What’s on your congressman’s mind today? Is it US-world relations, the federal debt or the myriad of complicated problems facing us at this season? Would you believe it’s something entirely different, such as the ubiquitous question asked by many supermarket box boys as he packs up your groceries: “Paper or plastic?” Yes, believe it or not, the overpaid congressmen and women that we send to Washington DC to run the country are having a spat about coffee cups and whether they should be paper or plastic. The sad fact revealed by this spat is that neither side is really with it on the coffee cup recycling issue. They are both out in left field, missing a few beans. John Matthews reported on the Washington DC “coffee cup war” this week. Apparently the majority party in the House gets to pick the type of disposable cups used by the cafeteria’s coffee machines. When the GOP came in this January, they replaced the Democrats’ recycled paper cups with styrofoam cups. To complain, some of the Democrats sent around a letter claiming that styrofoam cups cause cancer. It seems lobbyists don’t want to miss a good fight, so one of them, the American Chemistry Council, jumped into the fray and rebutted that claim in another letter (hopefully of the cyber type, not paper) which defended the environmentally-questionable foam. This letter claimed that the Democrat charge against the foam cups was both untrue and unfair, as the FDA had approved the use of this - more-correctly-labeled “polystyrene” plastic - with food. Instead of an argument over whether or not stryrofoam cups cause cancer, the real issue should be not personal health, but environmental health. Recycled paper cups are better for saving the trees, but still will end up in a landfill. The view these days by the truly environmentally conscious is the BYOC (bring your own cup) movement. This is the one way everyone can choose their own cup material, conserve trees, spare the waste and share the responsibility. Wouldn’t it be great if the members of the House of Representatives could adopt the BYOC stance and set an example for the rest of the country in true leadership fashion? In the meantime, maybe Matthews is correct in his assessment that the congressmen should all switch to decaf!
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