Have a Coke and a Frown: Another Win for Libertarian Robber Barons Eating the Planet

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Here is where this libertarian bullshit -- the propaganda foisted on us by Koch-brothers, Harold-Simmons-style polluter robber barons -- just makes suckers, fools and chumps out of us if we believe it. A story in today's New York Times reports that the top national park system official killed a plan to ban plastic water bottles from Grand Canyon National Park.

Park officials at the Grand Canyon were all set to ban the bottles, which make up 30 percent of the waste and trash they have to haul out of the canyon every day at great expense. But Ron Jarvis, the top federal parks official, canceled the decision at the last minute. Why? Because Coca-Cola got to him. Coke gives money to a private fund that helps the parks. Jarvis killed the ban after somebody from the fund called him.

The better proof of what happened, however, is in the slimy right-wing crap Coca-Cola has been handing out since its hand was revealed through Freedom of Information Act demands. A Coca-Cola spokesperson told the Times: "Banning anything is never the right answer. If you do that, you don't necessarily address the problem."

I disagree. I've always thought the ban on murder was a good idea, likewise the ban on child molestation. And I put the deliberate devastation of the planet for profit almost right up there. Maybe right up there. What do they mean, banning anything is never the right answer?

That's just stupid.

Thumbnail image for newcreek1.JPG
Photo by Dylan Hollingsworth
But then we also have the libertarian Koch-brothers-Rick-Perry-moron argument about personal freedom. The spokesman said a ban would be bad because "You're not allowing people to decide what they want to eat and drink and consume."

No. You're not allowing people to destroy the world just so Coke can make money.

This story struck home for me for at least a couple personal reasons. One, since the weather cooled I have been canoeing up White Rock and Rowlett creeks in Dallas and Garland, and, as always when I do this, I am struck by two things. The first is the profound beauty of these wonderful natural resources hidden in plain sight within the urban landscape. The second is the terrible despoiling of these places by damned plastic bottles.

You see it after a big rain. Snowdrifts of these bottles wash down from streets and shopping centers upstream into the creeks, then gather in huge plastic shoals where fallen trees catch them. You have to develop a special digging stroke with the paddle in order to get through.

The Coke spokesperson said the answer is recycling. That's just bullshit, and they know it. These bottles are made and priced to be thrown away, so even if people recycle some fraction of them, most people throw them away. Blame it on slobs, blame it on wind, blame it on whatever, but huge masses of these things wind up in the watershed.

Whatever value of convenience people get out of using them can't even come close to the destruction plastic water bottles cause to our natural landscape.

Second personal reason the story struck home: A few years ago I hiked down into the Grand Canyon with some friends, camped and hiked out the next day. It was, of course, otherworldly awesome. But.

On the way down and the way back up, the trail was almost crowded at times with hikers. We did enjoy some lonely isolated hours on the trail, but there were also times when it was more like waiting in line to buy a new iPhone.

In addition to people who had some idea what they were doing, there were people out there who definitely did not. They intended to walk to the bottom of the canyon and back out in one day carrying no water and wearing no hats. They were too old or too out of shape to walk steadily on a parking lot. I saw one guy in penny loafers.

The Park Service had personnel at a certain point on the trail culling the crowd. They would pick out the obvious downers and kind of pull them off the trail for a chat. I heard enough bits and pieces of these chats while passing by to get the drift.

They told them they couldn't make it. They didn't have the right stuff or the right clothing. They seemed to be having trouble walking, let alone climbing. And the big clincher: They were telling them that a helicopter evacuation would cost somebody $3,400 an hour and the somebody might be them. That turned a lot of them around.

People are idiots, and idiots cost money. There was a story in the Times last year about hikers in the Grand Canyon who pushed the button on a satellite rescue beacon calling in the helicopter rescue team. When the chopper got to them, they said they needed help because their water "tasted salty."

The Park Service should have charged them the $3,400, but somebody also should have put them in jail overnight. We have a right and a duty to protect ourselves and our shared public assets from irresponsibility and rapaciousness. If we could get the trash out of our creeks in this city, we would transform life itself in this city.

The Coke mouthpiece said: "You're not allowing people to decide what they want to eat and drink and consume." Bullshit. We're not allowing them to destroy this round dirt-ball we live on called Planet Earth. Is that really asking too much? Can we at least hold on to the planet? Or do the Koch brothers get that, too?

