Progressives for State-Sanctioned Corporate Monopoly (BUMPED, with an Update)

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Last month, John Cole complained after his local water company dug a hole in his backyard without his permission. They were installing an outdoor water meter. When Cole asked why he was never told, the workers blew him off, and said they had a right of way. Never one to miss a chance to take a cheap shot at libertarians, Cole wrote:

If libertarians would focus on crap like this instead of all the smug bullshit and contrarian economic analysis, they might actually be able to build their party.

At the time, Mark Thompson correctly observed that Cole’s conception of libertarians pretty clearly exists only in Cole’s mind. This is exactly the sort of thing libertarians care about, focus on, and obsess over. Most of the successes of the Libertarian Party and of libertarian activists in general have come at the local level.

In any case, jump forward to this week. A Tea Party group in Fountain Hills, Arizona is protesting the city council’s decision to eliminate the local market for trash collection. Instead, the town has contracted all garbage collection to a single company.

So here’s a tea party group rallying around a local issue. What’s more, they’re protesting the local government’s decision to grant a state-enforced monopoly to a private company. Seems like the sort of thing a good progressive like Cole could get behind, no?  Of course not. Instead, Cole mocks the protesters for their pettiness. Those stupid rubes! Look at them getting all excited over a local issue while there are pressing, national issues to address. Or as Cole put it, by way of a class-warfare non-sequitur, “This is how the American empire will end. With us rioting in the streets over the right to choose a trash collecter [sic], while the top 5% laugh all the way to the bank.”

It’s particularly amusing that Cole would evoke income inequality in this post. Perhaps he can explain how a  town taking business away from four trash collection companies in order to grant a city-wide monopoly to one brings us closer to his goal of an America where wealth is distributed more evenly. I’m having hard time figuring out how that would happen.

Cole weighed in again later:

Christ on a crutch. This was small “d” democracy in action, not nanny statism or “central planning” or whatever ludicrous term you want to bandy about. A local town council, elected by the citizens, sat around and viewed a bunch of bids for trash collection for their municipality, and then chose one private firm and outsourced it to them. This is not some faceless bureaucrat at the UN headquarters foisting his will on an unsuspecting population. This is not some slippery slope to the erosion of individual rights. This is subsidiarity in action, and if you find it too oppressive or too vulgar an imposition on your personal liberty, you can move, or you can work with like-minded people to elect new town council members and change the contract.

This is why no one with half a clue pays ANY attention to these abstract libertarian principles and the people willing to spend hours upon hours discussing them. The town council picked a company to pick up trash, and the teahadists freaked out and think it is socialism. End of story. The rest of us are pointing and laughing at them, and now you.

*** Update ***

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!

Where to begin? First, this issue is a hell of a lot more important to the residents of Fountain Hills than “some faceless bureaucrat at the UN headquarters foisting his will on an unsuspecting population.” It affects them directly. They don’t like the decision their local elected officials made, so they’re protesting it. That too, is “small d democracy” in action. And it’s the exact sort of local involvement in which Cole wrongly claims libertarians don’t engage. (In Cole’s world, though not the real world, “libertarian” and “tea party” are interchangeable.)

E.D. Kain, the lone voice of sanity left at Balloon Juice, tried to point out the errors in Cole’s criticism. Most notably, if you think city officials customarily hand out contracts based solely on merit, considering only what’s best for their constituents, and only after carefully considering a variety of bids, especially when it comes to sanitation, well, there’s a man in a jumpsuit waiting at the diner who’d like to make you an offer that you can’t refuse.

Of course, Kain was roundly chastised by Balloon Juice bloggers and commenters for his quaint naivete. How silly of him to actually think through this particular debate; to actually consider things from the perspective of the citizens; to question the idea that the public good, not self-interest, always motivates elected officials when they’re granting contracts. This is Balloon Juice. You are to reflexively take the side that provides the most opportunity to mock libertarians and tea partiers. (By the way, my defense of this particular tea party group on this particular issue is in no way meant to imply my broad support for the tea party movement, or Arizona tea partiers in particular—a fallacy Cole regularly employs.)

Cole weighed in again in the comments to Kain’s post:

You completely missed the point of my post, then. I’m not opposed to having choice in trash collection.

