28 December 2010

They Only Want Complete Control

Gregg Easterbrook reports that New York City is now fighting “recycling thieves:

The New York Times recently reported that unwanted appliances -- old washing machines and so on -- placed on the curb for disposal in New York City have been "disappearing." With scrap metal prices strong, what the article calls "thieves" have been driving along streets scheduled for used-appliance pickups -- in New York City, this happens by published schedule -- and taking away the unwanted junk before the city's officially approved recycler arrives. The "thieves" then sell the unwanted junk as scrap metal…
Recycling of aluminum makes good economic sense, given the energy cost of aluminum and the high quality of recycled aluminum. Depending where you are in the country, recycling of newspapers might make sense. Recycling of steel and cooper usually makes sense. But recycling of glass, most plastics and coated paper is a net waste of energy. Often the goal of government-imposed recycling program is to use lack of understanding of economics to reach into citizens' pockets and forcibly extract money that bureaucrats can control.
Notice what else is happening here -- New York City pays a company millions of dollars to do something "thieves" will do for free. The "thieves" harm no one, and could save New York City taxpayers considerable money. But then bureaucrats wouldn't be in control. [Emphasis mine.]  And surely no-show jobs and kickbacks have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with New York City sanitation contracts.

So, the New York City government has an opportunity to save the taxpayers of their fair city millions of dollars.  Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, city employees make it a police matter if someone “steals” trash and recycles it.  Making this a police matter increases costs, leaving it alone decreases costs.  Like any good bureaucracy, the NYC Sanitation Department opted for the more expensive choice.  And so, the city government retains its power over the subjects citizens of New York City.

No wonder people want to leave that hellhole.

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