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Puzzled
Puzzled

Well, as an anti-Koch left-libertarian, I will attempt to sum up what you're saying:  Government is a bad steward of environmental preserves since it is very easily swayed by corporate money.  That is, this method of preservation turns out not to work so well (by your standards) because, as a monopoly, it's easy to pay it off.  That about right?

Paul
Paul

Only good mandates, "bans" are the ones you make. Why not ban human being from Earth, after all they all exhale your favorite, CO2? Maybe they'll start with you.

Deep_Blue_090
Deep_Blue_090

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Blue_Angel_23
Blue_Angel_23

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USN
USN

FACTS!  FACTS!  FACTS!

The stated reason for the ban on plastic bottles in Grand Canyon National Park is the cost of emptying the trash cans, NOT litter in the park.

The Koch brothers, Rick Perry, and Libertarians have absolutely nothing to do with Coca Cola company (who makes large contributions to national parks), having the ban on plastic bottles in the park overturned.

The photo in the article, of a polluted stream, was NOT of (or even near) Grand Canyon National Park. The picture is of a stream near Dallas Texas.

All of this talk of pollution caused by plastic bottles at the Grand Canyon is "smoke and mirrors" created by the author; NOT the actual reason for the plastic bottle ban, or cause and effect caused by plastic bottles at Grand Canyon National Park...

AnarcoCap3
AnarcoCap3

In what way do any of teh facts presentd, here, have to do with the Koch brothers?

Difdi
Difdi

Because if he's the Hero valiantly opposing The Vast Evil Conspiracy™ he gets a bigger ego boost than the guy who is against human, civil and constitutional rights simply because someone he dislikes is in favor of them.  Therefore, the Kochs are evil and Libertarians are Imperial Stormtroopers, not simply people who believe the government should be less capable of trampling on rights.

TregLoyden
TregLoyden

Let me ask you, do morally shrill and self-righteous arguments that come from the "right" win you over?   So those morally superior Pro-Lifers have addressed your heart & brain to the point that you suddenly see the light - er Right?    What makes you believe your arguments above will convince anyone?   Let me just say I have hiked the Grand Canyon from rim to rim to rim on many occasions.  Like most hikers, we carry plastic water bottles or hikers canteens. I have never once seen someone hiking with a Coke or Pepsi bottle.  And I am sure Coke knows its sales to hikers is well, quite low.  So Coke, a private contributor to the National Park, altruistically shared its two cents.  Banning things rarely work.  Perhaps you should reflect on the Drug War?   But I can tell you this, private business routinely have community "Clean-the-Trail" drives. We are overflowed with Volunteers.  Its a great social thing.  And the Grand Canyon is very very clean of plastic bottles.  Since you hate plastic bottles so much, it sounds like you should get off your butt and organize a "Clean-the-River" drive. And salty water taste in the desert is a good sign of bad water that can cause pulmonary problems if not sever dehydration from diarrhea.  Those hikers were wise to call in a rescue.  Try hiking the Grand Canyon and come enjoy my state.  We normally love Texans. 

USN
USN

WoW!Coca-Cola gets a ban against plastic bottles overturned, presumably with a threat to withhold charitable funds for parks; yet somehow Rick Perry, Libertarians, and the Koch brothers get the blame? How exactly is a stretch like that made?Lets keep the facts of the article straight folks; the stated issue is not littering. The stated issue is how much money it costs to empty the trash cans at the park.It seems to me there was a free will choice involved; we can stand on principal and tell coke they can keep their money so we can have a lower garbage collection bill, or we can continue to receive donations from coke and have a higher garbage collection bill...

Roberta X
Roberta X

Why blame Coke -- or even the Koch Brothers?  It's the idiots who just toss their trash wherever they happen to be that are the problem.

     If they don't leave plastic bottles, they'll leave used chewing gum, shoes (!), dead batteries (!!), condoms, etc.  Bottles don't slither off store shelves and end up bobbing in creeks by themselves, people carry them there.  (And you can darned sure bet the Kochs aren't doing any of that heavy lifting).

     Maybe more caning and less banning?

CaliReader
CaliReader

Nice attack on Libertarians!  The real problem here is that the government was bribed by Coca Cola.  In a true free market ZERO government favors exist.  Most Libertarians favor a free market.  The Koch brothers and Rick Perry are hardly representatives of real Libertarianism (google controlled opposition to understand how leaders mislead people).  I noticed that you offered no alternative to plastic bottles (which I don't use because of the BPA).  Your article would have been far more sound if you mentioned hemp and organic plastic replacements.  Do some research next time so you know what you are talking about!

