Monday, November 10, 2008

Your Government at Work

In yesterday's posting I referenced the truism that "government can never do just one thing" citing the federal income tax legislation impact on social engineering. Now we learn that the governmental love affair with recycling is having some unforeseen consequences resulting from the current and projected economic downturn. Due to said downturn the demand for discarded material which many municipalities mandate that their citizens recycle is at a record low bordering on the non existent. Consequently, these materials are accumulating at collection depots and in some cases constituting a health hazard. Unless this condition (the market) experiences an early turnaround, the material will need to be disposed of in various landfills, a scenario that among others the governmental action was intended to terminate.

As regards so many governmental programs, recycling mandates are based on often faulty or at least debatable premises, to wit:
1.Natural resources are finite and mankind will inevitably exhaust them.
This premise ignores the development and discovery of substitutes and new technologies. For example, the "crisis" experienced in the 1850s over the depletion of whale oil for lighting purposes miraculously disappeared with the new technology associated with petroleum. The free market with its supply and demand cost adjustments is invariably a better mechanism than a government bureaucrat or a pointy headed academic with a political agenda for the determining the use of resources.
2. The continued use of paper and other wood products will result in the complete deforestation of the planet'
In fact, not only are trees a renewable resource, but tree farming has resulted in the existence of more trees now than existed in 1820.
3. The areas available for landfills are finite and we will eventually be buried by our garbage.
A. Clark Wiseman, an economist at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, has calculated that if Americans keep generating garbage at current rates for 1,000 years, and if all their garbage is put in a landfill 100 yards deep, by the year 3000 this national garbage heap will fill a square piece of land 35 miles on each side. This doesn't seem a huge imposition in a country the size of America. The garbage would occupy only 5 percent of the area needed for the national array of solar panels proposed by environmentalists. The millennial landfill would fit on one-tenth of 1 percent of the range land now available for grazing in the continental United States. And if it still pains you to think of depriving posterity of that 35-mile square, remember that the loss will be only temporary. Eventually, like previous landfills, the mounds of trash will be covered with grass and become a minuscule addition to the nation's 150,000 square miles of parkland."

In any event, the various government entities will discover the truth in what Michael Munger, the Chair of Political Science at Duke University, wrote ,
"... if recycling is more expensive than using new materials, it can't possibly be efficient... There is a simple test for determining whether something is a resource... or just garbage... If someone will pay you for the item, it's a resource [absent a government subsidy]... But if you have to pay someone to take the item away... then the item is garbage."

We shall await with bated breath the actions taken by our rulers upon making this discovery. All the evidence points to substantial increases on the fees for garbage collection.

h/t: Fred Mangels
cross posted at: Eternity Road


Rose said...

The cure is nowhere in sight - regulations and excessive costs for businesses will prevent the very thing needed - new businesses who use that recycled stuff to make more stuff.

Things promise to get worse. Wealthy people have been put on notice that their taxes will double, the anti-corporate mentality has just been ensconced in Washington, people are hunkering down, sheltering wealth, prepared to ride out the next 4 years, new business development is the last thing on anyone's mind.

We'll see, maybe it will turn around. We can hope.

But it is going to take years to recover from the mass evaporation of wealth that took place, what? a month ago now?

And we've just put in power the very people who caused the collapse.

It's depressing.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

It's Bush's fault!