Sunday, October 14, 2007

Garbage In, Garbage Out

I just submitted a couple of comments on Liz Seymour's blog which are awaiting moderation. Here they are:

1. I am shocked and appalled by the comments of the woman who said the law is more important than feeding the hungry. I think it should be perfectly legal to salvage food (or anything else) from the trash. (In fact, it's a low-tech and immediate form of recycling!)

2. I think the almost everyone who disapproves of dumpster diving believe that food from dumpsters is probably either spoiled ("Why else would anybody throw it out? And if it wasn't spoiled before, it's been sitting there for days, just rotting.") or else contaminated -- almost as if it had been retrieved from a portable toilet. These facts may be wrong but given their (presumably mistaken) beliefs, their visceral reactions are perfectly appropriate. Have you tried explaining how/why the food is still fresh and sanitary? I think that will help eliminate, or at least reduce, people's reactions.

3. "Surely it’s not as parasitic as making a profit off of minimum wage workers, using up the world’s resources and leaving it to our children to pick up the tab..." I don't want to justify any of the other actions you mention, but I believe that employing and paying workers -- even at minimum wage -- is clearly productive, which is exactly the opposite of parasitic! After all, the alternative to employing them is leaving them unemployed, which means they would be getting *nothing* rather than something. Salvaging food doesn't harm those workers but it doesn't help them either. If you meant that employing people is good and you think it would be even better if they were paid more, that's not what you said or how it came across.

Hat Tip to Stephen "Freakonomics" Dubner's post "Anarchist Mom" by way of another post at City Comforts, whom I hope to convert to libertarianism /R/e/a/l/ /S/o/o/n/ /N/o/w/ Sooner Or Later.

Update: My comments have been posted!