RTGolden
RTGolden

It's difficult for Jim to smoke his hemp when it is full of water.

Allen Patterson
Allen Patterson

Rants like this one make me want to save my water and coke bottles, plus leftover shrinkwrap from four factories, for the sole purpose of dumping it into a park where it will choke sparrows, bluebirds and squirrels.  What the hell do the Koch brothers have to do with this? 

Difdi
Difdi

Some people are incapable of realizing that their political opponents are also rational human beings, just like them.  They can't conceive of any real person ever disagreeing with them.  So they demonize them, seeing them as faceless, monolithic entities. They don't see (for example) three unrelated groups that disagree with them for rational, common sense reasons.  Instead, they see a vast conspiracy of evil that is centrally controlled by a mastermind somewhere. Everyone sees themselves as the hero of their own comic book.  Some just have more imaginative writers.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Kind of like the common sense argument of putting water in canteens (which can be made out of a plastic bottle, placed in a plastic bag, and strung on a pack or slung over a shoulder) being responded to with the false choice argument of "What if someone wanders out into the desert without water"?

1836crockett
1836crockett

The fact that people just throw their $hit away has nothing to do with being a Libertarian.  It has everything to do with LACK OF MORALS GENERATED BY THIS SECULAR POPULATION AND NO ONE CARING ENOUGH TO ENFORCE THE LAW.

STEVE BONZAI
STEVE BONZAI

A LOT of states have ten cent deposits on cans and bottles. There are no cans or bottles on the roadside. It may inconvenience the average suburbanite but the poor make sure that junk is not left long.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

If Koch and Coke truly cared about the Grand Canyon they would follow the example set by our very own visionary city leaders and build a corporate-sponsored stringy-thing across the canyon, they could call it the Coke-trava Bridge. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Either Coke or Pepsi used to 'sponsor' the Royal Gorge in Colorado.  The last thing we want is for a major corporation to sponsor amazing natural sites.  The first time I went to Royal Gorge, it was amazing.  the rickety bridge, the terrifying (for an 8yr old) incline tram, and the absurd distance from bridge to river were just exactly what the area needed.  The second time, I couldn't see hardly anything through the miasma of corporate logo's, state flags of idiots who bungee'd off the bridge (a $400 price tag for this seems to have dampened the enthusiasm for that particular activity), and the scattering of 'amusements' for those who can't simply be in awe of natures wonder.

Bobby843
Bobby843

Wow, clearly you have no idea what libertarianism actually is.  I am amazed you can actually breathe.   Seriously, this has to be one of the most moronic and unintelligent screeds I have ever read.

Difdi
Difdi

It's human nature to hate a perceived enemy.  This is normal. It's also human nature to oppose the goals of a hated enemy.  Also normal. But problems arise when your hated enemy is in favor of basic human rights, civil rights and constitutional rights.  Suddenly, human nature means you become an enemy of human rights, simply because your enemy is in favor.  This is a psychological trap every political agenda falls into at one time or another.  Some seem to be more prone to it than others.

Wesley Hunter
Wesley Hunter

This article is worse than any number of plastic bottles. Which method of water/food carrying would be the preferred pollution? The answer is indeed not to ban plastic. The answer is to convince people they need to clean up after their own asses. I can pollute your park with shards of glass. Is that preferable?

RTGolden
RTGolden

I like what you point out about personal responsibility.  However, the preferred method of carrying water in the wild is in canteens, of which there are many varieties.  My own hiking equipment includes a 1qt GI style canteen, a 2qt bladder style canteen (which i've modified to double as a solar shower if necessary) and two camelback bladders.  That way, as I consume water, my load actually decreases and I leave nothing behind.

Difdi
Difdi

Carrying water in a non-disposable container is a sub-culture thing.  If you're a member of that sub-culture (I am, and from your comment, I assume you are as well) doing so is as natural as breathing.  But you ought to realize, not everyone is a member of your sub-culture. There are quite a few people in this country who, confronted with a ban on disposable containers, will choose to carry no water at all.  It simply will not occur to them that there is any other option to be chosen, between the extremes of none at all, and water in a disposable plastic bottle. What happens to someone who wanders off into the desert with no water?

RTGolden
RTGolden

If they don't get found, they die.  Their own fault.  See above.

