By Jen Houghton
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener (District 8) wants to change the redemption value of recyclables from cash to food vouchers.
He hopes this will reduce the number of complaints about unkempt people that congregate with shopping carts at redemption centers as well as “give lower-income people what they need.”
While food is a top priority for any human being, plenty of people who collect recyclables use that money for hygiene items, clothing and hotel rooms in lieu of full shelters or other necessities.
There’s no sure way to know what a person digging through recycling bins or trash cans is going to do with the redemption money.
Wiener is known for working on other issues such as fighting for gay marriage rights and his desire to keep San Francisco’s nightlife vibrant. It’s upsetting to hear that his time and influence would be spent on an issue that is simply a symptom of a much larger problem.
Wiener’s proposal is reminiscent of a 2007 episode of “South Park” where the town is overrun by homeless people. The fire chief of South Park suggests giving all the homeless designer sleeping bags and makeovers saying, “At least that way they’d be pleasant to look at.”
Offering food vouchers instead of cash won’t change the appearance of those who recycle. If a person does choose to spend their hard-earned redemption money on drugs or alcohol, they’ll simply sell the food vouchers.
Wiener is also making the assumption that anyone who recycles is homeless and hungry. There are countless people with homes and full refrigerators that recycle simply because they are earth-conscious and want to redeem the California refund value for the containers they purchase.
Mandating what people can spend their money on is presumptuous, to say the least. If this proposal gains support, we should all fear the day when our tax returns or lottery winnings come in the form of vouchers.