Government’s Just The Way We Work Out How To Empty The Bins

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Barack Obama proclaimed that government is just the name we give to those things we do together. A statement which is wrong of course, society is largely made up of voluntary cooperation, not forced nor imposed by the power of the State. But there is a deeper point here which is that government is the way we gain those public goods that we cannot, or at least do not, gain through voluntary cooperation. Like, who is it that empties the bins?

That the bins get emptied is a public good. It’s a cost to each of us individually and yet there’s a definite advantage to it being done in a slightly more costly manner than we’d each attempt alone. We have indeed had entirely free market attempts at solutions and dumping just over the property line onto someone else’s land leads to festering piles of rubbish which breed rats and disease.

A system – one that is imposed to there are no free riders and thus flytipping – that organises all of this in a more expensive and more distant manner, that empty quarry over there, we care not that it breeds rats as we dump all into it, that’s worthwhile in a societal manner in a way it’s not individually.

Great, so, that’s governance then. Who empties the bins?

Councils are receiving almost 5,000 complaints a day over their failure to collect rubbish, according to new figures. An analysis shows calls to local authorities over bin collections has soared by more than a third in just five years. In total, more than 1.8 million complaints about rubbish not being collected were lodged with 336 councils last year – an average of 4,931 a day, according to the figures obtained through a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The spiralling complaints will fuel renewed concern over the decline in weekly bin collections. Homeowners have reported struggling to cope with a build-up of rotting household waste that remains uncollected for as long as a month in some areas of the country.

That basic, the most basic, function of governance is just what the current system of governance is not achieving. The why is obvious, we’ve allowed the fanatics to take over. Sure, the actual laws around this are European Union imposed, we must all recycle more, waste less and so on. But it’s that attitude, that we must do so, which is fanatical. There’s absolutely no evidence anywhere that we do need to recycle all, it’s a religion and a fanatical type of it. These peeps who announce they’re living waste free are just this generation’s hermits locked in a cell to pray themselves to death.

There’s an oddity here, we’re about a century and a half on from Bazalgette showing us what government was really for – to clean up the s**t. It appears that 150 years is about the time it takes us to forget that this is what government is for, a method of working out who collects the bins.

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Wondering how my bins in Texas could be emptied weekly and in Florida twice a week.

The rules on commercial waste pretty much encourage fly tipping. And around half the council waste whatever they call it centres here are planned to close, if they can get away with it. All of these problems are caused by rulemakers who have lost sight of the simplicity of the task.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

Firstly, a sop to the government (or local council if you will). The numbers in the article are a very small percentage of the bins that are collected. To the problems: 1) Collecting every 2 weeks doesn’t give any slack for missed collections. For > £2k per annum it’s about the only thing my council usefully does for me so not good value (even taking into account the rat problem). 2) RIPA means a council prodnose can snoop into your business if you overfill your one allocated bin (for example, when they miss the previous collection). Then take your kids… Read more »

Bloke in Kent
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Bloke in Kent

To the increased number of reported complaints / missed collections – could this not be at least partly explained by new online reporting options being made available by councils making it easier for people to make a complaint, thus the number goes up?