1. Raleigh's Recycling Dogma
The City of Raleigh proudly reports the expansion of its
recycling program. As this report notes, "Raleigh residents will
soon be able to recycle more items with greater efficiency." However, in
this instance, the word "efficiency" is being thrown around by city
officials and reporters having little to no knowledge of its economic meaning. Economically
speaking, when something is "efficient," the costs are less than the
City officials report that recycling will increase 20 to 25
percent over the next few years and that the city will receive an additional
$340,000 for fiscal year 2012 from the contractor who recycles the city's
recyclable materials. That sounded pretty good to the reporter who failed to
ask the fundamental questions about the total costs of the program.
For example, how much does the city pay for the blue roller
carts and the new biweekly pick ups? Does the city calculate the cost of the
time spent by residents separating the household waste?
In order to discover whether or not the recycling program is
economically efficient, the total of these costs must be subtracted from the
amount received from the recycling contractor payments. If these costs are more
than the amount received, the program is not efficient.
City officials also claim that this recycling program will reduce the amount
of waste that is taken to the landfill. Without a true cost accounting,
residents will not know if the program is efficient. If the cost of landfilling the recyclable materials is actually less than the total recycling
program costs, the recycling is not efficient and is a waste of resources.
This article by economist Michael Munger explains how an efficient
recycling program actually works.
I recently participated in an efficient recycling program.
The recycler came to my house, collected the recyclable materials and paid me
$200. All I had to do was make a phone call and my Chevy with a blown engine
was recycled into a new car, a washing machine, or some other useful products.
2. More salary transparency, please!
The News &Observer reports here that the salaries of the
chief executives of the League of Municipalities and the County Commissioners
Association top $200,000. What is significant about this story is not the
salary levels, but the fact that both executives stonewalled the N&O, initially
refusing to disclose their salaries. Their claim? The associations are not
public agencies. Well,
if it walks like a duck...
Both executives participate in the public pension plan that
is backed by taxpayers and both agencies receive the bulk of their money from
local taxpayer funded dues payments.
Next time, officials who receive salary and benefits from
the taxpayers should admit it and come clean with their salaries, so the public
can decide if they are earning their money.
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