Recycle This
Let's get recycling in this city ("Money for Nothing," Aug. 16) into perspective: 1) The state of California mandates recycling for the city; 2) Sunset Scavenger is not required to bid competitively for San Francisco's recycling contract; 3) The illegal scavengers are collecting 20 percent of the total recyclables (official haulers get $9 million per year and unofficial scavengers get over $2.3 million, for a total of $11.3 million per year. Scavengers therefore get over 20 percent); and 4) The residents of the city are paying on average about $200 per year for this program.

In other words, the law mandates that I must pay around $40 per year (20 percent of $200) to support people who are making a mockery of the system by stealing my garbage. What better proof does one need for coming to an understanding that the recycling system is broken?

If recycling was done on a competitive bid basis, then official haulers would probably be collecting at twilight. In that manner of collection, scavengers who operate under the cover of darkness would be put out of business. The cost of the program would decrease, and recyclers would make more money. Perhaps then the illegal scavengers could come out of their dark hiding places and find a real job working for the recyclers. They wouldn't even have to give up their day jobs.

Bruce S. Friedman
San Francisco

By now, the contributing factors to the premature death of Jerry Garcia -- excessive weight, diabetes, alcoholism, heroin addiction -- are well-known. Apparently, Paul Allen Musso ("Buff Garcia Rebuffed," Letters, Aug. 16) believes that there was another factor -- that Garcia was satirized in Smart Feller a month before he died. Uh-huh. If I ever need to have an autopsy performed on a loved one, I don't think I'll ask Musso to consult.

Even shakier than Musso's grasp of forensic science is his sense of perspective. Many have used Garcia's untimely passing to reflect on the joy that the Dead's music has brought to people over the years. Some have used it as an example of the tragic wastefulness of addiction. Musso uses it to bash a cartoon he doesn't like. And he calls Eggers and Leon "tasteless"? Astounding.

Steve Omlid
San Francisco

Shafer = Kojak
Gosh, what a courageous and iconoclastic guy that Jack Shafer is, denouncing the Unabomber ("Publish or Perish," Shafer, Aug. 9) and joining the cattle chorus of sycophantic journalists, publicity-hungry academics, and wannabe police snitches advising corporate America and its cops on how to foil the elusive anarchist. Shafer's comparison of the Unabomber to Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment wasn't at all laughable, pretentious, vapid, or absurd, and I agree with Shafer about what a bad guy the bomber must be to send capitalist exploiters on a one-way ticket to the bone yard. The thought of a timber industry lobbyist or PR man for Exxon being assassinated by terrorists brings tears to all our eyes. People who kill other people are bad, except when we vote for them. In a democracy, politically motivated murders should be the exclusive province of the state.

Shafer surmises the Unabomber is friendless, but a recent Chronicle article described admiration for the puckish FC among people as disparate as punk rockers in Berkeley and defense attorneys in San Francisco, and I've seen pro-Unabomber graffiti in the Mission, in the Financial District, and on the walls of bathrooms at S.F. State. Solitary he, she, or they may be, but friendless he is not.

Shafer's brand of long-distance imaginary psychoanalysis owes less to Dostoevski than it does to reruns of Kojak, in which evil terrorists are mowed down by virtuous police. Shafer wants to make fictional comparisons; OK, let's do it: In a corporate totalitarian police state, where life is characterized by long periods of stupefaction interrupted by brief periods of intense fear, a mysterious enemy of industrial civilization assassinates prominent corporate functionaries, taunts and outfoxes the most sophisticated police apparatus in history, and blackmails the paper of record of the ruling class into publishing a manifesto denouncing the despoliation of the planet and of human life by capitalist technology. This isn't the career of a Penguin Classics antihero, but something more akin to a Marvel Comics superhero: cunning, quixotic, and heroic -- like the fictional French bad guy Fantomas, with more Žlan and better politics.

Jack Mesrine
San Francisco

Towing the Line
Sorry, but your apologia for unlicensed drivers is not convincing ("Tow-talitarianism," Bay View, Aug. 9). Unlike Cathy Johnson, when my unlicensed friends ask to use my car (and they have), I just say no. Although it may be true that the majority of people affected by the San Francisco Traffic Offender Program (STOP) are poor but skilled drivers, I'd bet that in addition to being unlicensed, most of them are uninsured. In my opinion uninsured drivers are the second biggest vehicle-related problem in this city (after red-light runners). At a minimum, they cost me the premium on my uninsured motorist insurance. Finally, you pretty much ignored the problem of drunk drivers and other folks who've had their licenses lifted for good cause. As far as I'm concerned, STOP gets the green light.

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