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Short takes on issues

Published March 31, 2012 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Don't opt out • It should be an easy call for Orem residents: The cost to the city for dumping in the landfill, $29 a ton; the cost of recycling, $0. Assistant City Manager Jamie Davidson said that is the reason for the city's new "opt-out recycling" program. Oremites will all be included in the recycling effort unless they notify the city that they don't want to participate. The cost will drop from the current $3.55 per month to $3.05 for recycling collection, since more people will participate under the opt-out system. Opting out would be the wrong choice. Orem produces hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage, so saving $29 per ton is substantial. And there is the environmental aspect. Landfills are finite, but recycling is sustainable.

Too much autism • Utah is ranked No. 1 in autism diagnoses in the country. The statistics are striking: One in 32 Utah boys has autism. The rate for girls is one in 85, and that represents a 1,200 percent increase between 2002 and 2008. Overall, Utah's rate is one in 47 children. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based on 2008 data. It means, on average, that every classroom in Utah schools has a child with autism spectrum disorder, which can cause symptoms ranging from severe to mild. The findings, based on 2,000 children in an urban area on the Wasatch Front, indicate Utah has a significant spike not attributed to overdiagnosis or an uncommon definition of autism. No scientists or officials will speculate yet on the cause, but these numbers cry out for thorough investigation.

This time, listen • Before George W. Bush's misbegotten invasion, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki warned Congress that the occupation of a post-Saddam Iraq would require "several hundred thousand soldiers." His civilian superiors publicly disagreed. Shinseki was right. Now retired, Shinseki, who visited Utah last week in his new role as civilian head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, is warning everyone that the nation will soon be responsible for the care and reintegration of more than a million veterans. Many of them will be suffering from wounds to the psyche rather than the body. More of them than in the past will be women. All of them will be re-entering an economy that is creating few jobs. There is a danger that Shinseki's new job will be more difficult than his last one. But at least we should listen to him this time.