My point is that it is absolutely insane to blow a fucking gasket over this issue like what is happening in that town in Arizona. They elected a group of people, they sat around and thought things through, and came to a decision. Don’t agree with it- fine! Elect someone to replace them and repeal the decision in a few years.

But what is insane is to riot about it.

There was no rioting. Go back and re-read the article from the Arizona Republic. There was organized protest. There was speaking out in a city council meeting. There were warnings that voters might hold Fountain Hills officials accountable for this decision next election. Yes, the protest has included some silly and overheated rhetoric. But certainly no sillier or more overheated than you’ll find in a typical Balloon Juice post. In general, the protesters seem concerned that granting a monopoly to a private utility company could disrupt the garbage removal service that the people of Fountain Hills apparently believed the free market was providing pretty efficiently.

I don’t want to put words in their mouths, but perhaps, perhaps, the Fountain Hills protesters are worried that the lack of competition in trash service could give rise to the sort of complacent service and disregard for customers that might cause, say, a water company with a government-granted monopoly to dig holes in a customer’s backyard without first getting his permission.

MORE:  I critiqued John with a long post that pointed out what I believe are inconsistencies in his criticism of tea partiers and libertarians, that explained why I think he should be opposed to enriching a single corporation at the expense of consumer choice, and that criticized him, though with a pretty light hand, for mocking the Fountain Hills protesters for engaging in the very sort of localized activism that he in the past has criticized limited government types for ignoring.

He has now responded with a short post that has nothing in the way of a substantive argument, but does misstate the points I made, makes a crack about Ayn Rand (note: I’m not a Randian), uses the junior high term “teabaggers”, uses all-caps to mock the people he disagrees with, and tags me as a glibertarian, a term that once had a specific definition, but now apparently means any libertarian who makes a point John Cole doesn’t like. (Seriously, John. If you’re going to call me a “glibertarian,” the term really has no meaning at all. I spend 90 percent of my time writing about issues and advocating positions that will never personally affect me.)

He also mocks me for taking 1,200 words to support my criticism of him with links, supporting arguments, and nuance. The horror. I’d have done better, I guess, to dismiss him with a one-paragraph string of penis-themed insults headlined with a caricature of his position spelled out in all caps. Also, lots of exclamation points, personal attacks, and inside jokes. That seems to be how you have “discussions” over there.

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61 Responses to “Progressives for State-Sanctioned Corporate Monopoly (BUMPED, with an Update)”

  1. #1 |  Big_Texan | 

    I’m not sure who this ‘Cole’ fella is, but he sounds like a dochebag.

  2. #2 |  Mattocracy | 

    When the opposition thinks something is good, then it’s bad. When they think something is bad, it’s good. Partisan hacks have a hard time seeing themselves for what they really are.

  3. #3 |  dingdongdugong | 

    I dont have the patience to do it, but can someone go through kain’s article and change a few words to make it about the local water company, rather then garbage collection?

    Maybe then he would get the point.

  4. #4 |  Random Guy on the Internet | 

    Off Topic-
    AP) JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A Mississippi man who spent more than 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit has died less than a month after his name was cleared in the case.

    Bobby Ray Dixon died Sunday from cancer. He was 53. Jerry Dixon says he’s glad his brother lived long enough to see himself cleared by DNA evidence in the 1979 rape and murder of a Hattiesburg woman.

  5. #5 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “… the local government’s decision to grant a state-enforced monopoly to a private company …”

    There’s a word for this.

    It starts with “fasc” and ends with “ism.”

    Heavens no, Mr. Cole, whoever you are, let’s not try to stop fascism.

    This one’s fun too: “If libertarians would focus on crap like this instead of all the smug bullshit and contrarian economic analysis, they might actually be able to build their party.”

    Smug bullshit like morals. Contrarian economic analysis like common sense.

    You know what, fuck building the party — I’ll take smug bullshit and common sense.

  6. #6 |  JOR | 

    Since when have progressives been against granting monopoly privileges to select elites?

  7. #7 |  Michael Chaney | 

    contrarian economic analysis

    Otherwise known as “reality”. The Paul Krugmans of the world are the actual “contrarians”.

