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Old September 15th, 2009 #1
Alex Linder
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Default Garbage Collection

[Government is not the solution, it is the problem. In which area is that not the truth?]

Municipalized Trash: It's Uncivilized

Mises Daily by Jeffrey A. Tucker | Posted on 9/14/2009 12:00:00 AM

Driving into work today, I saw garbage bins overflowing and city dumpsters spilling out with trash. It stinks. It's disgusting. It's uncivilized. It's probably dangerous to some extent.

It's a holiday, so of course the government workers charged with picking up this nasty refuse can't work, even though construction workers in private firms are busy bees taking advantage of the extra time.

It's true with house trash too: pickup is once per week — on schedule — and there is nothing you can do to make it more frequent. It's part of the master plan, don't you know, and if you make more trash than the once-per-week pickup can contain, that is your problem, not the city's.

The very fear that people have about private trash collection — that it will pile up and no one will do anything about it — turns out to be a regular feature of government trash collection. But we look the other way. Why?

Before getting to this, let us first establish that garbage is a serious issue. Libertarians were once chided by William F. Buckley, his head full of schemes for threatening populations with nuclear annihilation, for bothering with such petty concerns as trash collection.

"It is only because of the conservatives' disposition to sacrifice in order to withstand the enemy," wrote Buckley in 1961, "that [libertarians] are able to enjoy their monasticism, and pursue their busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors."

Ah yes, little seminars. Seminars about such things as the avoiding the plague. Humanity has some experience with the results of failing to dispose of trash properly, and that experience is deadly. Plagues swept the ancient world every 50 years or so, spread mainly through a lack of good sanitation. The Black Death in Europe might have been avoided with better sanitation and a decent system for disposing of trash, rather than letting it pile up on the streets.

History's fight with the plague in the developed world came to an end at the time of the rise of capitalism in the late middle ages, and no surprise there. With the accumulation of capital came innovation in trash disposal, since living in sanitary conditions and staying alive turns out to be something of a priority for people. This is why the largest advances in garbage collection came about during the Industrial Revolution.

And yet here we are in 2009, with trash piled up on the streets and stinking to high heaven, bags full of raw animal parts (chickens, pigs, cows, fish), baby diapers stuffed with waste, rotting eggs mixed with sour cream dip from game-day parties, piles that are right now being scavenged by roaches and rats. This is in a town that prides itself on its tidiness.

And we put up with this for the same reason that we put up with lost mail, potholes in roads, dilapidated schools, depreciated money, and a clogged court system: because these services are monopolized by government.

Now you can make all the public-goods arguments you want to about roads and courts, but trash disposal is not rocket science and could be easily handled by the market. Everyone wants trash removed, and the sooner the better.

That means that there is a market demand for the service. There is money to be made. The only way to keep something like this at bay is to make it illegal.

If the market were in charge, pickup would surely be more than once per week. We wouldn't have to drag our trash bins out to the curb. In fact, we would be faced with several or many possible options for trash pickup.

If we made more trash than we "should," we wouldn't get angry notes from the city government. The private pickup companies would be thrilled. We might be paying by frequency of pickup or perhaps by the pound. That would be for the market to decide.

In fact, trash pickup services might actually be characterized by — perish the thought — innovation, just as they were in the early part of the 20th century, when trash collection was mostly private. Our houses might be directly connected to underground trash-transmission services that would whisk it all away in an instant. Our kitchens might have highly effective trash chutes that would zap away trash as we make it.

But because of this ghastly tradition of municipalizing trash pickup (or we might call it Sovietizing), the entire industry is stuck in the past, utterly impervious to improvement and modernization.

We get our news through fiber optics, walk around with tiny wireless phones that can instantly connect with anyone anywhere, and shop digitally with any vendor in the world. But when it comes to trash, we are still relying on once-per-week, strictly scheduled pickups by tax-funded workers driving monstrous, old-model trucks.

In my town, even the trashcans are paid for and owned by the government, as if the private sector has yet to figure out on its own initiative how to make a tub for holding things.

