Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ask Not What You Can Do For My Company

Bobby Kennedy Jr. is gifted with a Times Op-ed today on the inequities of the expanded bottle bill-and, not surprisingly, the self described environmentalist makes it all about himself-and the water company that he heads: "A good new deposit bill could encourage recycling of new classes of beverage bottles and also provide financing for curbside programs that capture other kinds of recyclable waste...Unfortunately, the New York Legislature passed a bottle law last month that not only fails to accomplish these goals but will actually harm the recycling programs New York has. It is an ugly sausage that was cooked up by lobbyists for makers of sugared drinks and their allies in the Legislature."

Really? This would be news to all of those food and beverage lobbyists that were ignored-shunted aside for all of RFK's cohort of environmental purists-when the governor and the legislative leaders crafted this bill under the cover of budget. So, the idea that this "ugly sausage" was cooked up by lobbyists for sugared drinks indicates that Bobby Jr. must be suffering from sugar shock.

But let's get to his real objections to a bill that was struck down by an injunction from a federal judge yesterday: "Instead of requiring deposits for all the new beverage categories, as Gov. David Paterson originally proposed, New York’s new bottle law covers bottled water only — unless that water contains added sugar."

And it just so happens that Bobby owns a water company-but not just any water company: "I am both a water bottler and an environmental activist. My water company, Keeper Springs, donates all its profits to the protection of rivers and public water supplies. I am also committed to achieving zero waste through recycling." So RFK isn't really one of those exploitive capitalists just in it for the money-and, as, "an environmental activist," and not a company owner, he objects to having been treated inequitably by the expanded law.

And then there are the children: "The Legislature, which began the year promising to lead national efforts against obesity and diabetes, exempted from the deposit law all noncarbonated beverages that contain added sugar. That means consumers are expected to pay more for zero-calorie choices than they will for sugar-filled options like teas and sports and juice drinks. The markup will encourage millions of New Yorkers, and especially price-sensitive populations like the poor and children, to consume sugar-spiked beverages instead of water."

No objections to the fact that the entire bill-along with the state's grabbing of the unredeemed deposits-is a huge tax on all beverage consumers; including those deluded souls that like to drink soda. And it was Governor Paterson, not the legislature, that lead the effort to tax soda.

But the RFK's of the world, supported by lavish trust funds that allow them to act as quixotically as they please, remain hostile to the economics of all of their well meaning meddling. So imbued are they by the visions of environmental purity that they lose sight of the fact that the food and beverage industry is a vital economic cog in the state's economic well-being. In the case of the expanded bottle bill, however, Judge Griesa kicked them all to the curbside.