Email Letters: August 29, 2017
The trash littering our community is an urgent problem
The debris littering our community is an urgent problem. Trash presents numerous public health and safety hazards, including but not limited to:
1) Crime. Trash and other debris is a direct cause for violent criminal activity – the “broken windows” theory.
2) Disease. Debris collects rain water, presenting opportunity for disease-spreading insects to breed; other debris festers disease: diapers, bottles and cans filled with urine or chew tobacco, for example, harbor dangerous bacteria that freely enter our canals and other open waters, are spread by insects, and are directly exposed to children and the public.
3) Pollution. Plastics, batteries, and other artificial materials break down with sunlight and precipitation into dangerous components that poison the land and water for hundreds of years.
4) Hazard. Some trash presents sharp edges that can cause damage and injury.
5) Ugliness. The debris is also unsightly.
The quantity of trash far exceeds any ability of the government or private individuals to clean. We must therefore:
A) Ban or tax plastic bags. Bags collect water, and become sources of disease – as well as are some of the most difficult debris to clean. They break down into pollutants in the presence of sunlight and precipitation. They are extremely unsightly.
B) Tax bottles and cans, for redemption. Redemption programs are effective in motivating litter cleanup. Bottles and cans collect rainwater, are used as depositories of chew tobacco, urine and other human waste that can cause disease, and are hazardous.
C) Strengthen and enforce litter regulations to hold landowners accountable for the accumulation of trash on their private property. Commercial lands especially are increasingly dangerous depositories of debris, where the drainage and winds result in trash accumulation. There is insufficient market incentive for these commercial landowners to reduce litter, and there are insufficient legal penalties to reform behavior.
Walcher epitomizes ideology that has captured economy, media, and civic mindedness
Generally, I pay little attention to Greg Walcher’s columns in the Sentinel’s Friday editions, as they mostly tend to conclude with the same takeaway: regulation is bad, and only the “invisible hand” that guides our economy can deliver solutions to our most pressing problems.
Perhaps because his topic on Aug. 25, climate catastrophe, is one close to my heart, I gave it a closer read than usual. And my takeaway is that Mr. Walcher, in his public expositions, epitomizes the ideology that has, over the past several decades, steadily and stealthily captured our economy, media, civic mindedness, and the Republican Party – and that is on course to edit democracy out of the U.S. Constitution in the not too distant future.
By now, some of the Sentinel’s more astute subscribers have already read Nancy MacLean’s deep dive into the above-noted conspiracy, “Democracy in Chains: The History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.” If not, I advise that you, including Mr. Walcher and the Sentinel’s editors, run at full speed to your nearest bookseller or library. Professor MacLean, a historian by discipline, has gifted us with a brilliant and meticulous piece of scholarship that, if luck is with us, might yet enable those of us who hold democracy in high regard to beat back the bogeyman that has invaded our hope for peace and prosperity, and our shared public spaces and social benefits.
As for Mr. Walcher’s prospects, however, I must hold a dim view. What tipped me off to his probable membership in this grand conspiracy to begin with was his near word-for-word use of the conspiracy’s disinformation campaign on climate change (which, itself, was lifted from the tobacco industry’s earlier success.) I fear he may have already drunk far too much Koch Kool-Aid to ever be rehabilitated into the community working our hearts out to restore the environment, public spaces and functions, and our own humanity to a fuller integrity.
Legalization of pot is not an entitlement to put other people at risk
The front-page story on Aug. 28 linking the rise of traffic fatalities to pot use is extremely alarming and should be disturbing to all citizens and politicians in Colorado. The highlights show that since pot has been legalized, its involvement in fatal crashes has increased 40 percent. In 2016 alone 71 of 155 (61 percent) of the survivors of fatal crashes tested positive and this does not include the possible condition of the fatalities themselves since the state does not require they be tested.
With all that data, the Colorado transportation and public safety officials say that this “does not definitively prove that the rise is linked to legalized marijuana” and the lobbying group for the cannabis industry cavalierly says this simply proves that “a larger number are consuming and at some point are driving a car.”
Legalization of pot use is not an entitlement to put other people at risk. I am sure that the increased tax revenue that the politicians drool over is of little comfort to those families of the severely injured, permanently handicapped, or deceased.
Perhaps it is time our politicians in Denver stop looking at the revenue they want to keep flowing and start putting the lives and welfare of all the citizens of Colorado first.