Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scrap Metal and Basic Capitalism

Yesterday I made a trip to the county dump, excuse me, the Acceptance Facility to get rid of a deceased armchair (children are hell on furniture) and some other junk. This process has gotten a lot more complicated over the past decade because the county now has rules about what has to be taken where. For example, the facility closest to me (there are three) does not take "metal." By this they mean any piece of more or less pure metal that might be salable as scrap, viz., I once saw them reject a bicycle frame. But should you have rejected pieces of metal, fear not! You don't actually have to drive to the other end of the county to get rid of it. Because parked along the road outside the facility is always at least one truck with a sign on it reading "METAL." These small scrap scavengers will happily take whatever you have that the county has rejected, saving you the trouble of a long drive. And then pose for a picture so you can document how businesses spring up in the gaps left by government services in the US just as everywhere else in the world

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

If only we could have any guarantee whatsoever that these businesses aren't working to the detriment of society.

If the government were to provide a proper service, it could be made transparent, scrutinized by the public, held to certain standards, and made efficient and beneficial through organized centralization and quality control.

But in the absence of such government service, we're left with a gaggle of random and disparate private entities whom are far more difficult to hold accountable, and far more likely to engage in and get away with damaging behaviors and practices, whether out of incompetance or simple greed and malice.

The same financial ambition which inspires a person to fill in the cracks of society and government, also frequently inspires them to cut corners and exploit others. Scrap metal has to be industrially processed to be of any real value, and there are safe and responsible ways to do that, and then there are also dangerous yet cheaper ways to do it too. And it is not remotely uncommon for private parties to care far more about increasing their profit margins than about ensuring they do not cause harm to others. And thus the government fails to protect the citizens for whom it ostensibly exists.

We could do so much better. There are countries in the world with far more rational and effective trash and recycling systems than our own. But instead of spending our taxes on making improvements to these and other sorts of social systems, we continually and repeatedly choose to funnel ever more money into making bombs, bullets, and corpses, and into making the rich ever richer.