Letters for July 18, 2013

Gold in them thar bills

Re “Trash talk” (Feature story, June 20):

Waste Management’s new “going green” plan means grabbing all the bucks they can. My wife and I are conscientious about recycling, but we can fit all bottles, cans, newspapers, etc., in the smallest new bin. But because we need a 96 gallon toter for yard waste, WM says we have to have, and pay for, the largest recycling bin. One size fits all at Waste Management, as long as it’s the most expensive.

Fred Hinners


This little piggy went to market without inspection

Re “A Market Solution to Food Problems” (The Liberty Belle, July 3):

Accountability in performance and quality of products and services is an easy concept. Standardization and recognition of performance level is also an easy concept. Even the simplest among us can recognize, as the columnist so compellingly observes: “We believe that without big government regulation, there is a higher risk of negative consequences when it comes to our food consumption.”

The reasons for this are nearly too obvious for words. Safety standards as they pertain to food address health consequences that are profound and immediate. Substandard processes in that area of endeavor would reach beyond the simple dictates of trading in non-perishable tangible commodities. Commerce involving ingestible materials understandably must answer, without compromise, to scientifically valid health guidelines. On that perfectly simple aspect of the marketplace, there is no acceptable substitute for enforcement of high standards.

The columnist made oblique reference to this point, in the rhetorical passage: “The question, then, is why does food get its own unique treatment, and why do even the most conservative people want its regulation? Is there an alternative to big government when it comes to food?”

Having directed our attention successfully to the unambiguous necessity for intense regulation, the columnist adds variety to a simple reminder of the obvious, by throwing in some recent lore about product ratings systems administered by those products’ own industries.

Specifically, “If we look to the voluntary certification and rating systems, then we can see the favorable business relationships and market interactions that occur as a result of their institution. For example, Home Depot gives preferential treatment (i.e. purchasing power) to wood products that have been sustainably harvested. Walmart, Game Stop and other major retailers won’t supply video games that have an AO (aged 18+) rating from the ESRB, which de-incentivizes the production of electronic entertainment that contains strong sexual content and strong violence. … Then the politics of food would be taken out of the equation because food companies could volunteer for their own labels of certification, and power would be put back in the hands of consumers and private food retailers instead of government.”

The columnist’s approach is to:

1: break away temporarily from the topic of health regulations, and to relate some brief stories about industry self-regulation in areas completely unrelated to food.

2: escort this thesis into the mix: “It could be argued that more successful regulation would occur without government intervention.”

3: magically transfer the magical thesis, across all boundaries of propriety and ethical limitations and common sense, and pronounce that—trumping all of these mere by-products of science and judicious reasoning—it is now magically applicable to the arena of health inspection and food safety.

Do you find it unlikely that anybody could be both that depraved and that shallow? Then make note of the strained and disjointed statement that had been tacked on, as if in summary of the prior collage of statements: “If we want to find the solution to our food problem, then perhaps it’s time that we abandoned the belief that more government control is the answer.”

Really and truly I am a fan of optimism. I could watch Tantalus and Sisyphus all day, but the time and place for blind optimism and experimentation is where and when those things do not directly entail lethal consequences. The lethal payoff from the decades of self-regulation in the building codes of Haiti alone should be sufficient example for anybody. A few other very good examples of public administration of high standards paying off would be …. well, recorded history.

One need not know or care what size of government the columnist would find ideal; a much more impactive query would be finding what size interweb the columnist has on her computer. Her collection of very sloppily conjoined sentences even included the claim: “Not much is known about the long-term effects of consuming food that contains GMOs.”

OK, just let that sink in, while you look up just how many different countries have banned them completely, and for what particular reasons.

Our esteemed author continues along, with the admission: “But there are other concerns to take into consideration such as the reduction of genetic diversity—which makes plants more susceptible to outside forces such as invasive species, drought and insects—and the over-use of pesticides and herbicides.”

I’m at a loss for sufficient fluency to adroitly summarize the lesson which Chanelle Bessette has so very clearly supplied to us, so I’ll leave that singular honor in the dominion of a paraphrase from a popular local columnist: “Perhaps it’s time that some of us abandoned the belief that shilling for Monsanto is the answer.”

flombaye krishnabob ellison


Yeah, come on, Hollywood

Re “The lowest Depp” (Film, July 11):

I love watching movies, so I read Bob Grimm’s film review every week. But, have you noticed the garbage lately? I’m not blaming Bob—he just calls them the way he sees them. It’s Hollywood that is at fault for giving us movies like The Internship, White House Down and now The Lone Ranger.

Yes, there are still a few good movies, like The Bling Ring. I loved that one, but Hollywood is not doing its best. I’m so glad that I have a nice collection of videos that I can watch anytime I like. Films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wizard of Oz, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Singin’ in the Rain, Young Frankenstein, Crocodile Dundee, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and From Russia with Love.

Come on, Hollywood, get with it!

Brad MacKenzie


The truth hurts

Re “The Awful Awful truth” (Arts&Culture, June 27):

Funny that the online commenting instructions say to “be nice.” Dennis Myers seems annoyed by his assignment to offer “an investigative look” at Awful Awfuls and wasn’t exactly nice about any of them. Really, Mr. Myers? Awful Awfuls don’t deserve all the fuss the “publicists” have stirred up? Do you think there is some sort of conspiracy? That Awful Awfuls have publicists? Awful Awfuls are an icon. They remain an icon because of what they are. People don’t show up day after day, decade after decade to eat them because they are bad. Yes, they differ from one restaurant to the next, but that seems to add to their mystery and appeal. And, no, they are not like other hamburgers—that’s why they are Awful Awfuls. Mr. Myers’ final comment recommending two non-Awful Awful establishments does not add to the investigative look. It’s just more whining. Also, why do we need three pictures of Mr. Myers in this article? I’d far prefer three pictures of the food he is complaining about.

Denise Brown