I was interested in the article in the Great Bend Tribune concerning the new laws regarding scrap-metal licenses. You know we’re in a bad economy when people exert a fair amount of time, energy, labor (yes, albeit misguided or evil labor) to steal public-owned manhole covers, street-signs, and other metals such as copper pipes and plumbing-fixtures to sell as salvage at scrap yards.
I fully see the rationale that governmental entities local, state, and federal, take in wanting to be vigilant to catch such thieves who try to make some dollars off of their ill-gotten-gains. However, I’m not sure licensing of businesses is the best route to take. It is already a crime in most places to sell stolen-property. Items that are marked with the owner’s names or initials can readily identify the rightful owner’s identity, be it governmental-property or an ordinary-citizen’s property. Mark well your valuable property.
Making a business get a license sounds good, but the real bottom-line is vigilance. Innocent citizens and businesses simply don’t want to get ripped-off. Metal recycling businesses, large and small, may readily comply and procure the licenses as a matter of standard operating procedure but it still requires manpower, man hours of documentation, along with holding areas of suspicious items to insure even partial success. A business may have the best of intentions, but occasionally items can be hidden in massive trailer loads of items dumped en masse, in piles of debris, that, at first blush may appear like ordinary or legitimate salvage.
I’ve taken legitimate things to salvage yards myself and know that separating precious metals from seemingly junk items alongside can be the proverbial task of finding a needle in a haystack if the recycling-business has tons of customers, many different piles to place debris, and everyone is wanting to get in and get out in a hurry. It is often difficult to catch an honest mistake, let along catch a real criminal perpetrator who is masking evil deeds.
We already have so many laws on the books, I’d much prefer that companies practice vigilance and report suspicious items seen even if they had to hire an extra set of eyes. Granted, that would be more expensive than a license, but it might prove more effective if violators were reported quickly, with tag-numbers of vehicle trailer license plates being written down, to enable perpetrators getting caught, issued a citation and/or jailed promptly by police or sheriff’s departments.
Politicians crow, beckon, beller and beg for job creation. This is one type of job that needs to be created in these tough economic times. Even if it was just minimum wage paying jobs, many people would eagerly apply. I’d rather create jobs than create more paperwork for an ever-bloating bureaucracy.
The object is to deter criminals from stealing and laundering metals for financial-gain. Hiring a vigilance officer makes more sense than adding a new law that the office of the repealer may one day have to amend or repeal. Too bad that useless laws cannot be melted down and recycled into something more productive.
James A. Marples,