  8. #8 |  JS | 

    Big_Texan “I’m not sure who this ‘Cole’ fella is, but he sounds like a dochebag.”

    Yea I’m gonna go with this one. Pretty much sums it up.

  9. #9 |  Cyto | 

    Thanks Radley, that was beautiful!

    On the topic at hand – we had a similar situation when I lived in Atlanta. If you lived outside the city limits you could get back-yard pickup for less than the cost of sanitation services inside the city limits where you had to use an approved (and smaller) container and move it to the curb yourself for pickup. The mayor-elect (Bill Campbell) ran on a platform including privatization of city services, including sanitation and water. Needless to say, once he got elected that didn’t happen. Instead, they expanded the areas where you were forced to use city sanitation. Nice. I love paying more for less.

  10. #10 |  Thyrezene | 

    Do you go into McDonalds and make fun of the special kid mopping the floor? No? Then why the hell do you make fun of Cole (or read Balloon Juice at all)?

  11. #11 |  Carl Drega | 

    Who the hell cares what some random douchebag thinks about trash pickup politics in Arizona? Did I miss when this Cole person became such an important voice worthy of burning calories on challenging?

  12. #12 |  RomanCandle | 

    There’s alot of projecting going on within the Left these days. Cole’s posts are petty, angry, and filled with curse words and personal attacks…yet he criticizes libertarians for blowing a gasket over something trivial? How do you even begin to engage a guy like that?

    Another example is the dude over at the daily kos who accused the “white right” of having a temper tantrum…by writing one of the angriest, most unhinged blog posts in the history of the Internet.

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    (In Cole’s world, though not the real world, “libertarian” and “tea party” are interchangeable.)

    Thank you for making point.

  14. #14 |  TomG | 

    John Cole used to be a right wing guy, who “woke up” back when the Terry Schiavo controversy blew up into national news. Unfortunately, he’s gone from uncritical right wing apologist to nearly-uncritical left wing apologist (imho). Balloon Juice does often have posts worth reading, and their blogroll connections are great, but don’t expect a reasonable discussion of ANYTHING libertarian from them. I’ve seen (grudging) complements of Radley there, but it is surrounded by how Reason magazine is glibertarian (ha ha chortle chortle), and much pointing and laughing at anyone who attempts to mention that there are some solid arguments in the libertarian camp that deserve a hearing.

  15. #15 |  Professor Coldheart | 

    For all their talk about “small ‘d’ democracy,” the big party liberals don’t have a lot of love for actual grass-roots politics.

    Consider their reaction to the Ron Paul candidacy. “Oh, no – don’t mention Ron Paul’s name or a thousand Paul fanatics will flood our comment section! LOLZ”

    Hey, guys: of course they will. What did you think grass-roots politics would look like in the age of social media? That’s how Paul got his name out there: by flooding free outlets with information until people couldn’t ignore him. That’s how you get national attention with a fraction of the bigger guys’ fundraising.

    I’m not the world’s biggest Ron Paul fan, but he’s the success story that progressives that John Cole should be looking toward. Provided, of course, they’re actually interested in “grass roots” movements, as opposed to just putting more money into the One Party System.

  16. #16 |  John Jenkins | 

    Cole ought to go back and read the title policy that he purchased when he bought his home (or the title opinion if he went that route). Somewhere in those documents he will find a perpetual easement in favor of the utility company.

    Oh, and if you plant something over that easement, then the beneficiary of the easement has the right to rip it up to do whatever he needs to with the (in this case) water line. So, he can film all he wants, but before he tries to complain, he might want to go back and look at his vesting deed (which will say something like “subject to all easements of record”).

  17. #17 |  Highway | 

    Here’s the reason the water company is digging holes in people’s backyards without telling them: Because your government regulated utility tells them they can’t raise prices to cover things like… oh, community outreach and coordination. So they need to upgrade their physical plant? They have the right-of-way, they go do it. Much easier to deal with the 3% of people who complain afterward (and have the project done) then to deal with that same 3%, plus the know-nothings they rabble-rouse onto their side of the argument, beforehand and stretch out the process. That costs a lot more, which they can’t recover.