Scott Bieser
Scott Bieser

So access to the park should be limited to serious hikers, for whom the purchase of expensive gear would make sense, and be off-limits to the hoi-polloi, huh?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Another Morton's Choice?  Look, read my comments and you'll see I'm against an outright ban on plastic fluid containers.

For your information, 12 bottles of water cost about $6 at Wal-Mart.  I paid about $8 for both the 1qt and 2qt canteens with the solar shower modification. And that is a one-time expense, they're refillable.

I'm not saying ban plastic bottles, I'm merely pointing out there are options that are available to casual visitors.  As for the other comment, if someone wanders out into the wilderness, unprepared, bad things can happen.  This is not the responsibility of society as a whole, but the responsibility of the person.  When the idiot climbers (experienced, by the way) climbed Mt Hood without putting the proper safety measures in place they died. It wasn't the government's fault, it wasn't society's fault, it was their own fault.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I think you'll find that a ban on plastic containers for drinking fluids in National Parks would be a ridiculous endeavor.  I don't know about the Grand Canyon, but at Mesa Verde, Park staff lives on-site.  Some permanently, some seasonal.  A ban on plastic bottles would, by definition, ban milk jugs, juice bottles, gatorade, powerade, and also soft drinks and bottled water for the people living in the Park as well.  I'd hate to be the stooped, scrawny journalistic type to tell a wildland fire crew in the Southwest in August that they can't have Gatorade.  Not to mention telling the park rangers their children will have to drink powdered milk from now on, because Jim is tired of seeing trash in the park and too lazy to pick it up himself.

Difdi
Difdi

To say nothing of the fields of broken glass shards replacing intact plastic bottles as the litter du jour. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

I try to keep my argument based in the very real, and venture into the hypothetical, no matter how plausible it might be, as a last resort.

An avowed liberal will refer to your glass shards as a Morton's choice, and dismiss it out of hand.  However, opening their eyes to very real hardship their desired result would place on real living people will cause the liberal to consider possible PR damage before dismissing it out of hand.

After all, park rangers, firefighters and their families should probably live in wigwams and drink their milk straight from the udder.

Spamcatcher5678
Spamcatcher5678

 It's a shame you are so polarizing, and fail to find common ground in the arguments you are attacking. Last time I checked, littering was illegal. Last time I checked, National Parks were Federal property. Much like public schools, they are a shared resources supplied, paid for, and maintained by taxes. Its against the law to carry guns on school property, but it doesn't violate my right to bear arms. I'm in the camp for prohibiting plastic bottles, and don't think that would impede on my rights either, although the Parks service could potentially have issues finding an alternative means of quenching thirsty patrons.   The fact that our government officials are prey to special interests is an entirely separate issue, one that you are right to highlight. Perhaps you should instead rhetorically lynch our humble, annonymous public servant for his absurd failure to draw the logical conclusions necessary to properly serve the public interest.

Difdi
Difdi

Definition problem: You have real interests, every single one of the people who have different interests than you are "special interests".  Why?  What makes them special interests, while you are a member of The People with legitimate interests?

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

We are a nation of 300 million+ "special interest groups".

Montestruc
Montestruc

You act like you own the grand canyon, and coke & us too. Got news for you-- you don't own any of those.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Actually, by dint of being a human being, and an American citizen, he does own the Grand Canyon, or, more accurately, he is a steward of the Grand Canyon.  His solution may not be the best possible solution.  That does not make the problem he is pointing out invalid.

Difdi
Difdi

Plastic bottles aren't generally known for their over-land migratory patterns.  They get to the park because human beings carry them there.  Some human beings are petty criminals that litter in parks.  Just because it's a corporation making the point, doesn't invalidate the point.   Punishing every visitor to the park for the actions of a few is not an act of wisdom.  Littering is already illegal, yet people continue to do it anyway.  Potentially making every man, woman and child who visits the park into a criminal is not going to make those already inclined to break the law suddenly start obeying the law. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  Criminals are criminals because they break laws.  Why do you think passing a new law will suddenly cause criminals to obey it, when they haven't obeyed all the other laws already passed?

USN
USN

If you read the article, the stated problem is NOT littering. The stated problem is the cost of emptying the garbage cans.

Difdi
Difdi

A plastic bottle weighs very little, except in massive aggregate.  If plastic bottles are banned, people will throw away glass ones or metal cans, both of which weigh more than a same-size plastic container.  How is this an improvement? Banning disposable containers across the board makes more sense than just banning plastic bottles.  But this would have unintended consequences, as many people aren't members of the non-disposable water bottle sub-culture.  If I came to a place where disposable containers were banned, I'd just fill my Camelbak and my mother would fill her Nalgene bottle.  But quite a few people would choose to go without drinking plenty of liquids instead, and in the terrain around (for example) the Grand Canyon, this will lead to an upsurge in medical treatment expenses, both for the park and people in general.  Some people may even die of this unintended consequence (some people have no common sense, after all).