So why does this system persist? I asked a few people about this, and the answer usually came down to some system of graft. Powerful people make the trucks, manage the landfills, and dole out the contracts. Perhaps so, but why do we put up with it?

It seems like a preposterously unobjectionable plan: open this system to private ownership and competition, and thereby innovation.

I don't just mean contracting out. I mean abolishing city trash pickup and letting private enterprise completely take over. There is just no way that the existing muck would persist, for it offends every aesthetic sensibility and it may pose a ghastly health risk.

As for the old conservative claim that libertarians are insufficiently worried about the Soviet threat and too much about garbage collection, note that the Soviet Union is gone and the garbage problem is still with us.

Jeffrey Tucker is the editor of Mises.org. Send him mail. See his article archives. Comment on the blog.

http://mises.org/story/3698
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #2
richyrichard
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Ludwig von Mises. I might have known.

Step right up folks. Just one swig of Dr. Ludwig's free-market elixer and all your ails simply vanish.

Private enterprise will gladly pick up your garbage and dump it...um...somewhere. Why, in their very own private dump yard, of course. You don't mind if they build one next door to you do you? After all, we don't want any of those commie zoning laws either!

Yes, they will be right out. The profit-motive solves everything. It keeps business honest, caring, and proficient, at least in a place called Never Never Land, that lovely perfect world where only perfect people live.

When private enterprise decides its more profitable for them to pick up garbage elsewhere, another private collection company will instantly appear to replace them. The free market provides for all. At least, as long as someone decides to go into the garbage collection business. If noone does, well, you can always call Ludwig to pick it up for you. Oops, we're sorry, the number you have dialed is not in service.

Last edited by richyrichard; September 15th, 2009 at 11:43 PM.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #3
Duke Mitchell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richyrichard View Post
Ludwig von Mises. I might have known.

Step right up folks. Just one swigg of Dr. Ludwig's free-market elixer and all your ails simply vanish.

Private enterprise will gladly pick up your garbage and dump it...um...somewhere. Why, in their very own private dump yard, of course. You don't mind if they build one next door to you do you? After all, we don't want any of those commie zoning laws either!


No, private enterprise would burn trash to extract the energy in the form of heat that is in the trash instead of piling trash up like a crazy man in his own giant municipally owned backyard.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #4
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Government isn't the problem. The quality of people in and at the helm of the government is the determining factor. This is a confusing thing for most Americans since they don't know how to identify quality in people.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #5
Duke Mitchell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohgolly View Post
Government isn't the problem. The quality of people in and at the helm of the government is the determining factor. This is a confusing thing for most Americans since they don't know how to identify quality in people.
You make the mistake of assuming quality people want government jobs.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #6
Alex Linder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohgolly View Post
Government isn't the problem. The quality of people in and at the helm of the government is the determining factor. This is a confusing thing for most Americans since they don't know how to identify quality in people.
Common view, but wrong.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #7
Alex Linder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohgolly View Post
Government isn't the problem. The quality of people in and at the helm of the government is the determining factor. This is a confusing thing for most Americans since they don't know how to identify quality in people.
Hire all the quality people you want at the post office, if you could find any willing to be bored to death. It doesn't change the economic law, the fact, of incentives that are different from a private company's. A private company must make money or go out of business. The government has guaranteed income. Very few people will work hard if they enjoy the same pay and benefits for mediocre or lazy work. PO is the perfect proof of that. They don't care how long the line is at lunch, when the productive people have 30 min or and hour to get their stuff done; it's all the same to the government worker. They leave half their windows shut and don't work an ounce quicker.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #8
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Take the guaranteed monopoly on first class mail away from the PO, and you have fundamentally changed the nature of the institution.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #9
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Originally Posted by Duke Mitchell View Post
No, private enterprise would burn trash to extract the energy in the form of heat that is in the trash instead of piling trash up like a crazy man in his own giant municipally owned backyard.
Yeah, and it would force everyone in the vacinity to breathe in dioxins.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #10
richyrichard
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Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
It doesn't change the economic law, the fact, of incentives that are different from a private company's. A private company must make money or go out of business.
Kinda like war profits. Nothing beats the "free enterprise system".