    I know I’m in a weird position: a libertarian / minarchist who designs public works projects for federal, state, and local agencies. But I’m amazed at the mindset of the ‘ordinary’ folks, who think they understand everything about every aspect of their lives, and are experts on what ‘needs’ doing and what doesn’t. If you call us up and ask us, we’ll be glad to explain. But we do ask that you actually listen to what we say, and not just ignore it to make your stupid point.

  18. #18 |  Fredrik Bauer | 

    Hahaha! The most hilarious post I’ve read in weeks.

  19. #19 |  SJE | 

    Radley just pwnd John Cole. Anyway, Radley raises a very good point that is often overlooked: we often hear protests about the FEDERAL government, yet most of the daily indignities of government occur at the state and local level. Zoning permits, inane taxes and license fees, these are usually LOCAL issues. DMV: state. You are infinitely more likely to get beaten by, raided by, or have your dog shot by, the city or county cops than the state troopers and even less likely by the FBI. So, while it sucked to be Randy Weaver, thousands more are killed, or wrongfully imprisoned, by state and local cops and prosecutors.

  20. #20 |  RLP | 

    Just in case you didn’t know, Sheriff Joe lives in Fountain Hills and wants to keep the competitive garbage pickup

  21. #21 |  Aresen | 

    @ Random Guy on the Internet | November 9th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    30 out of 53 years of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit only to die after 1 month of freedom? That story is so depressing.

  22. #22 |  ert | 

    FACT: If it were a protest by so-called progessives against a state sanctioned monopoly, this Cole character would probably be right alongside them.

    I am bored with these types of people and their high flexible “ideology.”

  23. #23 |  TomG | 

    Aaaaand Cole is all upset that you called him out, Radley ! LOL.
    So they DO read Reason’s Hit and Run blog over at BJ.
    I didn’t get the “Cole is a hypocrite” aspect from the way you wrote this up (which is his spin on it), I just got the “Cole is one of many lefties who doesn’t see that two of his issues are contradictory.”

  24. #24 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    Used to read Balloon Juice, but Cole went downhill really fast and became unreadable.

    Radley, just ignore the twit and let him expire in obscurity the way he deserves.

  25. #25 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I had enough proof that John Cole is an idiot looooooooong ago.

  26. #26 |  Ryland | 

    I’m not sure how my easements fall. I have no gas lines in my yard at all. They were removed and capped at the city’s right of way years ago when the house was remodeled to all electric.

    On the funny side, you should have seen the road construction guys traipsing all over the place looking for the gas meter.

  27. #27 |  K9kevlar | 

    I used to have government garbage service. Wife shows up one day when i was getting the new house ready to move into, she says ” You said today was garbage day. “It is, they came this morning” was my reply. “No they didn’t, the cans aren’t out in the street.”

  28. #28 |  Steve Verdon | 

    John Cole is an idiot. There, that simple.

  29. #29 |  Tom Barkwell | 

    “Exclamations points, personal attacks, and inside jokes” are indicative of a lack of self-confidence, maturity, and wisdom. As is the hissy-fit style of snarky invective that writer employs.

    I can’t imagine he has much worthwhile to say. If so, he wouldn’t need all the counter-productive embellishment.

  30. #30 |  b-psycho | 

    TBH, the mob bit at the end didn’t help…

  31. #31 |  Rich Robinson | 


    First time long time.

    So a time-limited contract award secured through a competitive and transparent bidding process is now a “state-sanctioned monoply”? Granted, i am not a libertarian but that does come across a tad hyperbolic. Besides, isn’t trash collection exactly the type of municipal public works activity that we (even libertarians) envision local governments to handle? And in this case they are outsourcing it.

    Putting labels aside, I get your point about a vocal group of citizens petitioning their local council/Board of supervisors concerning the potential grant of an exclusive contract for services. And i obviously agree that if a group of like-minded citizens would prefer to individually contract with trash collection providers, then they should aim to elect smililarly like-minded representives on the council to represent their interests.

    My problem is that on this particular issue, it seems that public works, specifically trash collection, is exactly the kind of issue that lends itself to collective action at local government level. I have an interest in ensuring my trash is collected, and given the clear externalities at issue, i also have an interest in seeing that others’ trash is properly collected as well.

