Because We Can Dictate Citizens Behaviour, We Must

The St. Louis County Council has voted along party lines to continue to compel residents in unincorporated areas to use a designated trash hauler with a new designated minimum level of service (once a week recycling pickup now mandatory). A councilman wanted to repeal the compulsion, but wiser totalitarians prevailed:

The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday rejected a measure to scrap a controversial plan to divide unincorporated areas into trash collection districts that would each be served by one waste hauler.

The vote at the council’s regular meeting followed two hours of fervent public comments at a special hearing Tuesday afternoon. In their arguments before the council, numerous county residents raised such diverse points as the need to preserve the free market economy and worries about the durability of asphalt.

The bill, proposed by Councilman John Campisi, R-south St. Louis County, would have removed the county’s authority to establish the trash districts. The contract for waste hauling in each district is to be awarded to the lowest bidder.

Campisi said that the districts were unpopular with his constituents and that he feared they would put small haulers out of business.

His bill failed 4-3 on a party line vote, with Democratic council members Kathleen Burkett, Hazel Erby, Barbara Fraser and Mike O’Mara voting against it and Republicans Greg Quinn and Colleen Wasinger joining Campisi in support of it.

You know, it used to be government made a set of commandments you shouldn’t break as laws. The thou shalt nots: Don’t murder anyone, don’t collect piles of disease- and rodent-bearing refuse on your property.

Then it became a bunch of laws designed to keep people out of circumstances where the citizens could possibly commit a thou shalt not: Thou shalt not have guns, thou shalt have weekly garbage pick up.

Now, it’s gone beyond that, removing even more choice by limiting the citizens’ behavior to well-conceived courses designated by the governments. The thou shalts: Thou shalt use Waste Management for your weekly mandatory garbage pickups and your weekly mandatory recycling garbage pickups. Thou shalt paint your house only in colors approved by the historical preservation committee. And so on.

Where does it end? It should have ended with the thou shalt nots; now, there’s no principle preventing the city and county councils from mandating any behavior for the good of the municipality.