Sunday, March 11, 2012

A questionable bit of law

It is a sight that you have no doubt seen before.  Likely on multiple occasions.

It's garbage day and someone places a household item at their curb.  A sofa.  A refrigerator.  A pneumatic drill.  Or maybe that's just around here?
Someone in a pickup truck or another large vehicle comes along, stops, and picks it up for themselves.  An extension of this action began happening in my community last summer.

When I would take my dogs out for their morning walk in those wee hours before I go to the day job, I would see wanderers on garbage day.  They were Asian women of varying ages and they were always nice and polite.  They would go around to all of the recycling bins at the curbs and root through them.  Their quarry was almost always either aluminum cans or paper.  They'd take these items from the tall, blue recycling bins, stuff the pilfered goods into garbage bags and then move on, dragging the bags behind them like Santa Claus sacks.  Yes, I witnessed them doing this in my own recycling cans.  I didn't mind.  My dog Chewie was incensed and fully prepared to defend his territory, but I didn't mind.  I was throwing it out anyway, what do I care?   These women were no doubt trying to gain a bit of money during horrible economic times.  If I'm not using the material in question anymore, after all it is trash, why shouldn't they be able to gain from it?  "One man's junk..." and all that.

Come to find out that what they are doing is illegal in my municipality.  I learned this during my volunteer work with the local police department.  I surmised that our political leadership enacted the ordinance as a means of cutting down attempts at identity theft or just to generally keep potentially "shifty" types away from people's homes.

I was wrong.  In many ways, my assumption was the antipode of the reality.  It is illegal because anything that I or any other resident place into the blue, upright recycling cans immediately becomes property of the waste management service.  The paper and aluminum that is gleaned from these bins is then in turn sold by the recycling corporation.  This is on top of the money the corporation gets from the town to provide the pick-up service.  In other words, taking an empty Coke can from a recycling bin is technically theft.  Not theft from you, the one who threw it out.  Theft from the corporation and their potential bottom line.  This law was in no way enacted to protect my family or my home.  Regardless of what anyone says.  This law was imposed in order to protect a corporation's profit.  Those women who take the cans and paper away?  Or even those people who pick up the broken dressers and ugly-stained couches?  They're technically criminals and are subject to fine, maybe jail time depending on priors.  Book 'em, Dan-o.  Coke can one.

It doesn't surprise me.  This is merely a micro incident that is indicative of the macro picture.  This corporation already dictates to citizens what must be done to get their garbage picked up.  Whether or not you pay the garbage disposal fee to the municipality is in many ways irrelevant if the corporate regulations aren't followed.  Corporate rule above governmental.  Sounds like a Gibson novel.

Yep.  "Corporations are people, my friend." 
Thanks, Rmoney.  Have you ever read Les Miserables?

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