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Talking 'tea party' and trash in Arizona

Now, this is just getting silly.

In Arizona, "tea partyers" have been protesting a town trash collection plan that would streamline trash collection and could cost less money.

The town of Fountain Hills, population maybe 30,000, has two tea party groups, and they’re up in arms because their town council (an elected one) has voted (majority rules) to go with a single trash collector rather than continue to give residents a choice among five different collectors. The opponents are outraged: Why, it’s, it’s … socialized trash!

The new trash collection arrangement also requires some recycling, which is vastly overdue in Arizona. I visit family there frequently, and the scenic splendor that Arizonans boast about (and that brings in all those tourist dollars) is cluttered by bottles and cans that in states such as California get cleaned up because they're worth a few pennies back from a point-of-sale recycling program. (In fact, entrepreneurs have been known to collect Arizona trash and haul it across the Colorado River into California to collect the Golden State’s deposit recycling fee they’re not entitled to; states’ rights, remember?)

The Arizona Legislature refuses to impose even that small deposit on cans and bottles -- money that you can recover just by hauling your bottles and cans back to where you bought them. You don’t lose a penny. But no, that’s too much trouble for the rugged individualist. Just throw it out the window if you’ve a mind to.

In the town of Fountain Hills, sympathizers with the tea party sentiments have left out fliers warning about a Fountain Hills "green police."

Let’s tease this out. Recycling saves money because without it, more crap goes into public landfills, and landfills cost taxpayer money. And recycling also saves energy -- all the energy that went into finding and moving and processing the raw materials into the finished product. To save is to conserve. Conservation and conserve come from the same root as "conservative."

Are they sure they even want to use the term trash "collecting"? After all, it’s from the same root as "collective" and "collectivism," which is only one nudge away from socialism, right? And from there, well, you can see the Kremlin from your house.

(I’ve never understood what on earth is supposed to be so pansy-pants liberal about recycling. It was the righteous, patriotic, American thing to do during World Wars I and II: mend, make do, reuse, recycle. You’d think real conservatives who worry about the debt and spending would be jumping all over the chance to claim recycling as a conservative virtue and to paint as "liberal" anyone too wasteful and profligate to recycle.)

From studies like the classic "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," it’s clear there have always been a metaphorical handful of people -- and now more than a handful -- who see everything in fearfully partisan terms themselves, and so assume that everyone else does too. That isn’t the case. Most Americans regard themselves as occupying the practical middle when it comes to public life. The notion of a sensible commonweal that exists apart from partisanship is a significant part of American public life,  and yet one that is being killed off by inches by paranoid partisans who see big-government boogeymen in town trash collection.

Haven’t we learned from "freedom fries"? When Americanism is ascribed to a lightbulb, you don’t know whether to laugh or despair. Texas Republican congressman Joe Barton has pledged to fight to defend the "traditional incandescent lightbulb" against the requirements for the energy-saving fluorescent model, "the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones."

In fact there is no "traditional" lightbulb shape -– evidence "other-shaped" Christmas tree lights and security floodlights and camera and flashlight bulbs and recessed lighting and fluorescent tubes. Thomas Edison himself went through several iterations of bulb shape, and GE created the first practical fluorescent light seven years after Edison died. The only arguably un-American thing about energy-saving fluorescents is that American companies have allowed China to get the jump on their manufacture.

People have been seeing patterns where there are none ever since early humans were sure they saw a face in the moon. Over Veterans Day, Google’s home-page tribute of flags and bombs bursting in air got some people swearing they saw a Muslim crescent hidden in there. In fact, it was just the lower part of the "e" in Google, peeking out from the Stars and Stripes.

But hey -- it’s the American way, right?


Did the tea party lose California, too?

-- Patt Morrison


Comments () | Archives (16)

The comments to this entry are closed.


Recycling is anti-evolutionary. All of the self-appointed eco-crusaders who think they're saving the world with a few aluminum cans and hybrid cars are actually jeopardizing the survival of the human race.

Loop quantum gravity offers definitive proof that the sun will implode at some point in the future, throwing the off the centripedal velocity of the Earth and thus killing every man, woman, and micro-organism on it. The only way to avoid this disaster is to develop technology which will allow the human race to colonize other galaxies. Now, we know that organisms evolve based on stressors in their environments. If we destroy all of the natural resources on Earth, my supposition is that we as a species will need to adapt and evole in order to survive. This means enhances intellectual skills which will lead to unimaginable breakthroughs in technology and, in turn, a ticket off this doomed rock.

Call me crazy. What did Galileo's contemporaries say of him? Was Keppler not laughed at by his countrymen? Regardless of what you think, environmentalists are hindering the very process that will lead to human salvation. The road to hell is truly paved with good, "green" intentions.


