December 19, 2009

In Madison, we are now required to recycle plastic bags... assuming they are clean... and there's no plan to, you know, actually enforce the requirement.

City recycling coordinator George Dreckmann "stressed that the city had no intention of enforcing the law, saying the city would focus instead on encouraging residents to comply."
"I think the idea behind making it a mandate was to raise the awareness and to get people to do it," Dreckmann said. He pointed to the city law mandating residents put recyclables in green curbside containers -- for which the city has never issued a ticket -- as a model for how the department will carry out the new program.
So if you were thinking of keeping a little jar of mud on the counter to pre-dirty your plastic bags so you're still allowed to toss them in the trash, it's quite unnecessary. Here in Madison, power is wielded not with fines, though fines are threatened. It is applied directly to you subservient conscience. You could smudge your bags and throw them away, but the law can smudge your brain with a guilt that never ends. If you've got that kind of brain, and you know you do, you Madisonians.

(And, by the way, isn't Dreckmann a great name for a trash guy?)
Brandon Scholz, president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Grocers Association and an early critic of the program, said Thursday the program was an ineffective use of city resources because many private companies in the city already offer the same service. He also predicted the city's outdoor bins would be hard to keep clean and difficult to monitor for misuse.

"I think when you have these bins out in parking lots or who knows where ... they're going to become trash bins," he said. "It's a feel-good (program), that's what it is."
Ah, the tawdry little things we do to make ourselves feel good up here in Wisconsin.
Ald. Judy Compton, 16th District, who co-authored the law, called the program "a good step in the right direction" but said it still needs to "evolve." She said the city's goal should be to see 90 percent of residents recycling their bags. Current estimates put the level of participation in existing programs below 10 percent, she said....
Compton also questioned the effectiveness of store bag-recycling programs, questioning whether all the bags get recycled. She did not discourage residents from recycling their bags at stores but said with the city's program people would know where their bags were going.
Private recycling programs weren't good enough because the city wants to monitor our compliance. If there are all sorts of different recycling bins, placed where shopkeepers want them, how will the people — AKA the government — know if the mandate is boosting our bag-related virtue over the 10% level? The unenforced mandate, mind you. Now, not only will the people know how many bags are recycled, the people will know how much the mere idea of being supposed to do something produces the intended result. Think there will be a decline from the current 10%? You don't know Madison.

78 comments:

chuck b. said...

In San Francisco we can get ticketed for putting food waste in the garbage can. It should all go in the green-waste can. They assure us instead of tickets we'll just get warnings. I'm inclined to believe them because of all the other things that are illegal but never enforced, like no smoking in public parks, no dogs off leash, et cetera. I'm not sure why they bother except to suppose that it makes everybody feel good about to pretend that they're really serious.

vbspurs said...

"stressed that the city had no intention of enforcing the law, saying the city would focus instead on encouraging residents to comply."

Laws are never enforced, until they are. When laws get made merely to make a statement, and not because they are imperative for the welfare of the community, it allows tyranny to exist when someone finally gets around to enforcing it.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

I'm not sure why they bother except to suppose that it makes everybody feel good about to pretend that they're really serious.

That's the entire thought process of the Left, Chuck.

rhhardin said...

How do you tell a resource from trash?

They pay you for a resource.

Podcast Mike Munger.

Many of the Munger podcasts over there are exceptionally entertaining.

garage mahal said...

The left think they are smarter than you. The government never did a damn thing right. The left wants to take your money.

rinse, lather, and repeat.

traditionalguy said...

We are from the government and we are here to help! The only jobs program that is permitted under the Obameconomy is government work regulating all those clingers to religion, guns, and life free from idiots. The Seat Belt laws were passed with strict promises never to enforce them with tickets, and 10 years later the exit ramps were staked out by motocycle cops there only to ticket beltless drivers. The safety first guys ideas are now to add $200 more to speeding tickets fines that are more than 15 mph over the limit. The government is in reality an evil predator that eats MONEY that comes from down and out "guilty people". Not that there is anything wrong with sponsoring a predator attacking guilty people for our entertainment and money for police salaries and benefits. The truth is that it has become a corrupt bunch of thieves that now in the big leagues is setting its sights on Guilty CO2 producers for its voracious diet of money.

Palladian said...

Just plain bullshit.

Ricardo said...

I think you need a whole post about our suggestions for feel-good laws. Oops, maybe this "is" your post. So my suggestion would be to enact a law saying that nobody is allowed to drive a car for a distance under one mile. If you're going one mile or less you have to walk (or ski, or something). The purpose for the law is to (1) save gas, and (2) encourage fitness. Of course, this law would never be enforced, but that's why it's a feel-good law.