BTS
BTS

I think you should tell your shit to the city council of New Braunsfels. They just passed an ordinance banning disposable containers from the Guadalupe River. They got tired of picking up other people shit and the having to spend money to do so. And yes they do have the sheriff dept. wading out into the river to bust your ass. Your such a no nothing dude.

AnarcoCap3
AnarcoCap3

I find it ironic that BTS uses "your" instead of "you're" and calls this person a "no nothing," instead of a "know nothing."  How amusing. 

Difdi
Difdi

I tend to consider insults from people who sound like idiots (and on the internet, you are what you can support a claim to, not merely what you claim) to be compliments.  By definition, an idiot doesn't know what he's talking about, and the more angry he gets, the less likely he is to suddenly acquire understanding.  The more idiotic the person sounds, the less impact their invective has.

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

I believe the operative concept here is "rule of law." The idea that a society cannot and should not protect and promote its own welfare with laws is really and truly moronic. Mo-ron-ic.  

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

... and by the way, plastic bottles ARE known for their "over-land migratory patterns." It's called drift.

Difdi
Difdi

Which supports my point.  Even when you could earn real money from bottle deposits, some people still littered.  A littered plastic bottle and a littered glass one are equal eyesores, but littered plastic usually won't cause physical injury to humans when stepped on.  They also float, making cleanup easier, than having to dredge river bottoms for them. The park service objects to both litter and weight of hauled trash, but if plastic bottles are banned, retailers will sell more cans and glass bottles of beverages, which are both heavier than plastic, and harder to clean up both as litter and from trash cans.  A glass or metal shard can cut through feet and soft shoes (and then feet) while such an occurrence with a plastic bottle is quite rare. Banning all disposable containers would make more sense than banning just plastic ones,  but even that punishes, even criminalizes innocent behavior while doing little to rectify the actions of those who habitually break minor (or not so minor) laws.  People come into the park from outside it, they don't spontaneously appear, fully formed, out of nothingness just inside the park border, then evaporate as they leave.  Many people aren't fully aware of what is in their cars.  Friends drop things into the seats, kids make messes, a spouse might consider a bottle ban more or less silly than the driver does.  All of these things can make a criminal out of a law-abiding person, through no fault of theirs. If you ban possession of an innocuous and legal (outside the park) item, you won't stop the petty criminals from having them, and dropping them on the ground.  But you risk ruining the vacations of people who forget they have a six-pack of bottled water in the trunk for emergencies.  You risk ruining the vacations of people whose kid bought a Pepsi at the last gas station, and has it in the rear seat cup holder without his parents knowledge.  You encourage people, in a hot, dry and dusty location, far from medical treatment, to not drink plenty of liquids, because the best way to carry them is illegal.  Sure, a lot of people own non-disposable water bottles, but plenty don't.

Montemalone
Montemalone

I spent many a summer in the 70s wandering the streets of my hood picking up bottles, and collecting the deposits.Easiest work I ever did. Fun too. I remember the gallon jar of grass snakes I collected on one of those outings that had both my parents clinging form the rafters yelling at me to take them away from our house, far away. Still don't know what they were scared of.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

Difdi, your solution to the rafts of styrofoam and plastic is? Back in the ice age when I was a kid, when there were deposits on glass bottles, didn't see much litter. 

Difdi
Difdi

The last time I saw a full 12oz bottle of Coca-Cola drift was during a tornado.

Jay
Jay

Wow. This is the stupidest piece of drivel I've read all day.  How on earth could anyone equate litter with murder and child molestation, and then blame libertarians for it?  Stunning.

USN
USN

The problem stated in the article isn't littering. The stated problem is the cost of emptying the trash cans.Somehow Coka-Cola, Rick Perry, The Koch brothers, and Libertarians are responsible for the cost of garbage collection at the park...

Difdi
Difdi

It's human nature to oppose the policies and beliefs of the people you hate.  The tragedy occurs when you have a guy like Jim Schutze.  He hates everything Libertarians stand for, including the civil and constitutional rights he wouldn't be able to have a blog without, simply because a Libertarian is in favor of them.

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