In the mayor's race, Sheila decided to attack Brad on his summer cleanup program. She had something to the argument, but it didn't ring true to most voters. Clearly, being against the summer cleanup program wasn't a winning strategy. I started to think about this, and I was talking to one of the Arbor District leaders (thanks Sandy) today at the Farmer's Market and thought I could do something interesting about trash cleanup now.
I have been reading Steven Landsburg's book "More Sex is Safer Sex" of late and it suggests an interesting way to look at this problem. The person who pays for the cleanup, should be the person who makes the mess. For example, imagine you have a piece of land and someone dumps a load of garbage on it. Who should pay to clean it up, the land owner or the person who dumped the garbage? I think we can all agree it is the dumper, instead of the dumpee, right?
I need to pickup the trash in the business buildings that I own every second or third day. After years of this pickup, the break down of the trash is bags or cups from fast food places (stuffed full of crap) (50% of the total), liquor bottles and cans (30%), pop and water bottles and cans (15%), and everything else (5%). I generate none of this garbage personally, I have a trash bag in my car, but I bear the cost of the cleanup.
Taking my non-scientific, but vetted over time, sample, it seems like the people who should pay to cleanup Carbondale are the users of takeout fast food and consumers of bottles and cans doesn't it? When did it become the land owners fault that other people tossed trash onto their property? That isn't right.
I ran into Bob Pauls today and asked him about this. Bob says that some other communities are charging $.10 per bag of takeout fast food to pay for the cleanup. I know that in some economically enlighten places, they have a bottle and can deposit, which shifts the cleanup costs to the people who litter. It isn't very hard to see how to do it.
I am now going to suggest that Carbondale get in front of this problem by keeping the large scale cleanup program, but paying for it through a usage tax on the people who are generating the litter, the consumers of fast food takeout and bottle and cans. The cleanup program should run throughout the year, if there are funds and then the youth employment can continue for the good of all involved. Of course, landowners who generate trash in their own yards will still have to pay for the cleanup, but those rules are in place now.
What do you think, should we shift the cost of cleaning up the mess in Carbondale to the people who generate the mess? I think this is why Sheila missed the mark in her complaints about this program, she was complaining about the victims receiving benefits and that is a hard sell.
Your comments are welcome.