Robert said...

Don't any of these people realize that we need plastic bags from the supermarket to pick up our dog poo and comply with their pet waste laws?

You want to get rid of plastic bags? Let people leave their dog poop on the sidewalk.

Fr Martin Fox said...

This is smiley-face fascism and it utterly boggles my mind that any serious, self-described liberal--that is, any who claim to care about government abusing its power--can be sanguine about this.

Why do I say that? Try a thought experiment: suppose such a law were enacted, not in support of a piety you care about, but someone else's piety.

Suppose some jurisdiction enacted a law making abortion illegal--and then said, "oh, we don't intend to have any penalties, this is just to create awareness, so people will change behavior 'voluntarily' on their own..." Choice is still preserved...right? It's not coercive...right?

Palladian said...

Seriously, watch that episode of "Bullshit" I linked above.

The only thing worth recycling is metal.

class-factotum said...

The trash guys dumped my yard waste out of the trash can onto the ground. Wouldn't take it. Because in Wisconsin, it's ILLEGAL to put yard waste in the trash. What did I know? I moved here from Tennessee, where the definition of "trash" is "anything I want to put in the trash can."

I don't trust that they won't fine you.

vbspurs said...

Seriously, watch that episode of "Bullshit" I linked above.

I clicked on it, originally, but didn't watch because I had a really bad encounter with that Penn Jillette guy once. He's rude and nasty -- I don't confuse his public persona with his private one, but I tend not to want to listen much to people who are that offensive, even in passing.

Still, for you, I'll watch it.

Palladian said...

"I clicked on it, originally, but didn't watch because I had a really bad encounter with that Penn Jillette guy once. He's rude and nasty -- I don't confuse his public persona with his private one, but I tend not to want to listen much to people who are that offensive, even in passing."

He's rude and nasty in public too. It's good for the show.

TMink said...

Palladian, great link. Thanks.

Two questions leap to mind.

Is there a group of people on earth who understand less about human nature than progressives?

And remember when liberals were about freedom?

Trey

TMink said...

Just because he is rude and nasty does not mean he is wrong.

It reminds me of Groucho complaining that he could not insult anyone because they would always think it was his schtick and laugh.

Trey

vbspurs said...

Check out the crazy sling baby burka the recycling chick is wearing.

So far, I like it. They referenced the Crying Indian, who I remember! But really the lady said everything one needs to know about why we recycle.

Recycling: It makes you feel good about yourself as a person.

vbspurs said...

It reminds me of Groucho complaining that he could not insult anyone because they would always think it was his schtick and laugh.

I wonder if Groucho would've been given the Michael Richards' treatment today, if he insulted blacks.

kentuckyliz said...

There's a nutty lady locally who wants everybody to recycle everything.

Our county is enlightened--no curbside pick-up (waste of gas and taxpayer money and puts more vehicle fumes into the atmosphere)--you have to take your recycling to big dumpster bins. And they will only collect what they can sell to a buyer who wants it.

It was weird getting used to throwing out glass again, once we lost our glass buyer.

It's incredibly inefficient to have multiple trash collection programs for trash. Recycle only things that have a market.

bearbee said...

(And, by the way, isn't Dreckmann a great name for a trash guy?)

A name more fitting to all Washington critters:

President Dreckmann
Vice President Dreckmann

Senate Majority Leader Dreckmann
Senator Minority Leader Dreckmann
Senator Dreckmann1
Senator Dreckmann2
etc
etc

Speaker Dreckmann
House Majority Leader Dreckmann
House Minority Leader Dreckmann
Congressperson Dreckmann 1
Congressperson Dreckmann 2
etc
etc

The double 'n' gives the name distinction.

One big disfunctional family.

WV: ledope - French for congresscritter

vbspurs said...

That was an incredible video, Palladian, especially the "Youv'e been recycle punked" segment.

Just goes to show that when official-looking people show up with uniforms and especially the-backup-QB- clipboard in hand, people will bend down to pick up "lightly soiled toilet paper" and feminine napkins all day long. And then they think it's a GOOD thing.

Of course, now I will do some research on my own to see if Penn & Teller's exposé stands up to the evidence presented, because I don't trust anyone's facts, not even people who agree with me.

Cheers,
Victoria

EDH said...

It sounds like the Madison city government also recycles a fair number of douche bags.

Palladian said...

"Of course, now I will do some research on my own to see if Penn & Teller's exposé stands up to the evidence presented, because I don't trust anyone's facts, not even people who agree with me."

