Government Efficiency

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.

Comments

Steve says

Hey Dave,

This article was sent out internally to all constituency offices by an MP from the federal NDP party a few days ago. I thought libertarians might find it interesting that the left might have more in common with your ideals then might be otherwise thought.

Make some comments and I could possibly have them circulated to all constituency offices.

The article by Chris Hedges:
http://www.countercurrents.org/hedges190310.htm

— November 26, 2010

David C says

Steve: Thanks for your comment. I am aware that libertarians have some things in common with the left. I was actually mentioning to members of our book club a few months ago that it would be nice to get a grass roots left voice in the club – someone who has anarchist/progressive learnings – some people call them left libertarians. I wish there was more cross dialog between the grass roots left and libertarians. Murray Rothbard, a leading thinker in libertarian circles, established a relationship with those on the left in the 1960’s. I believe he joined up with them because of their strong stance against war and public schools. Yes you heard that right! The left opposed public schools back in the 1960’s because they felt they were state indoctrination center’s – thats exactly what libertarians say today!

By the way thanks for posting the Chris Hedges article. LOVED IT! Don’t agree with all of it but I still love it: “Obama, now a global celebrity, is a brand. He had almost no experience besides two years in the senate, lacked any moral core and was sold as all things to all people. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Zappos.com.” My feelings exactly. Half of the young people were basically duped by Obama’s compaign. The ones who could sense integrity voted for Ron Paul.

Chris Hedges states: “All infrastructures we build, like the monasteries in the Middle Ages, should seek to keep alive the intellectual and artistic traditions that make a civil society, humanism and the common good possible.” PREACH IT HEDGES, PREACH IT! I am with him on this big time. I think we need to be building sustainable and alternative communities that can weather the coming blow – I also think those communities should be free from the monopolistic power of the state.

— November 28, 2010

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