We don't need public roads either. Everyone can build their own road.

Three cheers for anarchy.

Last edited by richyrichard; September 16th, 2009 at 12:02 AM.
 
Old September 15th, 2009 #11
richyrichard
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Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
Take the guaranteed monopoly on first class mail away from the PO, and you have fundamentally changed the nature of the institution.
You certainly will. Private enterprise will line up at your door to pick up your letter, hand carry it to their private post office, sort it, carry it to an airport, fly your letter to Washington State from Miami, and hand deliver it from the airport to the rural door of your best friend, for 42 cents.
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #12
richyrichard
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Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
A private company must make money or go out of business.
That is correct. And often they do. Then what?

I'm sorry sir, your letter got as far as Oklahoma from Florida and got re-routed to another competing mail company in Indiana. The mail company that runs from there to Washington State went out of business so it was routed to Virginia. From there...

Last edited by richyrichard; September 16th, 2009 at 12:07 AM.
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #13
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Wasn't Tony Soprano an owner of a private garbage removal company?
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #14
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All talk about "free enterprise" and "free market" and "capitalism" became farcical the moment America, Canada and the EU handed over about $10 trillion to private banks, investment firms and corporations.
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Old September 16th, 2009 #15
Gabry Ponte
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Wasn't Tony Soprano an owner of a private garbage removal company?
Hey buddy it's Waste Management. And there is no mafia. Forget about it!
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #16
Duke Mitchell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richyrichard View Post
Kinda like war profits. Nothing beats the "free enterprise system".

We don't need public roads either. Everyone can build their own road.

Three cheers for anarchy.
I'm sure an anarchy system could do a better job building roads than the screw ups in state and city government.

If you own a piece of land, you have to pay for maintaining the road around it. Simple as pie.
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #17
Duke Mitchell
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Yeah, and it would force everyone in the vacinity to breathe in dioxins.

Buzzword bullshit. Incinerators can be engineered to emit very little actual pollution through complete combustion.
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
Hire all the quality people you want at the post office, if you could find any willing to be bored to death. It doesn't change the economic law, the fact, of incentives that are different from a private company's. A private company must make money or go out of business. The government has guaranteed income. Very few people will work hard if they enjoy the same pay and benefits for mediocre or lazy work. PO is the perfect proof of that. They don't care how long the line is at lunch, when the productive people have 30 min or and hour to get their stuff done; it's all the same to the government worker. They leave half their windows shut and don't work an ounce quicker.
That reminded me of a time when I delivered a load of oil to the Toyoya plant in Georgetown, KY.

I just finished up unloading the oil out of my tank. I went back up to get my paper work signed off. The people who are to sign my paper work were sitting in their little cubicle. They just started their lunch break a minute before I showed back up.

I asked them if they could sign my paper work so I could get going onto the next job. They said they could not until their hour lunch break was over.

They told me that I could go over to the cafeteria and wait until they get back from break. I said "cool, I'll go get something to eat while you all pay me $75 an hour.

Those pricks called my company up and told my people that I was being a smart ass. These were all White people who called in on me.
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Old September 16th, 2009 #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richyrichard View Post
That is correct. And often they do. Then what?

I'm sorry sir, your letter got as far as Oklahoma from Florida and got re-routed to another competing mail company in Indiana. The mail company that runs from there to Washington State went out of business so it was routed to Virginia. From there...
Anybody who thinks UPS or FedEx can't do a better job than the Post Office when it comes to delivering mail must not be living in the world of reality.
 
Old September 16th, 2009 #20
Alex Linder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richyrichard View Post
That is correct. And often they do. Then what?

I'm sorry sir, your letter got as far as Oklahoma from Florida and got re-routed to another competing mail company in Indiana. The mail company that runs from there to Washington State went out of business so it was routed to Virginia. From there...
CI retard-level reasoning. Is Fedex known for losing mail or is the PO?

Which one employs niggers who dump bags of mail in the bushes so they can snooze?
 
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