When We Demunicipalize the Garbage Service, Then We'll Have World Peace

This may just read like a "moment of zen" to most, but Radley Balko's thoughtful take on John Cole's rage over people who don't want a garbage collection monopoly reminded me of this quote from a 1963 letter from the then-chairman of the board of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), E.W. Dykes, to FEE's founder Leonard Read. It is taken from my history of the libertarian movement (which makes a great Christmas present, folks), Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement:

War is the culmination of the breaking of libertarian principles, not once, but thousands of times. We are challenged to jump in at this point and apply our principles to get out of the unholy mess, built up over years and years of error on errors. I suggest it would be a very little different challenge had he posed this proposition: "You are a second lieutenant. Your platoon is surrounded. Your ammunition is gone. Two of your squad leaders are dead, the third is severely wounded. Now, Mr. Libertarian, let’s see you get out of this one with your little seminars."

My answer—"demunicipalize the garbage service."

Now wait, don’t give me up as a nut yet. I have a point. That second lieutenant is a goner. And so is the prospect of a lasting peace until man learns WHY it is wrong to municipalize the garbage service. You can’t apply libertarian principles to wrong things at their culmination and expect to make much sense. It is too fundamental.

You have to start back at the very beginning and that is precisely what our little seminars are for. There are people who build for tomorrow; there are people who build for a year; there are people who look forward a generation—the libertarian, a part of "the remnant," takes the long view—he is looking forward to the time when war will be looked on as we now look on cannibalism, a thing of the past….What do we do in our little seminars? We make the case for freedom which cannot coexist with interventionism….Again I say: We will never end wars until we at least understand why the garbage service should be removed from the jurisdiction of the police force—that is, government.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Paul||

    I suspect this thread is going to be a long, drawn-out smackdown about failures of markets, why libertarians Hate Roads(tm), and how ungrateful we all are.

  • Max Chony||

    We need roads so we can have war!

  • nekoxgirl||

    Didn't we build the interstate system to better move around our tanks and stuff? So that might actually be true.

  • ||

    Germany built theirs for that purpose - ours was mainly a make work project to stimulate the economy.

  • Old Mexican||

    Actually, Germany ALSO built their autobahns as fake-work schemes. Tanks and troops were moved back and forth the frontlines by rail, most of the time, as it was faster and more economical.

    Pretty much anything the government does is fake-work.

  • DOT Worker||


  • ||

    "he is looking forward to the time when war will be looked on as we now look on cannibalism, a thing of the past"

    Speak for yourself...human, the other white meat...hmmmm, I guess the white humans are the other white white meat...

  • sarcasmic||

    definition of trust: gay cannibals

  • Citizen Nothing||

    That's a great passage.

  • Warty||

    You are a second lieutenant

    Once a lieutenant in higher service

  • ||

  • wingnutx||

    “Are things in our country so bad that it might actually be time for revolution?” Dylan Radigan asked yesterday on his MSNBC show. His unequivocal reply: “The answer is obviously ‘yes.’ The only question is, ‘how to do it?’”

    “To clear our dire problems may require even more drastic solutions,” he said. While introducing his cartoonist guest, Ratigan says those solutions might include “violence or at least the threat thereof”:

  • nekoxgirl||

    Apparently "dissent is patriotic" again? Well, that's a relief! I was afraid I would have to wait until the Democrats lost the Senate and the Presidency before I could question the legitimacy of the federal government.

  • ||

    You can’t apply libertarian principles to wrong things at their culmination and expect to make much sense. It is too fundamental.

    Very nice. And eerily prescient; "What would YOU have done, Smartypants? We had to have TARP, or the financial world would have imploded!"

    That train wreck took a long time to develop, but nobody wants to hear that part of the story.

  • robc||

    Q: Ive got lung cancer, doc whats the solution?

    A: Dont take up smoking 40 years ago.

    For some reason, that kind of answer pisses people off.

  • Doc Brown||

    I'm cool with it...

  • Corduroy||

    No No No it's all Bush's fault! The root of the problem started exactly when he took office!

    Or was it during Reagan's administration, I can never remember.

  • ||

    I blame Chester A. Arthur.

  • Juice||

    Well, he did sign the Pendleton Civil Service Act.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    It all started with Nixon, I think.

  • Ad Guy||

    Nixon's The One.

  • ||

    Everyone knows it was James K. Polk.

  • ||

    Millard Fillmore.

  • ||

    Reason should change the slogan of its webathon to: "Hit & Run: the only political blog where you'll ever see a reference to Mono Puff."

  • ||

    I've been blaming heavy metal music all this time.

  • greg||

    Well i guess this is a good sign for my kids? Also wasn't the initial funding for the U.S. interstate highway system premised on the need for a national defense highway system to get tanks and soldiers around when the ruskies come in?

  • Paul||


  • Corduroy||

    The legal authority came from making it a military expenditure. That was way back when the Commerce Clause had a shadow of meaning.

  • sarcasmic||

    The height of the overpasses was designed around mobile nuclear missile launchers.

  • ||


  • Dello||

    Off topic, and I apologize, but I don't know where else to get an answer.

