Fiat Garbage

Radley Balko has a fascinating discussion about a switch in government policy in Fountain Hills, AZ  (a suburb of Phoenix and a town I visit for various reasons all the time).  Apparently, residents of the town got to actually select from competing trash vendors (lucky folks!) until recently when the town selected and enforced a monopoly trash provider.  Balko has a fascinating discussion of why progressives seem to universally support this decision and oppose the previous choice-based approach.

It may be odd at first to see a self-styled progressive mocking someone for criticizing a corporation for exercising too much power.  John Cole writes sarcastically:

My GAWD. I feel so violated. I'm going through my bills before the Steelers game and I just realized that Allied Waste is contracted to pick up my trash, so my personal liberties have been impinged by the creeping totalitarianism of nanny-statism. To show solidarity with the oppressed Fountain Hills trash protesters, I am going to dress up in my "Don't Tread on Me" t-shirt, stand at the edge of my driveway at dawn during trash pick-up on Thursday, and throw pocket constitutions at the sanitation workers. We shall overcome, patriots!

This from a progressive bunch who runs to the government for legislation when their Big Mac has one too few pickles on it.  If you can understand why progressives attack any corporation that they voluntarily do business with for having too much power, but defend any corporation backed by government authority, you will start to figure out exactly what progressives are really after.  Just remember that progressives have a deep distrust of individual choice related to any activities that don't touch on sex.  And they are much more comfortable with lines of accountability that run through government officials (elected or not) rather than accountability enforced by competition and individual choice  (more on progressives here).

I will just add this to the story -- Fountain Hills is a suburb to which the verbs tony, wealthy, and exclusive could all apply.  Given its position in the foothills around Phoenix, it is perhaps one of the most attractive suburbs in the metropolitan area.  It is the last place one would point to as having some sort of problem with unkept houses and rotting garbage.  This is entirely a power play by the city -- it has nothing to do with the quality of the area.

Brad Warbiany has even more on the story here.

Mostly unrelated facts about Fountain Hills

  1. Fountain Hills was a development of the McCulloch family (of chain saw fame) as was parts of Lake Havasu City.  Both developments had a centerpiece attraction.  Fountain Hills has a spectacular fountain (one of the five highest in the world) while Lake Havasu City has the transplanted London Bridge.  As to the latter, the story goes that McCulloch thought he was buying the much more dramatic Tower Bridge, which American tourists often confuse with London Bridge.  As a further aside, I met the guy once who did the gunnite on the bottom of the transplanted London Bridge.  He was a pool guy and applying it over his head rather than under his feet was fairly new to him.  He said he never allowed his little kids to sing "London Bridge is Falling Down" in his presence, it made him too nervous.
  2. Our egregious Sheriff Joe Arpaio lives in Fountain Hills.  On a recent crime sweep of his home town, which he claimed had nothing to do with immigration, he arrested (or at least detained) almost all people of Mexican decent, in fact more Mexicans than I thought one could find in Fountain Hills, even on a bet.


  1. L Nettles:

    and I thought his was going to be a post about the new Fiat SUV's

  2. Tim:

    Aren't those adjectives?

  3. TomG:

    Whenever these stories come up, there is, nearly always, a silent group who didn't have any complaints: the customers !

    There has been talk recently of cabs in Washington DC being brought under more severe regulation. I haven't seen any complaints from customers in any article I've read - this push has all been from the politicians who are worried about the "excessive" (in their own heads) number of cabs that are available for pedestrians.

    Same deal with a doctor in NYC who had an arrangement with his lower-income patients for payment - they didn't complain at all....but the insurance lobby found out and used the hammer of the state to force him to stop his customer-friendly system.

  4. CTD:

    "Just remember that progressives have a deep distrust of individual choice related to any activities that don’t touch on sex"

    Exactly. My "progressive" friends are all about libertine sexual freedom. And to some extent, drug freedom as well (however, they seem to support any and all anti-tobacco legislation/regulation). In virtually every other sphere, they are completely authoritarian.

    Their eyes glaze over when I try to explain that they use the exact same arguments (from a logical/structural standpoint) as the homophobes they (correctly) rail against.

  5. Frank Waleczak:


  6. gadfly:

    Somehow missed in all this controversy is the fact that the government contract was negotiated and created where no contract was needed or wanted before. The impetus to create likely came from Town Manager Rick Davis, who admitted being influenced by his prior dealings with mega-trash companies in the Salt Lake area.

    The winner, in more ways than one, was Allied Waste, who ended up getting a five year deal by cutting their $18 per month charge to $11 (39% down) for a 50% reduction of the number of stops per week.

    If the town of Fountain Hills wanted to help residents with the cost of trash pickup, the Town Council needed only to alter its own rule requiring that private haulers pick up garbage twice weekly. Without the onerous government contract interfering, I am confident that the resident’s math skill would prove to be better than the elected officials in negotiating their own fee reductions . . . and having multiple services competing would likely assure this result.

    ... and then there is this from Cato: