Trash Talkin’ 2: Think Tank-Style
I must admit, this is one issue I am really torn on — the St. Louis County plan to divide the unincorporated parts of the county into trash districts and award one hauler the rights to do the job for that area. There is a great deal of opposition to this in South County. People like having the freedom to contract with whomever they choose to pick up their trash. Who can blame them for that? On the other hand, there would be undeniable cost and efficiency benefits to the trash districts.
I wrote about this a few months ago. The Mayor of Affton has also chimed in with his always enjoyable opinions. The argument for freedom in choosing your hauler carries great weight with me, although — let’s be honest — we are just talking about trash removal here. In the end, it’s just garbage, not freedom of speech, or religion, or beer. Most citizens in the county are probably having trouble understanding what the fuss is about, considering that most people live in municipalities that have long done with trash service exactly what the county is planning to do — bid the contract out to a hauler that comes into your neighborhood once a week to pick up the trash.
So, what should trump here? The right of the people to keep the system as it is, in which they contract with their own hauler and pay all the costs? If they want to have trash trucks come onto their street multiple days each week, that is up to them. On the other hand, having multiple trucks come on multiple days is obviously bad for the street itself, which everone in the county pays for with our tax dollars. (You may not be aware of this, but if you live in a municipality you pay the same county tax dollars as you do if you live in the unincorporated parts.) So, lower costs versus economic freedom of choice? Usually, these two things go hand in hand. This is a rare case where they seem to be opposed. I say, always err on the side of more freedom. Scrap the trash plan for areas that clearly do not want it, and keep it for areas that do.