    If you want individual, private trash collection, i have no problem—simply aim to elect a majority of representatives that will promulgate that view. I won’t complain. Otherwise if the majority reps feel that this is something that should be bid out exclusively then so be it. It is really just small-d democracy in action either way you look at it.

  32. #32 |  Rhayader | 

    What really strikes me here is Cole’s sheer vitriol. Here’s a man who can’t help but resort to a four-letter word every other sentence in the course of ridiculing over-reaction. Sheesh. I don’t mind profanity, but the anger in his posts is pretty startling.

    It’s like he has a personal vendetta against a group of people who, by his own account, can’t “build their party”. Dude needs to chill.

  33. #33 |  Balloon Douche | 


  34. #34 |  Cynical in CA | 

    It takes two to tango. Radley, we’ve discussed game theory before. Sometimes the only way to win is to ignore a person. You’ve done quite well in my case, I wonder why Cole is different?

  35. #35 |  Ken | 

    Excuse me, Mr. Frog? There’s a Mr. Scorpion holding on line two.

  36. #36 |  la Rana | 

    TomG about sums it up. Cole just couldn’t stay out of the partisan wilderness. Those few years in the middle he was genuinely funny and interesting, but he’s lost his goddamn mind again. I’m done.

  37. #37 |  MM | 

    I too would like to voice my concern for the foul language Mr. Cole uses, for I have parachuted into this internecine blogfight from 1940.

  38. #38 |  Mattocracy | 

    I think anyone who uses the term tea bagger should be punished by being tea bagged by the receiver of said insult. An eye for an eye, a sack for a dick.

  39. #39 |  SusanK | 

    Hmmmm. I guess I just don’t get it. Liberals/progressives/whatever. Are they just mad because people are “protesting” (their typical tactic) government actions because their party is in power?
    God forbid the dirty-granola-eating-hippies take a break from picketing to find that SUV-driving-Eddie-Bauer-wearing-yuppies have taken their place.

  40. #40 |  E.D. Kain | 

    Hey Radley. Thanks for the kind words.

  41. #41 |  Marty | 

    where dad lives (OFallon, MO), the city just started it’s own trash service- ran all the private companies off. I feel this is much worse than awarding a contract to a single company (which is bad enough). I wonder what would happen if a city tried to block fed ex because they awarded an ‘exclusive contract’ to ups? this absolutely disrupts innovation- a company that’s more recycling oriented may charge more, but would be offering a very legitimate service. Another company may specialize in large items. I like having multiple companies working, because I have a couple drivers on my speed dial, in case I need a special pickup at a rental property. These guys will really take care of you for $20 and it saves me a big headache.

    one of the things I’ve always thought would happen, hasn’t, as far as I can tell- I figured there’d be police raids based on what the trash collectors were finding.

  42. #42 |  Matt | 

    @37: There’s nothing wrong with profanity, but it’s no substitute for argument, you cocksucker. :-)

  43. #43 |  Thomas Paine's Goiter | 

    I have no idea what Balloon Juice is or why you keep writing about it.

  44. #44 |  freedomfan | 

    Rich Robinson, a state-enforced local monopoly is one where the government forces the citizens to do business with a single provider of products or services. That appears to be what’s going in this case, though I don’t know if individuals are prevented from paying extra for another provider to remove their trash, they are definitely forced to pay the one to whom the city has awarded the contract. It’s fair to point out that the contract was obtained via a process of competitive bidding in an open process (I don’t know that it really was, but let’s assume so) and that the contract is for a limited period of time. However, all contracts are for a limited period of time (the term “in perpetuity” comes up now and again, but that’s unenforceable) and the fact the government negotiated the contract openly doesn’t mean that the result isn’t still a local monopoly. A monopoly doesn’t have to come about in secret to be a monopoly.

    And i obviously agree that if a group of like-minded citizens would prefer to individually contract with trash collection providers, then they should aim to elect smililarly like-minded representives on the council to represent their interests.

    What that will sound like to many people is “If free people want to do something individually, they should first get the government to let them do it individually.” The grating presumption is that it’s the prerogative of a political body to take away an individual’s right to enter into his own contracts for products and services and that any individuals who disagree are out of luck if they can’t manipulate the political process to give them their freedom back.