A good philosophy. The best proof of what they say is that people who pick through trash only care about cans and some glass bottles because those are the only things that are actually valuable to recycle, and the only things that are reliably recycled unlike the about 60% of stuff that is picked up as recyclable and ends up in landfills.

Almost nothing the government has to force people do to is ever good, useful, practical, or necessary.

Methadras said...

What's to say? Leftists are the dumbest people on earth. They prove it daily.

rhhardin said...

One feminine napkin lasts a month used as a bicycle helmet sweat pad.

Titus said...

Just do it Mary and stop complaining.

Would you rather live in Biloxi?

HT said...

cans and some glass bottles because those are the only things that are actually valuable to recycle, and the only things that are reliably recycled unlike the about 60% of stuff that is picked up as recyclable and ends up in landfills.

Yes. Many plastics are recyclable but a minority, I think. Plastics 5, 6, 7 are burned for fuel (in Asia). I can't know for sure if 60% of the stuff put in recycle bins is not recyclable. Who can? But it does raise questions about plastics.

nina said...

In Sweden, laws against spanking your kid (an ineffective punishment strategy) were introduced several decades ago for educational reasons. No enforcement, merely publication and publicity. Within a half dozen years, most came to understand that spanking was senseless and dehumanizing.

Now, I'm not commenting on recycling here. I'm just saying that laws that educate actually wind up educating.

Of course, we are much more protective of the individual right of a parent to whip, spank or beat their kid. So we wind up with abused kids and plastic bag litter -- just look up at the trees that grow in Brooklyn, on a winter day when the leaves are off: full of plastic bags.

Enjoy.

Titus said...

My parents are represented by the same politicians as Althouse.

Feingold and Baldwin.

How fabulous is that.

My parents actually like Tammy too.

She did an Alzheimers Meeting and they were satisfied.

Moose said...

This is like when communities were passing laws declaring themselves "nuclear free zones". It's the same level of self congratulatory bullshit...

DaveW said...

I recycle a lot of stuff but supermarket bags get used as small trash bags in our house in the bath, both offices, bedrooms, etc.

HT said...

Thank you for that "but" Dave W. I can't tell you how many people call using a plastic bag for trash or dog s "recycling."

Alex said...

garage said:

The left think they are smarter than you. The government never did a damn thing right. The left wants to take your money.

rinse, lather, and repeat.


Garage it must be nice to live in that reality-free bubble where all you do is snark at conservatives all day long.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

"Now, I'm not commenting on recycling here. I'm just saying that laws that educate actually wind up educating."

I don't want to be "educated" by the government, thank you.

Palladian said...

Alex it must be nice to live in that ethically-free bubble where all you do is troll the Althouse blog all day long.

alphageek said...

I think Penn and Teller got it right:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC3CZBDz7Wg

HT said...

At least they admit they're assholes.

But I wonder if they think that there's a problem, or if they figure it's just easier to taunt those who want to recycle.

kentuckyliz said...

Laws against spanking?

Good way to create a generation of monsters.

Some kids need a good whap.

EDH said...

The best proof of what they say is that people who pick through trash only care about cans and some glass bottles because those are the only things that are actually valuable to recycle...

And that's almost entirely because the government creates an artificial demand in the form of mandatory refundable bottle deposits.

kentuckyliz said...

I recycle those things for which we have a buyer, even making it an additional errand to take my stuff to the collection point. Paper, cardboard, metal.

I don't make fun of people who want to recycle. I will point and laugh at people who want to feel like they're recycling when the stuff is just being taken to the local landfill like the regular trash.

It takes extra county employees, trucks, gas, time, and CO2 to have extra, unnecessary trash collection and removal routines posing as recycling.

Idiots. They're harming the earth.

sutton_alex said...

That's a stupid law, but the question remains: Why do bureaucrats get to decide which laws to enforce. Elected bodies are supposed to make policies which municipal staffs are supposed to carry out.

Why have an elected body make policy if employees have no intention of implementing the policy? In the last analysis, who is really making policy, here.

BJM said...

Plastic bags in Madison?

I am shocked, shocked to hear that plastic bag usage hasn't already been banned.

You think this is silly, you should live in Berkeley.

HT said...

Right, it's stupid to think that putting out extra cartons on the street solves the recycling problem. There's a definite lack of follow through, enforcement, and thoughtfulness about solutions.

No argument from me.

I think part of the solution is to not generate so much waste in the first place.

Cedarford said...

