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Recent Comments

Re: “Recycling and Anxiety in Berkeley

DisturbedSleep, it's actually pretty unlikely that the program would be any closer to self-supporting if they had to deal with a higher volume of materials, even if those materials had a higher rate of return. It's hard to tell for sure without knowing how the city's costs break down, but they do have to pay for transportation, sorting, and other variable costs that would go up if they had more material to deal with. The percentage loss would certainly go down if they collected more bottles, cans, etc. but the overall dollar amount would almost certainly go up. The "poachers" really are probably doing us all a favor -- except for the union workers whose jobs they're essentially stealing, and all the middle-men who make their money primarily on the volume of material they handle for the city... not to mention the citizens they intimidate, mess they leave behind, etc. I think there are plenty of valid reasons to be concerned with the actions of the people "poaching" the recyclables, but the cost to the city and/or homeowners shouldn't be one of them.

Posted by wclark on 06/17/2010 at 1:04 PM

Re: “Recycling and Anxiety in Berkeley

Umm.. given that the city is losing $4MM per year on its recycling program, I'm not so sure the poachers are causing any harm. I understand that some of the loss is due to fixed costs (you need to pay the same amount to drivers whether they're picking up half-empty bins or full ones) but certainly at least a portion of that $4MM is due to variable costs that are actually REDUCED as a result of the poachers. Even if only 25% of the costs ($1MM) are variable, a 20% reduction in the amount of material that needs to be picked up, sorted, transported to collection facilities, etc. would result in $200,000 in annual savings, which is more than the value of the materials -- which means the "poachers" would actually be saving the city $50,000 per year (assuming the $150,000 estimate is accurate.) Look at it this way: if the poachers collected 100% of the recyclable materials, then the city could eliminate the program entirely and save $4MM per year. Certainly there are other factors to consider like the impact on prices paid for recyclables as well as the (unknown) fixed costs, but it's entirely possible (and indeed somewhat likely) that the so-called "poachers" are actually reducing the city's losses. That angle should've been considered in the article.

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Posted by wclark on 06/16/2010 at 2:11 PM

Re: “Arizona's Law and Racial Profiling

Mr. Gammon, regarding the comments by Mistersister and your reply, you still seem to be a bit confused. The statistics actually argue in favor of there NOT being any racial profiling going on, because the arrest rates were nearly identical. If there were racial profiling going on, then the percentage of "false stops" should be higher (i.e. the arrest rate lower) for the non-whites. The fact that they're the same -- and that non-whites were stopped nine to ten times as often -- means that, contrary to what you wrote, blacks and Latinos ARE more likely to break the law. Given that these populations are smaller than the white population, those groups are probably even more than nine or ten times more likely to break the law, in fact. At least, according to the numbers in that study.

Posted by wclark on 05/25/2010 at 5:28 PM

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