Dave Killion — November 25, 2010
Here in the Capital Regional District (Greater Victoria) we have a ‘blue box’ recycling program. Neither snow, nor rain, nor federal or provincial holidays stay the recycling trucks from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, and that means there are pick-ups on Labour Day, Easter, BC Day, Victoria Day, and just about every other holiday. Since government usually shuts down on these days, I knew there must be a private sector actor involved, and sure enough it turns out that International Paper is paid to pick up recyclables on a per-house basis. As a libertarian, I’m somewhat pleased with this, because it means my recycling pick-ups are more consistent than my municipally-supplied garbage pick-ups. But government suffers from what I call The Minus Touch. It differs from the Midas Touch in that everything the government touches turns to crap, rather than gold. I saw more evidence today that I am correct.
If you don’t live in Victoria, you may not know that snow falls here infrequently, and it doesn’t stay for long. Because of this, residents and businesses simply struggle through these brief interludes rather than keep a stock of the skills and supplies needed to deal with snow. You also may not know that it snowed here on Monday, and last night as well, so the roads are a mess and the recycling trucks are behind schedule. Since today is recycling day, I put my blue box out nice and early, because the truck usually rolls by around 8:30 and gets my side of the street, then loops back around 9:00 and gets the other side. That’s not what happened today. Today the truck showed up at about 11:00, and got both sides of the street at the same time.
See that? They were late, and they got both sides of the street in one trip. That means they were trying to speed things up by being more efficient. Why did they wait until they were late to act more efficiently? Because a government-endowed monopoly protects them from competitive market forces that would have forced them to seek efficiencies earlier on in the process. That means taxpayers like me are paying more for recycling than they otherwise would.
Like I said, the Minus Touch.
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