Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 308
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 15, 2005

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

The city, wisely, did nothing after a consultant told them that government ought to manage Warrensburg's trash. After all, the Johnson County Board of Services, through the sheltered workshop, runs a fairly extensive voluntary recycling program for county residents. Apparently, to the Citizens for Environmental Excellence (CEE), solutions not involving government coercion aren't solutions, so they got a couple of economists from CMSU to look at the economics of local recycling. The economists said that recycling lacks economic incentives. Well, duh!

When there is little market for recycled items as raw materials, there is no money to be made by recycling. If markets existed, then recycling companies would pay for cans and bottles and there would be an incentive for people to sell their recyclable items. That's why only the tax-supported sheltered workshop runs a significant program. Recycling doesn't pay without a subsidy.

The preferred solution by CEE seems to be to put local trash haulers out of business by franchising a single garbage company for the city. Then, the city could create a new garbage bureaucracy with its own rules and staff to enforce them. One of the rules would likely be that you'd pay by the number of bags you put out; the City's $20,000 consultant last spring wanted you to buy color coded bags from the city. People want to do that, right?

The proposal creates an economic incentive for people to sidestep the proper disposal of trash. Instead of filling trash trucks, "midnight disposal" by city residents would fill commercial dumpsters and country roadsides with their trash.

CEE members say they're frustrated by city and county government failure to jump through hoops to comply with their demands. They're upset because "education" hasn't worked; people just don't understand that the CEE knows what’s best for them, and local government is reluctant to force people to do what the CEE says.

I ask, why should we trust the city (who just gave away $6.4 million of our tax dollars to a developer) to manage a trash program without imposing bureaucratic rules and high costs on us? Why should we listen to a self-appointed group of do-gooders who want government to manage another small aspect of our lives?

See also Gadfly 294.

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