Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Usually, when businesses "go green", at least the particular assaults on freedom they're trying to "exploit" for good publicity damage themselves the most. But here's an example from Down Under of a business employing slick new technology to make itself look concerned for Mother Earth -- technology which could easily be turned around to demolish a nice chunk of the individual freedom now enjoyed by private citizens.
Tucked away under the rim of wheelie bins found in two Sydney councils are small radio frequency tracking devices collecting information on a household's waste habits.The data are, so far, being kept between council officials and their contractors, but the predictable whining of green busybodies who want this turned into a tool for the enforcement of nonobjective law has already begun.
Randwick Mayor Bruce Notley-Smith told The World Today they are the way of the future.
"We will be able to find out the weights of the various bins and collect the data, the entire amount, as opposed to the quantity that is recyclable," he said.
The garbage truck reads the data on the bin, weighs the bin, and the data is collated on a computer.
"We've aimed to increase or target problem areas in the city where there's a lower level of recycling," Mr Notley-Smith said.
"The fact is that 50 per cent of the city of Randwick is multi-unit dwellings and we have faced a number of challenges there with getting compliance with recycling."
The data collected will allow the council to confirm which areas are recycling and which are not. [format edits, bold added]
(I am unclear whether the term "council" here is being used to denote a unit of local government or an apartment complex or, if the latter, whether it is privately-run. The answer to that question has more to say about the status of freedom in Australia than the impropriety of the government monitoring garbage cans for compliance with recycling laws.)
It is bad enough that we're reaching the point where we can't toss out an aluminum can without facing the prospect of a fine. The end for which we face this prospect is even worse, however.
Recycling makes economic sense only when it costs less to recover the materials from waste than to obtain them from raw materials. For the kinds of materials most municipalities try to force us to recycle, doing so is a waste of time and effort. (And even if it weren't, the government has no business dictating how we spend our own time or dispose of our own property, so long as we violate the rights of nobody else in the process.)
Time is irreplaceable. To the extent that the government holds a gun to our heads and makes us recycle, it is effectively forcing us to send irreplaceable moments from our lives to the landfill in lieu of the junk that properly belongs there.
Who knew that high technology, low meddling, and widespread ignorance of the proper purpose of government could come together to make us discard time from our lives as if it were refuse?