Although we may speak highly of the role of rules in civilizing the human animal, most of us realize that rules imposed upon us by strangers had best make some sense to us ourselves, or there is eventually going to be some sort of trouble.

I would like to move along to something a little more concrete, like the rules that we all follow daily, to help make the world go around.

Rules of thumb, for example, considered as a storehouse of practical skills, convey much information about techniques and practices. Perhaps we find ourselves creating personal rules of thumb which we may have difficulty expressing clearly to others, yet use on a daily basis.

One of my rules of thumb is that personages, public or private, who organize activities that lead to the slaughter of large numbers of especially civilians – as a rule – are likely to be war criminals.

(No especial exceptions to this rule come quickly to mind.)

So then we would be faced with the issue of whether war criminality upsets our equilibrium. This is where the feeling I get when I use the “s” word (ie: should, as in “we should” be concerned; or “we should” do something about it) and suddenly I have been accused of daring to moralize. Hum.

This is why I am disappointed by so many standard issue Democratic politicians these days.

strangeness as clue?

Friday, January 4th, 2008

It is strange that many people might assume that the Taleban are Shia, when in fact they are Sunni. [wikipedia:Taliban]

Al Qaeda also is Sunni. [wikipedia: Al Qaeda]

Iran is Shia. [wikipedia: Iran]

In all of that strangeness it seems there might be clues.