On Oct 15, I wrote a letter to St. Louis County in response to their fall newsletter in which they were trumpeting their plans to once again overstep their authority and interfere with the free market economy. Here is the letter I wrote:
St. Louis County Department of Planning
41 S. Central Ave.
Clayton, MO 63105
After reading the September issue of Saint Louis County Direct, and the story about the county’s trash service proposal, I was compelled to write to voice my concern over this proposal.
I recently moved into a subdivision in unincorporated St. Louis County. Prior to that, I had been living in a municipality that had negotiated a similar trash hauling agreement with one particular company. I was never happy with the service I received at that location, and so it was one of the noticeable benefits of moving to unincorporated county that I could now use any trash service that I wanted. You are now attempting to take that benefit away, and I am opposed to you doing so.
In the article, Dave Wrone gives some of the reasons why this proposal is a good idea. Mr. Wrone says, “Currently five, six or seven different companies haul trash from the same residential street. That means large, loud garbage trucks rumbling up and down the street five or six days a week, every week, year-round.” I certainly won’t presume to speak for all county residents, but the periodic noise of garbage trucks is not enough of a nuisance (by itself) for me to justify this proposal.
Mr. Wrone goes on to say, “The formation of trash districts, with each district receiving service from a single hauler, will mean less aggravation for residents, more accountability on the hauler’s part, and less wear and tear on the public roadways.”
First, as I’ve already stated, there is no aggravation for me, personally, and I’d be willing to bet that it’s not a problem for most county residents. Second, Mr. Wrone is mistaken to believe that a forced monopoly of service will increase accountability. As I mentioned above, my previous experience shows me that having a single hauler, reduces accountability because they are not worried about losing your business. As it stands now, if I am unhappy with the service my trash company provides me, I fire them and hire someone else. That’s the beauty of the free market. Those “five, six, or seven” companies are all competing for my business. Under this proposal, that competition is eliminated, and so is the incentive to improve service and reduce costs.
Lastly, Mr. Wrone’s claim that this proposal will reduce “wear and tear“ on the public roadways is somewhat misinformed. Does he really believe that all of those trucks will simply vanish if they are no longer providing service in a given district? I can assure you that they will continue driving routes throughout the county, continue using the public roadways, and continue burning the same amount of fuel (perhaps more, if being locked out of certain areas forces them to find business in other areas that are farther away).
In conclusion, I must ask that you stop interfering with the free market. That is not the purpose of government. Please drop this proposal entirely and allow the residents of the County to continue deciding for themselves who deserves their business the most.
Jerry A. Pipes
I’m obviously not alone in my opposition to this plan, since the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran this story today. It cites a couple more reasons why this plan is such a good idea for County residents — ideas that apparently didn’t make the cut in the County’s own newsletter.
One reason is the emphasis on recycling. I agree that recycling is important, I think the value is obvious, and that’s why I am willing pay extra every month to my current trash service to see that it’s done. But I respect the rights of my fellow County residents to decide for themselves whether or not recycling is important to them and their families. I wish my County government would do the same.
Also cited in the story is the problem of illegal dumping. Bob Robinson and John Thro of the St. Louis County Problem Properties Unit are “desperate” to have this problem addressed. Mr. Thro enthuses that “if this new ordinance will get at least some of these people to start using a hauler, then it will help a whole lot of people.” The problem is dramatically portrayed as a “health hazard” but nowhere is it explained how forcing people to use a single trash service when they currently are not paying for trash service at all will help the situation. Am I missing something?