More Unintended Trash Consequences

Well-meaning policies can often have unintended consequences: trash taxes, for example, have been associated with backyard burning of trash in Ireland, trash dumped in the woods (in Virginia), and rat-infested sewers in Germany (thanks to flushed trash). Now, a family in Sharon Township, Ohio (where residents are charged for their trash), left behind a big mess when they moved out of their home. “When I opened the garage door, there was a year’s worth of garbage stacked in the garage, and on top of that garbage was a rat that looked like a small cat to me,” said a neighbor. (HT: Joe Haugen)[%comments]

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  1. econobiker says:

    Those were crazy hoarders, not trash evaders. The “human waste” on the wall kind of illustrates that.

    True story related by female friend in real estate rentals: She rents a small 2 bedroom one bathroom home to an adult mother and adult daughter. During the year they rented, they mailed the checks and would not let anyone in for say repairs. They’d only answer the door by cracking it open and telling the folks to go away. Finally they skip out after about 14 months with two months owed. Going to inspect the property our friend finds a garbage strewn house with abandoned furniture. The grossest thing was that the bathtub was completely filled with used tampons stacked up from being thrown in there. So the two women were 1. so gross not to throw out their female necessity trash 2. apparently didn’t shower or bath at all. Our friend had to get a biohazard outfit to clean that bathroom out as it was so disgusting all around.

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  2. Tyler Cowen says:

    A good intuitive economist approaches a practical problem by asking “What is the relevant scarcity hindering a better outcome?” If we haven’t posed this query, and assembled at least the beginnings of an answer, we may founder. For instance, we might make the mistake of throwing more money at a problem, when money is not what is needed. By identifying the relevant scarcity, we learn where to direct the incentives.

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  3. Chaz says:

    The example cited here proves nothing except that outliers exist in any system. In all the pay-as-you-throw systems enacted throughout this country, increased littering and flatout evasion are rare. These hoarders would have had this behavior pattern if collection had been free.
    Freakonomics might consider a healthy regard for facts before it leaps to conclusions.

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  4. Eric M. Jones says:

    “When I opened the garage door, there was a year’s worth of garbage stacked in the garage…”

    Maybe they just forgot?

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  5. HCG says:

    Just a reminder that the plural of anecdote is not data.

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  6. Michelle Wiley says:

    There should be some extra measures for individuals moving out of a home. For instance their should be some sort of quarterly follow up to ensure that residents aren’t leaving behind something such as the family from Ohio. Its a shame that something like sanitation has to be monitored at the home level. We do it to ourselves.

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