Now that the garbage has hit the fan again in Toronto, so to speak, it would have been nice to have seen some serious investigative journalism before an editorial rushing to endorse privatization, wrote Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to the Toronto Star Feb. 12:
At the very least, it would be good to have been reassured that the bad old days when the business of garbage was so commonly associated with organized crime in many North American cities – not for nothing was Tony Soprano’s calling card that of a “waste management consultant” – is truly a thing of the past.
But even assuming that is so, just as there are questions properly being raised today, everywhere from Washington to Cairo, about the cozy relationships between businessmen and politicians, I am sure your readers would be grateful for a careful, balanced and objective analysis of just who owns the companies that are already profiting from the taxes people pay to have their garbage collected, and whether they have any personal, financial and political relationships with politicians, here or elsewhere.
We could use some investigation of the ecological implications too. As Heather Rodgers showed in her widely acclaimed important book Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage (New Press) an alignment of manufacturing and marketing forces have used environmental laws to help the US mega-“waste management” corporations make mega-profits, while often using Third World countries, or poorer regions of our own society, as our garbage dump. Will privatizing Toronto’s garbage collection further contribute to this?
Finally, dare I suggest that some interviews with the workers of these companies would be worth doing to see what they have to say about their conditions and whether they consider themselves exploited or fairly treated?
Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin