Response to Letter
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:21:43 -0500

When Tierney's article "Recycling is Garbage" appeared in the NYT
Magazine on June 30, I considered writing a long dissertation to the
editors. Knowing that such a dissertation would never get printed, I
decided against it (besides, many of our colleagues have already sent
strong messages / dissertations to the editor). However, when I saw
"economics" Professor Mark Kuperberg's letter on July 21 favoring
Tierney's article, I felt that some sort of short, concise reply was
necessary. Below you will find my Letter to the Editor.

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43d Street
New York, NY 10036

Dear Editor and Mr. Tierney:

In response to Professor Mark Kuperberg's letter (July 21) in support
of John Tierney's article ("Recycling is Garbage," June 30), I submit
that Kuperberg argues within a flawed economic paradigm, where our
consumption and investment patterns do not take the source of inputs
and disposition of outputs into account. Such a model results in
inappropriate price signals within the market. For example, in
addition to the fact that we neglect the full costs of enviornmental
degradation resulting from the extraction of raw materials, the
associated industries are heavily subsidized. The financial
assistance that recycling receives is a pittance in comparison to
these large subsidies.

At the waste end, landfills are not the safe havens that Tierney
imagines. We are not recovering the full costs associated with
closure and post-closure monitoring of landfills. Since the prices
that are being set for direct land disposal will not recover true
costs, who will pay these costs and when? Democrats and Republicans
alike say that we must provide a safe, financially solvent future for
our children, but this conflicts with Tierney's suggestions.

David B. Reynolds
Principal, Enviro-nomics
Diamond Bar, CA