    Of course, an argument can be made that there isn’t much freedom at stake here. I tend to agree that this isn’t earth-shattering, but these things have a way of becoming precedents. Why not have just one company deliver your newspaper? Why not just have one company with cell towers in your area? Why not just have one grocery store? And so on. The working assumption should be that something people have been doing for themselves up until now is not something the government needs to jump in and take over, either directly or by determining the terms of the service.

    Another case can be made that externalities can justify government restriction on people’s right to contract. However, in this case there isn’t really any evidence (that I saw in the article) that people weren’t adequately dealing with trash removal. They availed themselves of the services of the five companies that provided it and the trash was collected.

    And, of course, one could claim that, if the city’s new way of doing things doesn’t work out, those council members unwilling to change it will be voted out and all will be back to where it started. Unfortunately, those who pay attention to how these issues play out know that it seldom works that way. For one thing, the option of the city just getting out of the trash collection business (or the trash contract negotiation business) is unlikely to be high on the list of alternatives if people are dissatisfied with this system. Instead, the blame will be placed on the service provider (it will probably be called “the greedy corporation”) and the city will offer to enforce more oversight and regulation of how that provider (or the next one) does its job. (It will make perfect sense to people that the government must ride heard on these evil jerks, since people now have no way to choose another provider.) And, if someone proposes that the city just stay the heck out of the whole affair, people will scream that the city needs to be in charge because of public health concerns and so on, evoking images of rat-infested mountains of garbage on people’s lawns, forgetting that a short time ago people took care of this on their own and everything was fine.

    I don’t know what the overall leanings of this group in Arizona was, but I do agree with the notion one of them expressed that, “If it’s not broken, don’t let government try to fix it.” I would add that, if it is broken, don’t assume that 1) the government didn’t break it and 2) don’t assume that the government can fix it, even if it claims it can.

  45. #45 |  Pasquin | 

    How does one get balloon juice, anyway? Ew.

  46. #46 |  JOR | 

    Where game theory always (and I do mean always) fails is in assuming that people in real situations in the real world are playing the same “game” as exists in the theorist’s idealized model, or even that different “players” are playing the same game as each other.

    Radley doesn’t seem to be trying to get John Cole to shut up; it seems more like he’s just having fun fighting a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

  47. #47 |  Roberta X | 

    The most interesting thing to me is that soi-disant “Progressives,” whose nominal party still holds the Federal Executive, half of the Legislative Branch and most big-city governments, get so terribly bent out of shape over Libertarians, who even now comprise less than ten percent of the electorate.

    It seems disproportionate. Or are they better at recognizing a real threat to their fragile worldview than I’d thought?

  48. #48 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    We need a poll. Who comes across as a bigger douche responding to Radley’s posts? Cole or Patterico?

  49. #49 |  Kevin Carson | 

    A “progressive” who thinks local government is “small-d democracy in action” just because it’s local is an idjut, plain and simple. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a local government that wasn’t a showpiece property of the real estate developers.

  50. #50 |  Cyto | 

    #31 | Rich Robinson |

    Hi Rich!

    The thing you are missing in the government granted monopoly garbage service is the back room deals and corrupting flow of money that colloquially goes by “the good ol’ boys network”. Now, i see your point… and if a region had specific reasons to require a government based effort – such as insufficient population or low population density areas – I could see banding together to get government involved. But the more common case would involve somebody’s pal getting an exclusive contract when he couldn’t win the business without government intervention.

    In this case they are moving from 4 service providers to 1. This tells me that they did not suffer from insufficient population or population density to obtain quality service at a reasonable price. Having lived through a public takeover of garbage collection by big city government, I can tell you that it was nothing but a money and power grab by the city big-wigs. We gave up lots in the way of service, and had to pay more. But it’s OK, because we can vote them out. Oops, no we can’t. Because they get their support from city workers, union workers and “downtown area” politics. City workers like it when you make more city workers. Unions like it when you take non-union private sector jobs and turn them into public-sector union jobs. People who live in housing projects, apartment buildings, and condos downtown couldn’t care less about the changes in garbage service – it didn’t affect them much. People living in neighborhoods with houses did…. no more backyard pickup, no more 3 pickups a week, and private residencies get a nice surcharge. Oh, and we all had to go pick up smaller cans because that’s what the unions negotiated.