Patt - a glaring flaw in your argument is that you utilize logic. Logic is water off a duck's back to the Tea Partier types.


Hezekiah - You're wrong. The impending human-robot apocalypse will destroy us long before earth is threatened by the sun. Unless you can count our robot progeny as a continuation of the human race. Then we synthetic humans would still face an inevitable supernova. Maybe we could develop technology (millenia from now) to alter the sun's chemistry and prevent a full-blown supernova? But if we develop such sophisticated technology, we could probably also travel faster than light and colonize other solar systems. Well, not 'we,' but our synthetic progeny. Oh crap, it's getting late and I forgot to put out my recycling bin.


I have been trying to type for 2 minutes but could not ( I was laughing so hard). Not only is Hezekiah's theory idiotic, it is also funny. I wonder if Galileo and Keppler were able to write nonsensical humor as well as Hezekiah since he/she walks among them in enlightenment. Paraphrasing Hezekiah "Let's totally screw up the planet, it will force us to evolve".

By the way, evolution, such as the one needed for such a leap does not happen overnight, over a year or even over a couple of decades. I wonder how much time we have if we must make that giant leap?

Macca Doo

Arizona and White trash do go together.

Barbara Simons

The streets in all of the Valley, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, etc. are immaculate, get your facts straight.


If Arizona was so bad why do YOU Californians flock here evading all your screwed up tree hugging laws. Even your two time looser governor was here last week vacationing. GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA AND STAY!!!!!

Clark Nova

The sun is way too small to end as a supernova (read up on the Chandrasekhar Limit). It will go Red Giant and blow off its outer shells, ending up as a White Dwarf surrounded by a planetary nebula for a few thousand years.


@Aljan10 Our "looser" governor was there? Are you trying to scare people out of Arizona by making us believe that Arizonan's are uneducated? I don't buy it. I am sure that not all Arizonans are so. I might even take a road trip on my hybrid to confirm it. That is of course if my visit is fine with you oh mighty spokesperson of the state.


Yeah, you could be called crazy Hezekiah... but not from me.
See, most retards commenting in the LAT's lack something called comprehensive reading skill, that is, they see the words running past their eyeballs but their brains are pre-locked into their limited capacity to integrate the message. In your case they totally obliterated your qualifier word, "supposition".
More power to your theory pal, but don't expect them to look the word up anytime soon, takes too much effort to un-crap their heads.


It's true Phoenix and it's various suburbs have really clean streets. (My dad lives there, I was there not but a few weeks ago) I suppose that Morrison was using a bit of hyperbole saying that one could simply chuck their cans and bottles where they will. But there are benefits to recycling, as he later pointed out those benefits were trumpeted loud and clear during both world wars. Mainly that limited resources are used as little as possible.
Also... to Hezekiahs' point: Recycling is a reaction a stressor, namely limited resources. If one must live on a fixed income there becomes a need to stretch your money. If we, as a society, live on a fixed amount of natural resources the reaction is to recycle and reuse what we have until such time alternative solutions are created.

To the actual point of the article: government handles matters that are considered the public good, and while the public good can be tough to nail down, proper sanitation and waste disposal are usually considered as such. The entire point of representative government is that designated people meet to discuss matters of the public good. One of the points to representative government is we the people are free to live our lives while those we elect to represent us can do all the research and decision making. These people are supposed to weigh all options and come to the conclusion that is best for their community. Perhaps there are down sides to the way the the current system is working that the tea party folks aren't considering. For example what if a person opts to not have regular trash pick up and their home becomes a safety hazard? If it's lumped in to regular city services then it'd be more accessible. If they don't like their town council they shouldn't have voted for them. If they didn't vote for them then not enough people think as they do to have elected a similar minded candidate.


@mel you got a couple of screws loose which is probably normal for a Californian who wishes to impose all their tree hugging ways on other states. Why dont you honor the boycott and stay home. Not that we would miss ya. Oh by the way your comment regarding Arizonians being uneducated you might need to attend you ESL class again because nowhere in that post did I even hint at that. And yes please remove Moonbeam from our state.


The"little squiggly,pigtailed,pig-tailed ones" are most probably better than the less expensive incande scent bulbs, but most citizens would rather make the choice themselves of which one to use. It's the American way.

Mitchell Young

The overwhelming number of 'recyclers' in my area are white folks, doing a dirty and somewhat difficult job for very little money (try it yourself sometime). Granted not a few of them appear to have substance abuse problems. But back in the day, these folks could make better money doing harvesting jobs


Unfortunately our open borders policy has squeezed them out of that line of work.

Mitchell Young

More reality for Ms. Morrison

Trashing Arizona

Illegal immigrants dump tons of waste in the wilderness every day—and it's devastating the environment



Thanks for a funny article. Well I guess it isn't funny when you think about it but with the tea pots you have to laugh or you'd cry!



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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