A local scandal - It was revealed that our "recycling center" was sending all the newspapers and plastics to the local trash-to-energy plant because there was absolutely no market for it. Glass was being taken by a company, given free, PLUS TIPPING FEES - so they could crush it all up and dump it in landfills..with "research continuing" on other apps for glass.
All the metal was recycled.

Now, on plastics....each plastic bag is a miniscule amount compared to other plastic materials going into trash. A water bottle = 45 plastic bags, plastic in an obsolete TV or a scrapped computer monitor 890 plastic bags, a worn-out parka 295 plastic bag equivalent, a clamshell container for salad, etc 8-15 plastic bags worth...and so on.
You burn it, and the fire doesn't care...it just sees oil carbon chains..And is burned with little pollution (aside from those pesky bromine, flourine, and chloride adders) or ash residue..

The collective efforts of a whole ernest and deluded high school, burning gas to collect, store, and transport their "PC bags of recycling goodness" of perhaps one barrel of oil equivalent of plastic bags every month or two...vs. 20-25 barrels burned collecting it (which allows environmentally correct kids to recycle and socialize with other young noble stewards of the Planet...but doesn't make any electricity.
So now the plastic bags we have just go out in the trash with all the other petroleum based junk - old sneakers, old CDs, poly something socks, water & soda bottles, food packages, etc. And the local power plant furnace loves it all!

==============
vbspurs - Laws are never enforced, until they are. When laws get made merely to make a statement, and not because they are imperative for the welfare of the community, it allows tyranny to exist when someone finally gets around to enforcing it.

Some of the most oppressive laws start out as well-intentioned, cautionary things the people are assured will not be strictly enforced...just "helpful reminder laws that will at best merit a caution from the friendly cop or Gov't bureaucrat...then gradually or suddenly hit the citizenry with full force.
Seat belt laws, zero tolerance of plastic picnic knives and forks being brought in at school, deadly peanuts at school, a hysterical female prosecutor/politician demanding cops act as nati-fireworks Gestapo so the "just one little child can be saved from injury". Sensible zoning and firecode laws magically morphing into incredibly onerous and inflexible law with hefty fines that drive business away.

vbspurs is right in that tyranny can come creeping in...and not necessarily only by an Army with guns conquering and issuing decrees. All too much..tyranny comes from those with the power to create the laws they please screaming at the masses to worship Rule of Law!

Palladian said...

"I think part of the solution is to not generate so much waste in the first place."

Bingo! Except that's not just part of the solution, that's the solution. America was traditionally a land of frugality, where people didn't waste anything. And I'm talking about a time before anyone knew or cared who the fuck "gaia" was or about the welfare of a bunny in a forest somewhere. I wish we would return to some of the values of those days, not because it's "morally correct" or because it makes us "feel better", but because I believe that frugality and ingenuity makes people stronger, wiser and more self-sufficient. But that is people's choice and shouldn't be legislated.

BJM said...

@rhhardin

Your comment brings Grandmother's warning about wearing tidy, clean underwear in case of accident to mind.

traditionalguy said...

Recycling serves such a feel good need for the vaguely guilty all of the time types, we ought not fight them on it.Let's spend all your energy fighting against the "CO2 is pollution assumption" these goodie goodies are likely to fall for next.

Titus said...

BTW-Madison is not some liberal fabulous part of the country.

Yes maybe between The Capitol and The Campus.

But the rest of the city sucks. Totally red state.

Titus said...

I went to Boutique Fabulous, "where fabulous people shop", in Inman Square and got some delish Christmas presents for friends and family.

Titus said...

We may be getting a big storm out here.

I am very excited.

I would also like to see patriotic, republican, tough on terror tits on this website.

Now flash us gals.

HT said...

where are you?

Palladian said...

"where are you?"

Generally deep up his own ass.

Titus said...

Oh Palladian I love you too.

Face it we are in love.

Palladian said...

My Dominican boyfriend would like to beat the loaf out of you.

Titus said...

You have a domincian boyfriend. I have a British/Indian Boyfriend.

We are so UN.

Lots of uncut hog between the two of us.

Now whip out your dick.

Titus said...

Lets stop pretending Palladian.

Take me. I'm yours, but I beg of you be gentle.

kentuckyliz said...

Brown sugar
How come you dance so good

John said...

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers."

Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged.

If you haven't read it, read it now. If you have, read it again. Then go out and vote every incumbent from city to federal out of office.

John Henry

Big Mike said...

The point of these nuisance laws is to have them around in case somebody steps out of line and needs to be slapped down.

Like, perhaps, some uppity Con Law professor at the university.

The Crack Emcee said...

