Saturday, July 23, 2011

NHC Against Free Enterprise

A very good story here about our own county government trying to crowd out private trash collection.  As the story mentions, there are five private trash pickup companies in Ogden alone, and the guy being interviewed says he saves about $100 a year.  Pretty good if you ask me.

Of course, NHC county manager Bruce Schell says that he 'has no doubt' the county could save these people money if they just got one contractor to do it.

What does the actual data say?

Mackinac Center:
The largest study ever conducted on outsourced garbage collection, conducted by the federal government in the 1970s, reported 29 to 37 percent savings in cities with populations over 50,000. A 1994 study by the Reason Foundation discovered that the city of Los Angeles was paying about 30 percent more for garbage collection than its surrounding suburbs, in which private waste haulers were employed. A 1982 study of city garbage collection in Canada discovered an astonishing 50 percent average savings as a result of privatization.

[...][B]ulk pick-up — garbage consisting of large and odd-sized items such as mattresses and refrigerators — used to cost the city an additional $400,000 annually. Why? Because city public works employees would pick up only small and regular sized trash during normal working hours and return on overtime to collect bulk items.

[...]Another example of the power of privatizing garbage collection took place in Indianapolis in 1993. The city divided itself into 11 waste collection districts and contracted with several private firms for collection. But it also allowed the city's already-in-place waste hauling service to bid for contracts against the private firms. In fulfilling its contract, the city agency outperformed its own bid, saving $2.1 million more than it had originally believed would be needed to do the job. As a reward, each employee got a cash bonus of more than $1,700. Citywide, Indianapolis residents had to pay less than $9.00 per month per household for the service.

[...]According to the International City/County Management Association, which surveys local governments about how they conduct a variety of services every year, in 1997 U.S. municipalities contracted with private firms to dispose of solid-waste 67 percent more often than they did a decade earlier.
Now, I realize that NHC is actually talking about something different.  They're talking about going from free enterprise to a kind of government-managed capitalism, while the Mackinac article is essentially talking about going a state owned service (ie socialism) to government-managed capitalism.  The point is that NHC is talking about going from a state of being more free economically to less free.  I can see no benefits of going from a state of being more free to a state of being less free.

If people want to get a better rate from a private company, they can voluntarily join together and try to get a better rate from a company.  They don't need the county to lock them all together in a one year contract or whatever it may be.

But the real thing that interests me about this, being a candidate for city council, is that we here in the city are not even nearly as free as those in the county!  We are providing this service ourselves instead of letting it be competitively contracted.  This is something we need to look into as soon as possible.

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