Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm Only Happy When It Rains

As much as I adore the Emerald City and the bluest skies I've ever seen, Seattle sure is First Among Nations when it comes to petty meddling in constituents' affairs.

From NPR via Mrs. JR, Seattle garbage cops will rifle through your curbside rubbish and fine you for not... get this... composting.

It would be tedious of me to review the economic difference between a resource and waste, so I won't. But I will ask what moral intuition prompts this sort of thing. Am I missing some sort of uncompensated externality here? You pay sanitation services to haul off your refuse. So long as it's not something that will release harmful contaminants into the countryside or damage the landfill liner, how is it a concern of the state or your neighbors what you define as rubbish? If your compost is valuable to your neighbors, why haven't they paid you to take it off your hands?

Maybe there's a market opportunity there. Uber, but for used coffee grounds.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?