David Knauer 
Member since Jan 6, 2008


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Recent Comments

Re: “Rainwater Collective

I find it extremely ironic that whereas a city can be extremely liberal and tolerant in so many respects, the enforcement of building codes in Berkeley as in many other cities is highly draconian and destructive. Who the heck is really harmed but Joe Schmoe if Joe Schmoe takes a bath with rainwater he collected, or if he trips on stairs he built that are too steep, or lives in a room that is 2 inches lower than the arbitrary mandatory ceiling height some arbitrary petty authority has set as the unbreakable rule, or if he has built his house in such a way that its roof will leak in 2 years? We need to decide who really owns a house, the homeowner or the city in which it sits. A person who owns a house should be able to do with it whatever wise or foolish thing they please, as long as it doesn't create a serious hazard for neighbors, such as a fire hazard. IN my view all that our complex building codes do, for the most part, is make it harder and much more expensive for anyone to own or even rent a residence. Just think: if we banished much of the safety overkill of building codes, people could easily build $10,000 homes for themselves, most anyone could own a house, and homelessness would be nearly unheard of. Some may point to Haiti and say that what you get without building codes is 150,000 dead in an earthquake instead of just 40 dead, but those Haitians would not have died in such vast numbers if they had lived in houses of sticks and grass instead of unreinforced concrete. MOre primitive structures would have served them better. Building codes are for the most part unnecessary and, as is the case with most laws, simply protect the privileged while pricing a vast number of people out of the ability to own or even rent a residence. Shame shame Berkeley that it's taken you all this time to allow a person to risk their lives bathing in rainwater.

Posted by David Knauer on 06/13/2010 at 12:06 AM

Re: “Recycling and Anxiety in Berkeley

I'm delighted that the Express has done a cover story on this problem, which is one of the many "quality of life" issues that can end up being more important to more people, for all that they are ignored by law enforcement, than the "big" crimes like robbery and car theft. Many people never experience being robbed. Anyone who is annoyed by recycling scavengers, is likely angered by this and similar issues on a weekly if not daily basis. I can appreciate both sides of this issue: the destitute who find that this is one of the few ways they can scrape together enough to survive, and the homeowners and residents who are tired of being awakened by scavengers yelling or singing at 3am as they push stolen shopping carts down the street and then trespass on private property to steal recyclables, which now apparently may cause homeowners and other residents to have to pay higher fees to make up for what is being stolen from them. I empathize with the injustice of making the "victims" of the crime, pay for the costs of the crime: eg the deficit to Waste Management caused by widespread "poaching" of recyclables. I see this issue as linked to many other quality of life issues such as aggressive panhandling and harrassment by "streetpersons" of neighbors and residents, as is currently experienced by Haight St residents in SF, the outrage that is felt by those who are assaulted or have their property vandalized by out of control nihilistic or bored youth who seem to think that hitting a random stranger in the face or on the head with a metal pipe is funny, or will somehow take away from their own sense of hopelessness. What connects all these issues is a liberal tolerance, beginning in compassion, which loses its ability to discriminate wisely, and ends up becoming a destructive tolerance of enabling dysfunctional and inappropriate or antisocial behavior. It's not okay for municipalities and law enforcement to sit idly by while petty thievery and nuisance behavior is perpetrated in the widespread manner that recycling scavenging has become. On the other hand, it's also not okay for nations, states or cities to sit idly by while people starve or sleep on sidewalks, unable to find a job or any way to make money other than stealing. Then too, it's not okay for people to run across the border and illegally enter this country, and then when they can't find work, to resort to theft or expect citizens to pay to support them through welfare or other handouts, or for people to become addicted to substances or irresponsible and unwilling to work and then to expect others to pay to support them. These are all real issues that need to be addressed wisely and effectively, rather than in the "let's solve it in a way that makes us feel warm and fuzzy and PC, but is totally ineffective" way that has been the case thus far. If we really want to, we can BOTH provide real job opportunites to marginalized people AND insist that marginalized people do not get to irresponsibly sit back on their behinds and collect welfare their whole lives or steal for a living. We can feed and provide shelter to the destitute WHILE requiring that they do some type of work to pay back for the aid that they receive. Destitute people need help, but simply giving people free handouts and aid without obligation that they do some work to PAY for what they receive, results in their widespread moral degradation and disempowerment. The very fact that so many people now feel it's okay to steal recyclables, shows the entitlement mentality and moral degradation that end up prevailing when far too many people have obtained far too many free handouts. A whole group of people have now utterly lost their moral compass because we've treated them like they aren't responsible to have one. Let's restore people's morality by starting to require more of them, and make sure that whenever we give people aid, we ask that they do something, even just picking up trash or cleaning up graffitti, in return to pay for it. This will enormously boost people's self-esteem.

