Free Markets, Free People

Beware, techno – Leviathan

’m referring, of course, to the growing intrusiveness of government at all levels.  No longer is the sole focus of government the protection of individual liberty by preventing or punishing those violate those liberties by the use force or fraud against others.

Government has become an power unto itself and is engaged in behavior modification intended to make the proles conform to the governmental agenda.  Many times that agenda is increasingly aided by evolving technology.  It’s almost like a bad science fiction movie. 

For instance – if government has decided that recycling is no longer and option, but a requirement, technology enables it to determine that.  Instead of spending tax money on the services necessary to protect your rights, it instead spends that money on monitoring your behavior and punishing you with fines for that which doesn’t conform to its agenda.

It would be a stretch to say that Big Brother will hang out in Clevelanders’ trash cans, but the city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling — and fine them $100 if they don’t.

The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.

Actually, it isn’t a stretch at all to say “Big Brother” is hanging out in trash cans, because that’s precisely what this is.  It seems such a mundane thing.  It’s not.  Cleveland, apparently, has no other urgent priorities upon which to spend $2.5 million of their tax dollars on than to monitor your trash.

And it’s all about what is good for government:

Recycling is good for the environment and the city’s bottom line, officials said. Cleveland pays $30 a ton to dump garbage in landfills, but earns $26 a ton for recyclables.

So citizens are fined for not doing the government’s bidding and what was once a misdemeanor – for goodness knows what reason – is now a “civil penalty”.  That, one assumes, is simply a new name for Big Brother’s “incentive” to recycle as it demands.

This is what creeping government control over every aspect of your life looks like.  As one might say, it demonstrates the banality of evil.  Something as mundane as trash pickup – a service that should be private anyway – has been assumed by government and is now used as one more event in which the government controls your life. You dance to its agenda, whether you want to or not.

Freedom is choice.  Freedom is the lack of coercion, as Fredrick Hayek once declared.  In Cleveland, one more choice, and one more bit of coercion has taken another bit freedom away.  Call it death by a 1,000 cuts, but freedom and liberty are becoming more and more threatened –a process aided and abetted by today’s technological advances.



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22 Responses to Beware, techno – Leviathan

  • “But officer! When I beat him with a bat I thought he was some bum rooting through my garbage and making a mess! I didn’t know he was a city employee!”

    Glad to see Cleveland has it’s eyes on the important things.  Jobs, etc.  so passe.

  • Michelle Malkin had this up a couple of days back.  My suggestion; just cart your recycle bin out every trip to the curb.
    Another reader had one I liked better.  Find the transponder chip on the recycle bin, and put it under your mail box.
    Americans won’t stand for crap like this.

    • “Americans won’t stand for crap like this.”

      Unfortunately Americans far too often do stand for crap like this. People have to stand up for their rights. If this recycling is such a good idea, then the city can do their own recycling. They don’t have a right to use their gun and badge to force people to do this work for free!

      • I was using “Americans” in the highest sense.  I agree with everything you said, Jim.  But there are people who live here, and there are Americans.

  • It is my understanding that recycling programs lose money. (see Econtalk podcast with Mike Munger) Maybe with prices of copper and aluminum up, its profitable now.
    If it is profitable to the city government, maybe they should simply pay the citizens for recycling. Perhaps the sum per individual would be too small – then earmark the funds for something cool as a public incentive.
    Also, how much garbage are they dealing with where its profitable to install chips and hire employees to sort trash for compliance? If the savings are 56 bucks per ton, then they would need to be catching 1,000 tons or more per year of “wasted” recycling just to pay part of the guys salary.

    • In the Houston region, which is very industrial, my segregation of glass is a wasted effort.  Nobody wants it.  It isn’t economic to even take as a recycled material, according to everyone in my rural area.
      I first had the realization that environmentalism is a religion about three decades ago, when I saw a PBS debate on glass bottle deposit laws for the Inter-mountain West.   The enviro bimbo wanted to make glass bottles carry a refundable tax, to push recycling.  An economist lady pointed out that the entire area at that time had no refractory where the glass could be used, and that transporting it where it could be used would actually use MORE resources than not recycling at all.  The environmental chickie did not dispute that…agreed, in fact.  But we needed a law, anyhow.  So, it wasn’t about wise use of resources at all.  It wasn’t about rational choices at all.  It was a religion, and its acolytes were willing to force everyone into conformity.

      • Munger’s point was that if no one is willing to pay you for it, then its trash and not a resource. By definition, if its cheaper to make new glass than recycle old glass its wasting resources to do that, and thus recycling is harming the earth not helping it.