    See, that’s what happens when government gets involved in things that are not “governance”.

  51. #51 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » If The Gov’t Doesn’t Pick Up The Trash, It’s Rat-Infested Black Plague For Us All | 

    […] seems that Radley Balko has gone playing whack-the-left again, this time smacking around John Cole of Balloon Juice for an overreacting tirade against people who […]

  52. #52 |  Shekissesfrogs | 

    I agree with the idea that the gov. shouldn’t be giving monopolies. There are other, more creative ways to divide up the cities trash collection, perhaps by sector. Full monopolies based on a time period might put the other companies out of business.

    I’ve read over the links to BJ’s posts. On this subject or any other they’re always the same. Uncritical tribalism and short on critical thinking. The comment section is full of authoritarian followers that heckle and bully anyone that gets out of the box. The same type of thing happens at KOS.
    As a lefty/progressive I want to tell you that John Cole is nothing of the sort. He is a big D Democrat, and right-winged one at that. I believe that is why he reflexively supports unilateral Government decisions and enforcement action, and derides protest. That’s part and parcel of Authoritarian thinking. He merely has changed parties.

  53. #53 |  derfel cadarn | 

    The last time I had a private contractor for trash collection the cost was $ 12.00 per month. 12×12=$144.00 per year. When trash collection was contracted town wide the cost jumped to $600.00 per year I am certainly thankful that my local elected officials were looking out for my best interests. mr. Cole you are a traitor to the America I live in,it is small evils like this that are being used to undermine capitalism . IT will not work,we are watching and we are many. I hope you find that thought comforting mr Cole.

  54. #54 |  CK | 

    I went to a bar once that was very convenient to my dwelling, it was filled with folks I found uninteresting. I went a second time to make certain that my first visit was not a statistical anomaly.
    It wasn’t. I have not returned.

  55. #55 |  markm | 

    Thyrezene: “Do you go into McDonalds and make fun of the special kid mopping the floor? No? Then why the hell do you make fun of Cole (or read Balloon Juice at all)?”

    That special kid isn’t trying to tell me what to think, let alone encouraging voters to give up their – and my – freedom.

  56. #56 |  corprip | 

    It’s funny Cole thinks the Tea Party in Fountain Hills is somehow mutually exclusive with the “top 5%.” Fountain Hills is exactly where you would go to find some of Arizona’s top 5%.

  57. #57 |  Robert | 

    I find it hard to take a blog seriously when their chosen name is a euphemism for sperm.

  58. #58 |  David M. Nieporent | 

    Rhayader @32:

    The other thing is how the comment section is a big echo chamber. Because Cole’s tone veers between anger and mockery, it’s impossible for anybody to dissent without being run off.

  59. #59 |  David M. Nieporent | 


    Another case can be made that externalities can justify government restriction on people’s right to contract. However, in this case there isn’t really any evidence (that I saw in the article) that people weren’t adequately dealing with trash removal. They availed themselves of the services of the five companies that provided it and the trash was collected.

    Even if there were such evidence, it would seem to make more sense for the government to simply set a standard — e.g., you can’t have garbage pile up at your curb — and then let people satisfy it however they want, rather than prescribing a specific company everyone must use.

  60. #60 |  lunchstealer | 

    He also mocks me for taking 1,200 words to support my criticism of him with links, supporting arguments, and nuance. The horror.

    Shorter Cole: “Reading is for fags!”

  61. #61 |  Skip Robinson | 

    Hey Cole,
    Why don’t you come and help us protest our situation here in Lake Worth Florida. Our illustrious City gave a private company a monopoly over our electrical utility system in exchange for a 7% kickback to the City. The problem is we pay as high as 66%n greater electrical bills as our surrounding neighbors who are with Florida Power and Light. My light bill over the summer averaged $480.00 month and I’ve never had a light bill over $300 when FP&L was my provider. If you would read a little more Cole, you would understand what libertarian really is and and determine for yourself that when govrnment is involved, someone is going to get hosed to someone elses benefit.