Friday, September 25, 2009

Garbage In Garbage Out

Learned something today...

I am narrow minded and self centered. Let me explain.

I received a note from my trash hauler that said the city council is considering new laws for trash collection. Currently the city, the second largest in the state of Minnesota is a free for all. The only stipulation I am aware of is that all the haulers have to serve the same neighborhoods on the same day so there are not trash trucks rumbling up and down the streets 5 days a week - this makes perfect sense. The city is open to competition and we have excellent choices and lower costs. I recently changed haulers and saw my bill drop by more than a 3rd. This is good, no?

Well, of course it's good for me. I am motivated by nothing more than cost. I can't say "boy that guy picks up the trash way better than the other guy".

So today I called my city councilman to voice my opinion about it. The first thing I asked was what problem were they trying to solve. To my surprise I got back some decent answers that made some sense.

  1. Multiple haulers going down the alleys that were not designed for that much load adds to repair costs for the city and property owners. Hmmm I don't have an alley.
  2. Efficiency for the hauler in that (after winning the bid for that particular district) they can condense their routes and save fuel. Hmmm not my fuel.
  3. The requirement that all properties have trash collection could be enforced when one hauler has all properties in a district - many don't and use the road ditches for their junk. Hmmm I have seen street garbage myself.
OK. So I can agree some of this has merit. However he lost me when he said that these government mandates and regulations should increase efficiency that will result in lower costs. I laughed and oddly so did he... In the end I had more questions than answers.

  • A fair compromise?
  • A logical step toward government takeover of trash collection?
  • A solution looking for a problem?
  • All of the above?

The lesson I guess is that when I look at something through the rose colored lens of my narrow world I can't possibly see the whole picture. In this case the city is not (currently) calling for municipal trash collection and will open up for bids from private companies district by district. I am still skeptical primarily because I see my costs going up!