When it comes to trash and emissions, how can we rely on the free market?

It is very common these days, when I am out riding my bicycle to see old TVs, fridges, mattresses, etc., littering the side of the road. It’s everywhere. Typically on less travelled roads, roads where a city or county doesn’t regularly have cleanups, and the trash just sits there for months if not close to a year. And if any of you ride long distances, the sight of this trash provides you with a lot of time to think about the issues that face humanity – given it’s bad habits.

Frequently, I wonder how we can NOT have laws against these type of things and merely rely on the “free market” to handle the issue. This, in my opinion, is one of the big drawbacks of the tenets of libertarianism. Enough people are selfish; greedy; and they just don’t do the right thing if there isn’t a law to compel them to. (Sort of like the argument god-fearing people use to attack secular/atheist movements: “Without God, why would anyone do the right thing?”).

Think about it. The person dumping their old TV on the side of a country road, decided that as long as the TV wasn’t littering his/her property, it could easily be out on the side of a road. The fridge I see down in a creek was thrown out there by someone who either was paid to haul it (and do it right) or by an owner that decided that spending money to take it to a free recycling center or to a paid disposal site was too costly.

So what should be done? Should we force everyone to have trash removal service, and either pay for it or have our taxes pay for it?

Of course, the next issue is, once we get it to a sanctioned disposal center, what do we do with it next?

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~ by mz on November 10, 2008.

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