My previous post on garbage in the city has drawn a surprisingly large number of comments. So here are more of my thoughts on the issue.
Forced conservation is a dumb idea. As has been pointed out by many commenters, one’s time is also a valuable resource, so forcing people to place their trash in different receptacles wastes a huge amount of society’s scarce resources.
If there were a free market solution, then I’d be in favor of it. If the recyclers were going to pay for the recycled goods, and people wanted to put in the extra effort to make some extra money, then I’d be all in favor. But how one spends one’s own time should be a personal decision, and not one forced upon you by the government. Slavery was outlawed 1865, but liberal do-gooders want to bring it back.
The free market is the best way to allocate the values of various resources. The fact that there is no economic incentive to recycle unless government forces it is ample proof that it doesn’t make sense, and there is a heavy burden of proof upon the pro-recycling people to justify their position.
Now I actually do agree with the theory that we are using up our bounty of resources. It’s a simple mathematical fact. The population of the world keeps increasing but the amount of resources that came with the world are finite. I believe that when people far in the future look back in history, the 20th century will be seen as a golden age of man in which resources were abundant. During the current century we are going to hit the limits of Mother Earth to keep giving us more natural resources.
However, once again, I don’t see how recycling or conservation can really stop the inevitable. Only cutting down on population growth can do that, but the human race seems dead set on having more children. The only thing conservation and recycling might accomplish is to set ahead some date by a few years, such as the date that a certain resource runs out will be extended from 2103 to 2112. But whatever the exact date is, mankind will eventually have to deal with the resource running out so in the end it really makes no difference.