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Jad Chambers Blog Archive



I Choose Lower Prices

Nobody asked for it, but I’m going to chime in on the “Trash Consolidation” issue. Plenty of others have spoken up… and some of it has made me pretty angry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for less government. You put a petition in front of me that’s in favor of smaller and more limited government… I’ll sign it. It’s not just my natural political leaning; it’s also because I think our government is totally inept. They can barely handle the things they do now, and most of it is terribly mismanaged.

But I’m in favor of the city’s trash consolidation plan. It’s just as easy as looking out my front door to see all the potential savings being wasted right now. Just in my neighborhood you can find trash at the curb 5 days of the week. So that’s at least 5 different haulers. But on my pick-up day, there are 3 different company cans out on the curb. Let’s count these up… THERE ARE AT LEAST 7 DIFFERENT HAULERS WORKING MY NEIGHBORHOOD. No wonder the city’s consolidated plan would be far cheaper for me. We have at least seven trucks rolling on 5 different days doing what one truck could do in an hour.

The City is saying it will cost $20 a month, $60 a quarter for the consolidated plan. That’s a significant amount less than what I pay right now. I won’t shame the company I use, but I’m approaching triple digits a quarter. I’ve switched carriers 3 times since living where I do. I see some savings for about half a year to a year, then the price goes back up to near triple digits no matter who hauls for me. 

Opponents of the plan are saying that the city would raise prices after three years or so.  So what? That’s three years of savings for me. It’s no different than now; my prices go up every year anyway. But some folks are saying that they would be paying more under the city’s plan.  I’ve done the research (back when I was looking to change my service for the 4th time) trying to figure out how some Wichitans pay $12 to $16 a month for trash service. I found out that they live in upscale (well, more so than mine) neighborhoods with “Neighborhood Associations” or “Homeowner Associations” that negotiate deals with the trash companies. 

Bummer, looks like I don’t even have a chance at the good rates, unless the city passes the consolidation plan. So that’s reason #1 why I’m behind consolidation. Short of me moving it will be the only way I can lower my trash bill. So for my costs to go down someone else’s costs have to go up. Kind of makes me feel bad…

For about a half second.

Then I remember reason #2. The vocal opposition to the consolidated trash plan talks a lot about free market, consumer choice, and less government intrusion. But the folk who’s prices will go up HAVE ALREADY CONSOLIDATED THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD’S TRASH SERVICE. That’s right; their “Homeowner Associations” have already restricted free market and consumer choice in order to broker a sweetheart price for themselves. So it’s ok for them, but not when everyone else would benefit from it? The vocal opposition to the trash consolidation plan is 95% the lamest hypocrisy I’ve ever heard.

There are valid reasons to be against the plan. When trash companies say that consolidation will lower their costs, one of the things they will cut is employees. They won’t need as many. So I can sympathize with the drivers who may be downsized. A friend of mine opposes the plan because the company he works for supplies parts to most of the trash companies for their trucks. They’ll need fewer trucks and it will hurt that company’s bottom line a little. I get that reason too. But when folks complain about eventually losing their sweetheart trash pick-up price for curbside service in front of their bigger home than mine in a nicer neighborhood… well there’s reason #2. I want those smug hypocrites to suffer.

That’s right, it’s pure spite. There are “high road” reasons to support the plan. It’s better for the environment, uses less resources, yadda, yadda, ok its “greener” and I don’t care. I can’t honestly say any of those things influenced my stance on the issue more than #1 lowering my cost and #2 sticking it to a group of people who think they deserve special treatment because they think they’re better than me.

So I support the city’s plan because I’m self-centered and vindictive. I’m starting to feel bad about it again…

Not really. Most of the vocal opponents are abusing ideals like a free market and smaller government to rabble-rouse folks against doing something that they have already done themselves. Not only to benefit themselves, but to maintain their status by continuing to receive special treatment to the detriment of “normal folks” like me. I don’t feel bad because I have no sympathy for someone who thinks they are better than me, when they don’t even know me.

And of course this does not apply to everyone out there. There are some good and decent people who belong to homeowners associations. They are just groups of people who want to improve the quality of their neighborhoods, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you oppose consolidation and get the already consolidated neighborhood sweetheart trash pick-up rate, just ask yourself one thing. Do you oppose the city’s plan because you think you are better than the rest of us and deserve special treatment, or do you just not realize how bad things are for the rest of us? Maybe city-run consolidation is not the answer, but the way things are going pretty soon I won’t be able to afford pick-up at all. This means I’ll need to find somewhere to dump my trash. And there’s this group of people with big lawns out there who forced me drop trash service.

Until next time…




 
12/16/2010 4:48AM
I Choose Lower Prices
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12/22/2010 10:58AM
I agree you're looking it from a self-serving view only
While you make good points about there being too many different trash haulers on any one street on any given day -- surely there is a better way to fix that than the city's plan. Think for a moment from the shoes of a man owning an indepedent trash hauling company (or think like ANY kind of business owner, which you apparently have never been). The city is going to tell you how many customers you can have - you can't grow from that - you are stuck in a no-growth pattern of a certain area. They are going to set your prices, etc. Does that really sound like a good way for you to run your business? No opportunity for expansion or growth? Which means, of course, if this goes through, the independent haulers will see they have no future, will sell out to the big hauler, and eventually we will have no choices - only one major hauler who can decide to charge whatever they want. And if you don't like them - if they do a crappy job, or cause damage, or whatever - too bad - you're stuck with them because there will be no other choices. Talk to me then about how you will feel about serving your own interests.
12/23/2010 1:33AM
Pretty Much
Yes, I support consolidation because it’s better for me. It would benefit other people as well, but I could care less about that. That's how high the prices are. If it was a difference of just a few dollars, well I would be for more choices and better customer service. Customer service will suffer, consumers will be stuck with one hauler no matter what, and the independent haulers would be driven out. All of those things will happen, and prices will go up from the initial cost. But I pay so much for trash pick-up right now, I will put up with all of that. If a better solution existed I'd be all over it. But I've been looking for such a solution for almost a decade now. And the private sector can't and won’t come up with one. Supporting this is my only choice to lower the cost. So I support it. There will be no snarky "talk to me then" moment. I already know we'll be worse off. Thank the trash haulers that overcharge me to hand out sweetheart deals to rich people that drove me to not care.
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