In preparation for consideration of the topic for this month’s column, here are a few basic observations.
There are two types of people in American society — those who think about the purpose of government, and those who don’t. Within the group of those who think about the purpose of government, there are also two types of people — those who think government can and should do certain things, and those who think that government is unable and/or should not attempt to do certain things.
As a result, there is a constant struggle between those who wish to empower government to do those things (and fund those efforts through fees and taxes) and those who seek to keep such power (and the associated fees and taxes) from government, preferring instead that individuals exercise responsibility over those things through private transactions.
And that’s Political Science 101.
The differences in opinion between these two groups is often so strident and uncompromising that the rhetoric degenerates into nothing but “trash-talking”. In the specific case of this month’s column, it happens to be exactly about trash-talking.
It is easy to understand how this story has been ignored, overlooked or just plain dismissed because it’s about garbage — and who wants to talk about garbage? It reminds me of the commercial for a certain brand of toilet paper that is currently running on TV, where the lady starts off with, “It’s time to get real about what goes on in the bathroom …” No thanks.
That’s an invitation for me to immediately change the channel, even if it’s to a Spanish-speaking soap opera (where they’re also probably talking about getting real about what goes on in the bathroom, but at least I can’t understand what they’re saying).
Apparently, in an effort to generate more revenue for the City of Dallas to close the budget gap that exists, city staff is considering a change in trash-disposal policy that would presumably add to the city’s bottom line, but it would also add a few other things.
The city is looking at requiring that all commercial trash be taken to the city’s one landfill in South Dallas. Doing so would result in more revenue for the city because the city would then be operating a monopoly. Currently, commercial trash is disposed of in 12 different landfills located across all parts of Dallas, which are privately owned and operated.
The negative economic consequence is fairly obvious — a monopoly operated by the city would have exclusive control over disposal rates and would be able to raise them at any time for any reason. South Dallas residents have expressed some concern about becoming the city’s sole dumping ground, so proponents have suggested the ruse of using the city’s transfer stations as interim collections stops, before the trash makes its final journey south.
Not only would that create an unnecessary and grossly inefficient step, but it would also result in an estimated additional 175,000 trips each year by heavy industrial trucks throughout our neighborhoods.
For us in Lake Highlands, that would unavoidably mean that these trucks would be making thousands of trips through our neighborhoods and passing by several schools to the transfer station on Fair Oaks. Using transfer stations would add $3.6 million to $5.4 million to the cost of disposal, which would be passed along to somebody.
The private waste-hauling companies are trying to get anyone’s attention at city hall to realize how counterproductive such a policy would be for everyone. They have even offered to pay higher franchise fees in an effort to address the city’s budget-driven reasons for contemplating this policy change.
Of course, this becomes an issue only because the city plays a role at all in the landfill business. And since the city owns a landfill, they are now considering ways of moving private companies out of the landfill business altogether and monopolizing the landfill business as a government-provided service only, which would undoubtedly cost Dallas citizens much more in fees and taxes as competition is eliminated and efficiencies are lost.
And when you think of it in that way, you can’t help but conclude that this proposal is a bunch of … garbage.