  • Simple enough as to why they’re willing to spend $2.5 million –
    one of three reasons:
    1)  a green NAZI isn’t seeing enough recycling to make them happy, meaning it’s just random opportunity to punish and make a buck at the same time.
    2) Someone genius has done a study and determined they’ll make more than $2.5 million in fines.
    3) Most likely, they expected to get some kind of kick back revenue from the recycler and they ain’t seein it because the recycler isn’t seeing enough recycle refuse from the pickups.
    None of those take into account life style changes – but does give them a nifty excuse to hire someone’s brother to go through your trash, how sweet.    If you weren’t shredding all your personal information before you trashed it, you will now.  If I lived in Philly and owned an Office Max, I’d invest heavily in paper shredders.
    On the flip side of all this, as a kid I can remember, a ‘garbage’ man coming and emptying a bucket (in a concrete lined hole covered with a lid in the ground by the back porch) where we dumped all the table scraps that people now grind up in a garbage disposal.  And let’s face it, back in your great grandparents time, they didn’t throw all those bottles out…etc….we DO waste a lot of raw material needlessly because WE CAN.  I’m not sure I want to fight for the right to promote waste because it’s convenient.

    • LOL  hey, if someone from the govt is going to go through your garbage, load it up with broken glass, fish guts, and a few large cylinders marked “MEDICAL WASTE”

    • And let’s face it, back in your great grandparents time, they didn’t throw all those bottles out…etc….we DO waste a lot of raw material needlessly because WE CAN.  I’m not sure I want to fight for the right to promote waste because it’s convenient.

      Actually, they did too, and we don’t WASTE a lot of raw materials.  If you ever read about folks who “dig” old farm-steads, they are digging out the old trash pits.  Ever see a “bottle tree”?
      “Waste” is not use.  If we can’t economically put it back into use, we economically dispose of it.  It isn’t gone.

        As a kid I also remember coming across ‘nests’ of Coke bottles, and making what seemed like a fortune on the bottle return  But, really, thinking back on the broken glass and other stuff-  you have me there  – you’re right about the bottles – I grew up as a descendant of honest for sure skin flint Yankees, all kinds of things got reused, and bottles and jars were among them, so I let my personal view obscure what was reality for society even then.
        Your point is accurate – I’ve even heard of a guy in Charleston SC who was making money finding the old privy spots and digging them up because that was where people dumped (pun intended) all kinds of things, many of which have become collectible antiques.

      • I also suddenly have visions of the rows of old dead rusting autos, trucks, and farm implements these same skin flint Yankees had out near or IN the gravel pits that seemed to be universal in every ‘back field’.

        • Right, looker.  As transport and other technologies have made recycling LESS expensive, the market responds with MORE recycling.  Steel mini-mills are a great example.
          The plastic bottle (the EVIL plastic bottle) was a response to the flap over glass recycling.  So much of Greenliness is pure crap.
          BIG GOVERNMENT ruins.
          Markets innovate and raise the standard of living.

          • heh – hogwash, how many times does that great edukator, Herr Doktor Friedick Erb have to come and tell us all about how markets MUST have government intervention!!!!!  Will we never learn???!!!!!
            All miss-spelling was intentional.

    • Recycling is good for the environment and the city’s bottom line, officials said. Cleveland pays $30 a ton to dump garbage in landfills, but earns $26 a ton for recyclables.”

      I question the math in this.  While Cleveland may pay $30 per ton for landfill, that cost is included in the price we pay for the service of garbage removal.  If Cleveland receives $26 per ton for recyclables, does that pay for the entire tab of recycling?  I can not phathom that all those union employees and all those vehicles, shredders, seperators, and sorters are being paid by 1-2 bags of cans and papers at every 2nd house. 

  • Recycling is good for the environment and the city’s bottom line, officials said.

    Well, so long at the CITY makes money, to hell with the “bottom line” of its citizens subjects serfs, eh?

    • Funny, how they become capitalist when its their turf that gets expanded.

      • This ain’t capitalism.  A cash-strapped feudal baron from 700 years ago would find this sort of thing totally familiar.

  • So if I lived in Cleveland and I took my recyclables in I’d be charged with petty theft?

    • Possibly. When I lived in New Hampshire there were some enterprising souls who came around ahead of the official trash trucks and picked up the recycleable cans and bottles. They were threatened with prosecution if they did not cease and desist. Once the stuff was on the curb it was considered gov’t. property.

  • Hi! this was a great post youve made. I will make sure to send this with my colleagues