See, here's what I don't get:

How we can know - absolutely - that recycling is garbage, "a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources", but somehow people, and governments, keep insisting on making the citizens doing it.

Can there be a better metaphor for why we're going broke? Or, as The New York Times put it:

"The citizens of the richest society in the history of the planet suddenly became obsessed with personally handling their own waste."

Wasting (as in killing) their own country is more like it.

vbspurs said...

In Sweden, laws against spanking your kid (an ineffective punishment strategy) were introduced several decades ago for educational reasons. No enforcement, merely publication and publicity. Within a half dozen years, most came to understand that spanking was senseless and dehumanizing.

That could also be the reason why Norwegians (and Swedes) are known as incredibly entitled arrogant children, boorish and lazy.

Cheers,
Victoria

The Crack Emcee said...

And - Hey, Chuck B - that would be San Francisco, "the worst run big city in America", right?

Yea, they know what's going on.

Note to Ann:

Check out that link. It's an expose that's so crazy bloggers everywhere should be commenting on it. I gave it one already. I think you should too. It needs further exposure.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Just because he is rude and nasty does not mean he is wrong."

Ahem. *cough, cough* Um, yea.

Maybe my blog should take up magic, huh?

By the way, that New York Times article I linked to, above, is where Penn & Teller got their info for that Bullshit segment.

The Crack Emcee said...

"There's no way to rule innocent men."

Hey, I resemble that statement!!!

bagoh20 said...

"It's a feel-good (program), that's what it is."

Well, it's not working on me. It makes me angry. I get very angry at my government when they do... well anything. They just never do it right even when it's worth doing.

It's feel bad program that's what it is.

Anarchy is looking better all the time. Besides, the black outfits are very slimming.

Methadras said...

Titus said...

I went to Boutique Fabulous, "where fabulous people shop", in Inman Square and got some delish Christmas presents for friends and family.


What would that be? Prank doody with your name on it? or would that be redundant?

Fen said...

I'm glad people are recycling stuff, cause I'm not wasting time on that nonsense.

I'm off to roast some tires in my firepit. So you guys should prob work harder and faster collecting plastic bags.

bearbee said...

In Sweden, laws against spanking your kid (an ineffective punishment strategy) were introduced several decades ago for educational reasons. No enforcement, merely publication and publicity. Within a half dozen years, most came to understand that spanking was senseless and dehumanizing.

That could also be the reason why Norwegians (and Swedes) are known as incredibly entitled arrogant children, boorish and lazy.


Seems a variance of opinion on the efficacy of the law.

Also interesting why Sweden saw the need for such a law.

1
2

TMink said...

Interesting articles bearbee. A nice contrast between fact and theory, reality and wish. It surprises me that opinion fluff like the second one merits any serious consideration, but this is the type that most often gets quoted.

Trey

Pogo said...

Laws like these guarantee violence, as that is the only response remaining to a cornered human.

former law student said...

Does the professor advocate establishing a garbage police dept to issue fines? People should recycle plastic bags because it took energy to make them out of oil.

For everyone else: Why devote valuable real estate to cemeteries for garbage? Yard waste can become water and nutrient saving compost in six weeks -- so why preserve it for eternity in a "landfill"?

Waste as we know it now was unknown to my grandparents and all my ancestors before them -- we can't take one blip on the curve (1972) and project it as the natural way we were meant to live.

Original Mike said...

Dreckmann said the city didn't have an estimate for how many residents would start recycling their bags.

You have to take the bags to some drop off site in a parking lot somewhere?

I have an estimate. 4%.

I have an odd response to this. Embarrassment. Embarrassment to be governed by such ineffectual fools.

Original Mike said...

I use the plastic bags from the grocery store to collect and then discard smelly trash like fish skin, packaging that held fish and meat, etc.

Now I'm an outlaw.

Christ.

vbspurs said...

Interesting articles, Bearbee, thanks. The phrase "dare to be parents" made me wince. I have never been spanked or smacked -- and should I have a child, I wouldn't do it to them. But having a law to prevent doing so would be impossible in America, for one, because the black community rely very heavily on physical punishment for their kids. And I fancy, in America, Child Services WOULD actually enforce the law, and send people to prison or fine them.

Cheers,
Victoria

Sigivald said...

If I were forced to live in Madison, at this rate, I'd go out of town to get more bags specifically to throw them away.

These people want to control behaviors the worst despots of antiquity would never have dreamed of controlling (relative to the available options, of course - Draco never had the chance to order people to recycle a plastic bag...).

ChrisA said...

Well, Boulder can't be far behind.

mavzoley said...

мультфильм
электронная почта без регистрации