The odor of tyranny: Hayek’s road in Belgium

I have to get my garbage ready for tomorrow's pickup and make sure everything is in order.

The men in orange will come very early in the morning.  Here in Antwerp, Belgium, we're living in a world that Hayek's prescient "The Road to Serfdom" predicted.  We're not actually on that road.

We have arrived at a place called Serfdoma.  Compliments of the European Union.  Or is it the United Nations?

For regular pickup, residents are forced to buy official government-sanctioned bags for garbage such as plastic, paper, and green/food.  A ten-pack of bags costs anywhere from four to ten euros, depending on the kilo capacity.  You can run up a hefty annual bill buying these sacks, which are tattooed with official "Stad Antwerpen" information.  White sacks for general trash, every week; blue for plastic and cans and green for food/leaves, every other week.  In the E.U.'s infinite wisdom, plastic sacks have replaced metal cans.  This brilliant decision allows cats and birds to easily puncture the bags at night while looking for morsels to snack on.  These forays too often result in a potpourri of decayed food, beer and soda cans, and other debris decorating the street and sidewalk.

If they own a home, residents are forced to purchase, instead of or in addition to bags, large plastic containers.  One each for paper and green.  If they decide that they want the freedom to dispose of general refuse into one container, they have to pay a yearly fee of €160-€220 for a 240-liter container (as an example) and a whole lot  more for larger containers for those with businesses and large private residences.

The orange-clad garbage men and women arrive early every Tuesday morning.  Very much resembling prisoners, they wear the look of one consigned to the duty by bad karma.

I say every Tuesday, except when there is a general strike emanating from Brussels, which occurs two or three times a year.  The further insult to all this is the expectancy of gratuities by those state workers.  They are sure to knock on our door at Christmastime for the annual tip of appreciation.

As for garbage that doesn't fit into sacks or containers, one must find a way to transport it to a recycling center.  These gulag-style "camps" are run by those on the societal periphery and often by large felonious-looking chaps, perhaps there to instill a sense of intimidation.  After you present "your papers" (passport), to prove that you are worthy of being a slave for the state, a "'Checkpoint Charlie"-style entrance gate swings open.  You have arrived.

Responsible citizens, doing a very good impersonation of proletarians, are observed walking around the large, dusty domain carrying heavy discarded items.  They often have to climb pig-metal steps to heave heavy pieces of furniture and appliances into one of the containers, which are almost as large as boxcars.  Throughout this physically taxing ordeal, they all wear robotic faces of obedient resignation.  The whole bloody affair is a dignity-robbing encounter, as the guards are observing your every move.

The rope of enslavement is getting even tighter around the collective necks of the citizenry, as they are now being charged, as of last year, by the kilo to dump their discarded items at one of these state depots.  If this isn't the ultimate insult and degradation, I don't know what is.  If you want to get rid of many heavy furniture items, or a refrigerator or any other combination of heavy items, you'll notice an amount deducted from your bank account some weeks later.  We had a big haul of stuff last year, and it costs us 20 euros.  Of course, that will no doubt increase at the whims of the State.  Up until a few years ago, you could leave furniture items on the sidewalk near your house, and it would be picked up for free.  We long for those halcyon days of trash disposal.

As a consequence, people are very reluctant to visit one of these God-forsaken places.  In my opinion, this is pure Big State Mafia under the rubric of  "let's work together for a healthy environment."  One of the results is a typical pile-up of no longer useful household items.  Many garages are full of junk.  Those who have only a car or who don't drive have to hire someone with a truck or van when their accumulation starts get out of hand.  People are also reluctant to purchase new items for lack of space.  Of course, this all amounts to a de facto "consumption fee" on every item of a certain size that you buy.  The elderly are especially victimized.

Since I haven't lived in the USA for almost thirteen years, I don't know about the waste disposal and recycling situation there.  Though I suspect that the entire recycling and sustainability system is mandated to one degree or another throughout the entire West by those lovable engineers of Agenda 21.

Why do I have a nagging feeling that Big Government and Big Business, in a ham-fisted "gimme five" salutation, are making billions on recycling, at the cost and labor of hapless taxpayers?  I mean, where does all the plastic and glass go?  I would think it goes back to the giant bottling companies.  Paper and green are surely utilized for profit in the same way, I suspect.  And where are all the protest marches in Brussels, a city noted for demonstrations attended by tens of thousands protesting a variety of causes and peeves?  State authoritarianism doesn't seem to generate much in the way of protest.  Garbage-wise, the proles are quite satisfied with the status quo.

Whew.  Something smells.  Could it be the rank odor of tyranny?