Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

June 29-July 13, 2005

Issue #78

  .....Buffalo's Best Fiend

Independence Day
3rd Party Politics for Fun & Profit

Pataki Leads Carge Against the Talentless
by Matt Taibbi
Last Best Chance
Dragging our Feet on Nuclear Terror
by Alex Zaitchik

Welcome to My Nightmare
Eminent Domain Ruling Leads to Gigantism in B-List Actors

by Ian Murphy


Say it Ain't Soda
Revoking the Bottle Deposit is an Asinine Idea

by Christofurious Riordan


Reid's United States of Europe
Book Review
by Paul Fallon


Just Kill Me
Recruiters are Dying to Talk to Your Kids
by Matt Taibbi


Litigious Idol
Help choose Barnes' new Cellino!


Dear Donny
Romantic Advice from the Secretary of Defense



The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime

Cover Page
Buffalo in Briefs
Page 3
Kino Korner - Movies
[sic] - Your Letters
The BEAST Blog


ISSUE#78 PDF FILE (right-click & "save target")


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Paul Tokasz is a Corporate Tool
By Christofurious Riordan

This story has been briefly discussed in most major daily newspapers, but they obfuscate the issue by beating around the bush and confusing us with irrelevant facts. Or maybe the mass media truly is corrupted by big business. At the very least, they are trying way too hard to be objective in a case where there is a clear wrong and a clear right.

Since I know the average Beast reader’s attention span makes waiting for a microwave dinner to cook seem like a grueling test of their patience, let me get to the money shot of this article right away so even the most uninitiated of you walks away with the basic point: THE GIANT CORPORATIONS ARE BUYING YOUR POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES AND PAYING THEM TO SCREW YOU OVER—AGAIN!

In the last episode of This American Lie, the villainous credit card companies spent over 300 million in one year to lobby (i.e. bribe) congress into approving the new bankruptcy laws which will save their evil industry roughly 85 million dollars a year while making it even more agonizing, expensive and difficult for a destitute family to file for protection under current laws. Now the pockets of our politicians are being lined with busy bucks from the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, who feel that preserving our environment is cutting just a little too deeply into their bloated profit margins.

In 1983, a progressive and eco-friendly bill was passed in the New York State Assembly that created the system of charging an extra nickel on every unit of carbonated beverage sold in our state. The consumer could get that nickel back if he or she was a good boy or girl and brought their bottle back to the store so it could get recycled. The system was a whopping success for everyone from street bums to the fishies and duckies who get to swim around in cleaner water. As an unforeseen side-effect of this remedy, though, the soda companies also started making millions of dollars a year in deposits on the containers that were not returned.

Amazingly, it took over  20 years for someone to say, “Hey! That’s not cool! The soda industry should turn that money over to recycling programs!” And they should. Keep in mind, the deposits (and those millions of dollars in unreturned bottles) only exist because of efforts to increase recycling. It is not the industry’s money – it belongs to the consumers, and if they don’t want to collect their nickel it should still go to government recycling programs and not private corporations.

So it was formally proposed that a new bill be passed, one that would force the soda companies to turn that undeserved money over and also expand the current system to include plastic and glass containers for things like water and juice and sports drinks - which weren’t a significant part of the market when the original bill was passed.

But as soon as the giant soda companies saw this proposed legislation generate some interest and momentum, they (or rather their agents in the Assembly) designed  a bill to counter that one. This one would allow them not only to keep those millions of undeserved dollars every year, but also do away with our deposit system altogether.

Why? Well, if you ask the president of a local Pepsi bottling operation, “The new laws (the one the soda companies endorse) would take unnecessary burdens off the consumer, who would have to go back to the store to return every package their groceries came in if the other bill was passed. Most people recycle at the curb where it is more convenient and efficient.”

Come on now, hardly anyone recycles everything they should and most people don’t recycle anything at all unless they can get some money for it. That is why the deposit system on our soda works so well – its driving mechanism is our greed, our hunger for that nickel. A study done in Onondaga County showed that 85 percent of refundable containers get recycled. And how many non-refundable containers get recycled? Survey says… 23 percent.

Now, keep in mind that not every county in New York state even has a curbside recycling program. To rely on that system is foolish when a better system is already in place. An informal study of a neighborhood’s garbage by the Chris Riordan Institute concluded that only 6 of the 15 households on my block, in a county that does have a curbside recycling program, had any blue bins of recyclables next to their trash. And the people that did recycle were mostly putting out newspapers and tin cans. All of the Snapple, Gatorade and water bottles were obviously thrown in with the rest of landfill-destined refuse.

You know, I’m used to Republicans doing the bidding of big business. That’s what they’re all about, basically. But now the Democrats are cashing in. Remember that list we printed of all the supposed “good guys” who supported that horrible bankruptcy bill? Well, they sold us out in DC and they will sell us out in Albany. It’s time to stop sitting back and hoping the people we elect to office will do right by us. Paul Tokasz is right over in Cheektowaga, and this is his proposal. Write and tell him you will not vote for him again if he doesn’t give it up.

Better yet, stop drinking soda, and take two minutes from your day to email Pepsi and Coca-Cola to let them know why you are doing it. Say you are on a soda strike until the bill they are backing is voted down. Hit them where it hurts; it’s the only way you can affect anything. The enamel on your yellow teeth will thank you for it at the very least. And who knows, maybe enough of us will put forth a minimal effort to show them we aren’t the sheep they think we are. It’s a long shot, but it’s a hell of a lot more rational than thinking our representatives will do the right thing.

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