Dining with Uber Libs: The Missing Trash Caper

I love to talk politics with my brothers over breakfast, or lunch. Some days I let them vent about big government getting bigger and when they’re done I reiterate that liberalism is to blame then move in for the kill shot; people have grown used to the status quo and know not how to be rid of it. In fact, liberalism permeates everything in their lives and the attitude is of great disgust and anger but like our issues with Congress stateside, hardly anyone seems to be listening anymore.

As I used to hear my parents when I was little, every time something went wrong in the country they complained about the government’s inability to do anything right, yet first words out of their mouths were:

“Why isn’t the government doing something about it?”

Precisely my point.

As we dined on eggs and coffee I glanced at the local newspaper’s headline:

“Fewer places for garbage disposal: The closure of five more landfills worsens the old public health issue”

Puerto Rico has a huge problem with trash. I couldn’t resist reading this story. The solid waste authority director admitted that the agency has been unable to track incoming trash deliveries to the remaining 24 landfills on the island, some which are slated for closure sometime in 2010. The scary thing is that for many years this island territory had many landfills and incineration plants to handle trash management however that ended when the EPA conducted surveys of the landfills in major municipalities and found that they were in violation of federal and state environmental laws in 2007 to add to the growing list of landfills closed since (totaling 34) 1994. Though the EPA is aware that it is a state or in this case, the commonwealth’s responsibility to handle the matter, they stepped in to help just the same.

Well, having addressed the problems that led to the closure of the landfills, naturally we’re to expect the EPA had viable plans for saving this tropical paradise environment, right? It’s 2009 and the number of compliant landfills continues to shrink (five sites are to shut down sometime before spring 2010) where does the garbage go? According to this agency, numerous calls have been placed to mayors in an effort to track how they handle their garbage but to no avail. The garbage probably gets shipped to some other municipality making the problem even worse. There is much talk about the closure of incineration and recycling plants because materials have to be imported, making the cost of recycling too high and the need to introduce more private businesses to do the job. Alternative fuels, waste-to-energy initiatives may be the government’s targets here, which is cause for concern to both towns and private companies currently managing landfills. There are many promises and big ideas floating about yet no solution. Ultimately, is it about solving a serious public health issue, pandering to the environmentalists who turn down traditional trash management to prevent pollution and protect special interests?

A waste management CEO remarked that closing these landfills only feeds the dire economic situation within those municipalities hosting them by going against contractual agreements. A ton of trash transported from north to south of the island costs about $93 a load, further increasing the economic burden on these towns. Naturally, the trash has to go someplace and costs passed on to the tax-payers but this type of practice only encourages the proliferation of illegal dumping plain and simple. He did volunteer that waste-to-energy plants would benefit from the landfill closures.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when private industry gets in bed with the government, then it becomes government.

The government here claims it is working on other options to recycle the trash but without the appropriate infrastructure that is a mute point. The director of the trash management agency said something though that reminded me of things too common right now stateside:

In Puerto Rico each person on average generates five pounds of trash a day for a total of 4 tons of trash yearly.

The government can’t go it alone she stated. There must be a conscious effort of the public to reduce their consumption of goods and help by generating less trash.”

Ah ha! So that’s the problem, if people didn’t produce so much garbage, then government would be able to track where it goes and handle its disposal. I knew there was a catch somewhere in there.

I read the quote out loud to my other brother, who can eat like it’s nobody’s business.

“Did you hear that? You have to start eating less. You put out too much garbage.”

He grinned as he continued to eat.

Look around your hometowns folks and see if anything like this is happening. You’ll be amazed how prevalent this stuff is in America. It’s only more evident that government involvement in our lives is strong and growing if it is not detected and stopped.



Series on life and politics in P.R.:

Dining with Uber Libs: Surviving in hostile territory


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