Mr. Common Sense Strikes Again

Don Chapman
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February 28, 2007
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The state Legislature is one of those places where good intentions go to get twisted into bad ideas, and where responsibility gets shoved onto other people’s doorsteps.

Exhibit A is Senate Bill 1702, which would force stores that sell “HI-5” beverage containers to take back and redeem those containers.


To follow that illogic to its logical conclusion, stores that sell cigarettes should then be forced to take back the used butts - because there are way too many butts tossed on the ground. (Not to give politicians any more bad ideas.)

Herewith is my counter proposal to SB-1702, one requiring less government intervention in commerce, and based on a good deal more common sense:

If legislators believe that recycling is so important, they should take the lead. Show us some serious and true leadership, not dictatorship. Create a system in which recycling is easy and comes naturally - not just for beverage containers, but for mayo and pickle jars, soup and Spam cans, paper products and all of the plastic packaging that seems to come with everything we buy.

It should be curbside recycling, but could be neighborhood redemption centers.

And whatever the big plan, it should include public waste receptacles specifically for recyclable metals, plastics, paper.

There is no question that Hawaii lags far behind other states (and countries such as Korea and Japan) in government-sponsored recycling. I’ve heard visitors remark on how shocked they are that America’s most beautiful state seems so intent on burying itself under a mountain of trash - call it Mauna Opala. (There are always those who argue that just because the Mainland does something, Hawaii doesn’t need to follow. When the subject is recycling and preserving Hawaii’s beauty and quality of life, that argument is cockeyed at best.)

The state certainly has the money to institute real recycling programs - only about 70 percent of HI-5 containers are redeemed, meaning a profit of millions of dollars for the state. And the state has way more available land to build recycling centers than do the stores affected by this bill.

Also, if the half-thought-out program the Legislature originally instituted had been better designed - and performed better - this silly stopgap measure that reeks of punishment would not be necessary.

Although Mayor Hannemann cancelled the city’s planned curbside recycling program in 2005, a basic plan is in place. It’s time for the city and the state, for a change, to actually cooperate on something for the good of Hawaii, its aina and its people.


So I applaud the mayor for trying to restart curbside recycling - even if it means a $10 monthly fee. For what we and our descendants will be getting, that’s a bargain. And I urge City Council Chair Marshall - who represents my Kaneohe neighborhood and for whom I voted - to seriously reconsider her opposition to that plan. The people have spoken: We resoundingly approved a city charter on last November’s ballot mandating curbside recycling. If our politicians aren’t listening, well, I know who I’m not voting for next time.

And in light of the misguided SB-1702, I’m also calling on Gov. Lingle, Senate President Hanabusa and House Speaker Say to work with the counties to give us a sound and comprehensive statewide recycling program that does not place the greatest burden on any one segment of the population, but is inclusive of every home, condominium and business.

To paraphrase the classic line from Jerry Maguire, just show us the leadership ...

Otherwise: It’s unbelievable that the U.S. government is allowing Mexico to possibly extradite Dog Chapman. Cousin or no cousin, he took a serial rapist who intended to rape again off the street. Dog should be receiving grateful presidential citations from both countries, and the Mexican ambassador to Washington should be getting a message from the White House that his country really ought to find something better to do with its prosecutors’ time ...


I cannot see a way to extradite ourselves from Iraq without the help of Iran, as well as other regional neighbors. A recent Newsweek story reported that Iran was instrumental in forging the alliance that put the U.S.-backed Afghan government of Hamid Karzai in place, and that it pledged twice as much money to rebuild Afghanistan as the U.S. did. A week later, President Bush gave his infamous “Axis of Evil” speech, including Iran in a terrible trio with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Kim Jung-Il’s North Korea - a sharp slap in the face. Soon after, the Iranians amped up their nuke program. Meanwhile, Iranian diplomats continue to try to talk with the U.S., to no avail. In the real world, the Bush policy of not talking to people he doesn’t like is dangerously naive ...

BTW: I celebrated a birthday earlier this week. Someone asked if it was a “significant” birthday. You bet - at my age, they’re all significant ...

Another friend said: “I hate birthdays!” I say, they beat the heck out of the alternative! ...

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