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Posted by David Knauer on 06/12/2010 at 11:51 PM

Re: “Racial Tensions Boil Over at Berkeley High

We sit in the midst of a racial quagmire. Ostensibly we want "equality" for people of all races, but many of us support a system which says that people should actually be treated differently based upon skin color: we protest that there are "too many" black men in prison, implying that black men, unlike other people, should not be held accountable for their crimes. As with Sotomayor and the New Haven firefighters case, many believe that black men should be promoted above others, even when they do more poorly on the promotional test than all the others. In schools, places of employment and social settings, we deem it acceptable for blacks to use the "N-word", but we prohibit those of other skin colors to do so. If blacks do more poorly on academic tests, we blame "the racist system", and endlessly engage in a futile search to come up with some type of test that blacks will be able to do as well as others on. We have to ask ourselves, do we really want EQUALITY for all, when our actions and attitudes suggest that what we actually want is preferential treatment for blacks, and opportunities to severely punish white scapegoats.

Posted by David Knauer on 06/23/2009 at 9:05 AM

Re: “Coalition Seeks Oakland ID Card

Title should read, "Coalition seeks to undermine state and federal law"... and help people cheat the system and commit fraud because they are 'nice' people and as nice people they shouldn't be expected to have to follow laws. As long as people are "nice" and hardworking they should be allowed to: run across the border and claim to be citizens, commit fraud and obtain phony driver's licenses using the name of a dead person or by identity theft, demand their "right" to employment, health care, housing, welfare, and any other giveaway they can get, and undermining the economy by being willing to work for such low wages that American workers see their wages plummet and their jobs lost. Any police officer stopping any such "nice" and hardworking person should be recognized as the bully that he is and sued for police brutality. Large coalitions of police-hating persons in Oakland stand by, ready to protect the nice and secure their illegal and fraudulent actions and entitled attitudes.

Posted by David Knauer on 11/08/2008 at 8:05 PM

Re: “Stepped-Up Enforcement of Traffic Laws Chills Fruitvale

To use the term "undocumented immigrant" to describe an illegal alien is like calling a burglar an unexpected visitor. It's a term that is misrepresentational and dishonest. Illegal aliens for the most part are wonderful people who work hard, but they don't have the right to work in this country, or to live here, drive here, buy houses here, or all the other things that they are unfortunately being coached to claim as their "rights." There are lots of people who want to be US Citizens: I know one from South Africa who has applied and has a poor chance. Many apply and are refused. Should we feel more empathy for those who've figured out how to sneak in, con the system and get ahead of the long line of others wishing to become citizens? There's a virtue in being honest and having integrity, and nice people who ingenuously claim that they're suffering harrassment or the tearing apart of families by deportation when they are just finally being caught up in their dishonesty and fraud need a little more integrity. I don't believe in every law: some laws are unfair and SHOULD be ignored or defied. Maybe some feel that immigration laws are those type of laws, and that we should just open our borders and let in everyone who wants to come. THen you can say hello to the entire population of the Sudan, Haiti, Cuba, INdia, Mexico, Guatemala, and most African nations. If you really think anyone who wants to be here has a right to be here then start subdividing your house so that 30 to 50 more people can fit in, and start razing the state and national forests to make room for the two or three billion more who want to come here. As for me for many reasons, overpopulation problems high among them, I think we need immigration laws and police should be doing all they can to deport those who have broken those laws.

Posted by David Knauer on 11/08/2008 at 7:57 PM

Re: “Party 2 Nite. R U Going?

And we wonder why we have a crime problem in the Bay Area? Increasing reports of ratpack incidents where a group of youths assault a passing pedestrain for kicks, or knock someone over the head badly enough to leave him unconscious, then run away laughing, or groups of depraved kids ambling down the street throwing rocks through house windows, teenagers armed with guns commit armed robbery. Other teens kill people over what amounts to spare change or a wrong look or because someone didn't move fast enough as Anneli Rufus reports in the article "Rite in Front of my Face." Black thug kids call each other "Nigga", (Anneli's column reports one called himself a "Nigga Dawg") then whine about the racism of the white folks who they prey upon. This article on teen parties further suggests that these crime problems don't merely issue out of ghetto thugland, but are insidiously working their way into the fabric of our "nice" neighborhoods as misdirected teenyboppers try out the gangster style for size, and in a spell of mindless lassitude, check out how it feels to indulge in a bit of assault and larceny. Uninvited strangers descend in mobs upon a house free of grownups: parents return, find house wrecked or denuded, do they prosecute, or return to their more cozy somnolence? Schools too as other commentors point out are to blame, schools where it seems the adults in charge have long ago checked out of reality, and are asleep at the chalkboard or lectern, watching theft and battery go by, and by, and the scales are stiff upon their dull and sightless eyes. Criminal beginnings flourish in these inept environments, where everyone passes the buck but no one dares to set a limit or mete out a punishment. THe criminal justice system, full of murder and drug crimes, grinds its heavy iron wheels but cannot keep the pace to the number of young people pressing in from all sides, needing the direction that all the adults in their life have utterly failed to give them. Delighting in the resultant circus atmosphere, young thugs flaunt their freedom in a newfound limitless world where no longer do the old, stupid adult rules about punishments and consequences apply. Stymied by liberal thinking that innately suspects all authority, Oakland and Berkeley deprive themselves of the ability to mainfest any authority, and fester under a fire of rampaging crime and antisocial behavior while the fiddling goes on. Persons at the helm lack the will or the spine to do anything, anything at all, except sit back and congratulate themselves on how Politically Correct they are, while their town burns to the ground.

Posted by David Knauer on 01/06/2008 at 1:32 PM

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