    Why didn't a Libertarian group fight against DADT instead of the Log Cabin Republicans? It seems like, now that repeal is largely off the table, the anti-constitutional argument against it is the only thing that will move it's removal forward, and it seems like Libertarians sure could have used a feather in the cap like that.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Typical Libertarian Party fight against something is a press release and a group of people getting together on Meetup. Not making a slam against the Libertarian Party. It's just a small party with little influence and it's hard for it to put together a noticeable fight.

  • cynical||

    If gay rights are libertarian, doesn't that make the Log Cabin Republicans a libertarian group? Most liberties groups are focused on one area -- first amendment rights and due process, arms rights, property rights, medical rights, etc.

  • ||

    I've mused on these very pages that the Log Cabin Republicans should just become libertarians. They'd at least be welcomed.

  • ||

    See, you left the plantation of true libertarianism when you spoke of "gay rights". Sexual orientations don't have rights, individuals do.

  • ||

    So, "human rights" is just a nonsense word too?

  • Pedantically Obtuse||

    No. It's a nonsense phrase.

  • cynical||

    But not gay individuals, sometimes, depending on how you look at it and what you consider to be "rights".

  • Mike Laursen||

    the anti-constitutional argument against it is the only thing that will move it's removal forward

    Obama has been promising for a long time that he will seek a legislative repeal. It's an Obama promise, so assign credibility to promise accordingly.

  • DJ Drugs||

    I'd prefer to keep rules that make it harder to recruit people to kill, but that's just me.

    Down with the war machine; expand DADT to heterosexuals.

  • greg||

    is this a call for a "reverse" fabian society - then i google it and it seems that ?glen beck? may have proposed this last year. http://www.freethoughtsociety.org/?q=node/1722

    incidently i was eagle scout with tragichipster back in the willow grove days so its odd when I google something random like reverse fabian (which i think is a good idea) and them somehow find a line that mentions glen beck (which is not a good idea) and a gradeschool friend from philly

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: greg,

    Clean your keyboard, your "shift" keys are cleary dirty...

  • The Gobbler||

    Anybody around here got a greg to English translator app?

  • ||

    "What was Homer yelling?"

    "I dunno. Something about being gay."

  • NoVAHockey||

    That episode has one of my favorite lines: "Now I have four children You will be called 'stitch face.'"

  • greg||

    my brains are fried today from reading lubrication patents for work. and not interesting sex lubrication patents, just plain old boring polymer chemisty ones

  • ||

    I thought greg was just a spambot spouting keywords for meta searches or something.

  • greg||

    when you write enough patent language it starts to resemble spambot speak. Then it starts to leak into my other writing/typing

  • ||


  • ||

    As far as I know, we don't have government garbage collection in my city. You have to find your own vendor to collect your refuse. It's surprising how many companies are out there, and how varied their services are.

  • ||

    Businesses have been responsible for getting their own garbage removed for, I dunno, forever.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Currently living in a city without municipal garbage services, but with some county board that authorizes the private vendors to do business here. There are several to choose from and they offer a variety of service plan and we have one we like.

    But it's different from the one we used and like when we were living one town over because this county's board seems to feel that that county's companies would have an unfair advantage over the locals. For some reason.

    These counties have a reciprocal fire-n-ambulance service back up arrangement. This county pays that one for hazardous waste support, that one pays this one yard waste processing. They know about the principle of maximum advantage, but protectionism lives on the scale of "which high school football team do you root for".


  • ||

    San Dimas High School Football rules!

  • Jeffersonian||

    Brilliant point, brilliant tie-in.

  • ||

    When I was going to college in Colorado Springs, I only rented, so garbage collection was never something I devoted any thought to; but there was a company with Satisfaction Guaranteed, or Double Your Garbage Back on all their trucks. That always amused the shit out of me (still does).

  • ||

    There was an auto shop across campus from my college which had a sign that read: "No Muff too Tuff." That really has nothing to do with anything except that it likewise amused the shit out of me.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I used to see a septic tank pump-out truck - which was kept very clean and shiny, by the way - which had painted on the back end of it: "Your Shit is My Lunch".

  • Tanya||

    My parents live in a residental suburb where plots are roughly 1/3 to 1/2 an acre. However their house is at the top of a long, winding driveway. They were frequently "forgotten" as a result. One day many years ago, municipal garbage refused to pick theirs up, and outsourced garbage pick up for "tough" households to a private firm. Well! Garbage was always promptly picked up and never noisy enough to wake them in the wee hours, cans were never strewn about, notices of holidays were sent to each house with a reminder that pick up would be the following day, and the workers were cheerful. Once when my parents were out of town on their pick-up day they offered to swing by later that week for their trash at no extra charge.

  • ||

    To the goofy Libertarians... Allowing a true garbage free market is a recipie for cholera, dysentery and the plague! It has to be regulated to keep all of us healthy. So, government regulation must exist. The real question is how much government makes sense to the majority without over infringing on the minority. Democrats often manage the process badly. Republicans like to outsource the work so it costs more. But only a Libertarian can screw up garbage collection for everybody.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties