One of Dave’s hardwoods does its best Jerry Maguire “strong as oak” impression while breaching the perimeter
Wanda: (sign) The Grateful Dead are alive and living in Beverly Hills
Maxwell Smart: (countersign) Simon and Garfunkel fell off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Get Smart 1968 (The Groovy Guru)
“What you got big guy?” I had probably heard that same inquiry three or four times before I realized that there was a pattern… a code… a sort of spy language for citizens of the county attempting to access the local landfill. Fail to answer the question with the countersign confidently with the password “household trash” and find yourself relegated, rebuffed and otherwise sent to multiple stations around the county’s landfill facility.
Is a broken dehumidifier, technically speaking, household trash or is it “white goods” even if the case is plastic and not metal? How about an empty paint can? Is it still a paint can or more specifically “paint” if there’s nothing left in the can but the label clearly says “Behr” primer? Does the can even really belong to me or did I just buy the paint at Home Depot and the can really belongs to Home Depot’s shareholders. I didn’t go to Home Depot and say I would like to buy a can. I went to buy paint… they gave me the can and now I don’t really want it. As a matter of fact, did I even buy this particular paint or was it at my house when I moved in? This is getting as complicated as an asbestos settlement. Let’s start at the beginning.
It all started with a text message to my son. “Storm coming… stay where you are.” My son had just finished college had driven out to the store and Dave noticed a really dark storm rapidly approaching Daveland. Although I felt a little awkward texting a twenty-two year old “stay where you are” which assumes he doesn’t’ know what a bad storm looks like, little did I know just how bad of a storm it was. Ten minutes later, my wife and another son were gathered in the middle of our house in the hallway and thirty seconds after that we were running to the basement.
The sound of wind is a variable sound. It goes up and down in speed, but the sound we heard was most definitely louder than normal wind and it wasn’t variable in nature. It was more like the sound of a lawn mower running… a really big lawn mower. In a minute or two the whole thing was over and less than a week later I found myself reaching into the back of a U Haul trailer and heaving a broken dehumidifier into a 48 foot semi trailer trash container when I overheard the now famous meme; “What you got big guy?” Thankfully, I had already backed the trailer into “position 4″ and was eagerly unloading my environmental gift to future generations because I knew the answer to the proverbial landfill gatekeeper question was “household trash” before I ever realized what the question was exactly. When the pot bellied man sitting in the folding chair under the umbrella and assisted by the attractive young lady had asked Dave “What you got big guy?”, I had answered correctly and now I was eagerly unloading my terminal wares within earshot of the checkpoint and heard that same question asked more than a dozen times during Dave’s download for posterity.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the sound of the world’s largest power mower hovering over Daveland for two minutes can result in Dave being faced with some serious cleanup and while in the process why not make a trip to the local landfill. It is spring cleaning season. The fact that the tree pictured above ended up in Dave’s neighbors yard (see below) courtesy of the local power company is another story.
Davelane temporarily blocked by another falling tree limb.
You can now see the forest for the trees due to the new path cut by mother nature.
Knowing your way around the landfill is like knowing your way around the market. Do you remember that story about that group of investors who would have lunch at this podunk diner nearly every day. Their investment strategery was to make investments in growth companies and then to bail out once people at the local diner either had heard about the company they were investing in and were talking about it or a waitress at the diner had bought stock in one of their target companies. In other words, once it became mainstream, they would dump the stock knowing that the market penetration and growth of the company’s business was so complete that it had engulfed their small town diner.
So here’s Dave pulling into the local county landfill and they have one of those big reader board signs out front near the entrance. You know those signs where you can change the letters like you see outside high schools announcing a teacher’s work day or in front of a mobile home sales lot announcing that they have land/home/package deals. What did it say on the landfill sign? What else could it say but “Like Us On Facebook”? Dave has never liked anything on Facebook, but I really liked that sign because it was a sign to Dave that the waitress or the taxi driver or your friendly barber has probably already done his Facebook investing and that all that’s left for any of us to do with Facebook is to “Like” the landfill.
It was at that moment that I recalled yet another social network that was red hot and this was before the invention of Al Gore’s internet. It seems that a fellow I knew had sold his very successful Detroit based cold forging metal business to Masco the burgeoning conglomerate and subsequent to his becoming a Masco executive the company purchased Royce CB. You have pretty to be pretty old to remember the Citizen’s Band radio craze… good buddy. There were movies (Burt Reynolds in Smokey & The Bandit) about long haul trucking and even a TV show and they pretty much revolved around talking on CB’s like the local landfill is revolving around being talked about on Facebook. I can imagine the Facebook postings… “What did you dump today?” “Oh, I dumped a busted lawn mower and some old bleach that I found in my shed.” “I’m going to like you for that on Facebook… will you like me back good buddy?” “Ten-four… I’m liking you back.”
If it wasn’t difficult enough for Facebook already to have its name on display at the landfill (just imagine that guy who is buying clothes for homeless people with Abercrombie and Fitch’s exclusionary logo), Facebook’s numbers are suffering and media mogul Rupert Murdoch “likes” it. Murdock went so far as to celebrate the first birthday of Facebook’s IPO on Twitter.
Look out Facebook! Hours spent participating per member dropping seriously. First really bad sign as seen by crappy MySpace years ago.
The fact that Murdoch is liking the drop in hours spent participating on Facebook may be related to his $545 million loss when he sold MySpace in 2011 just six years after buying the company. I can’t imagine why Facebook’s popularity would be dropping when you consider that the company clearly provides the opportunity to spend time at the local landfill without having to experience all five of your natural senses.
If the local landfill isn’t getting all the Facebook “likes” they deserve maybe they should hire this guy as a marketing consultant:
Clearly virtual trips to the landfill, at least for Dave, are preferable with the exception of actually being able to dispose of that broken beach chair that you just knew was strong enough to stand on while you loaded a surfboard on top of the car but unfortunately it folded by a third just like Facebook’s stock price over the past year. Is Facebooking going to way of scrapbooking and those casserole making suburban retail concept franchise stores that popped up during the housing boom only to be dumped or is CEO Zuckerberg simply taking a breaker-breaker “10-100″ pause that refreshes. Hopefully for Facebook shareholders they aren’t headed down the same road Royce CB’s (the road to the landfill) once car phones entered the picture in the 1980′s? But I digress, so I’ll catch you on the flipside.
If Dave is generally a macro guy, then why all the trash talking human interest in clearing Dave’s driveway while giving thanks for hydraulics and Warren Buffet’s Constellation Energy sponsored free tree removal services. Actually there is a bigger story here and it’s about alternative currencies, bitcoin and solid waste pollution – the kind that goes to landfills. About fifteen miles from Daveland is a big military base and one of the things that powers that military base is the solid waste from Dave’s little burg of 20,000 residents. That’s right. The municipal waste is picked up in the town from trash cans and it’s hauled to an incinerator near the military base where it is burned which generates steam which generates power which generates the military half of the military/industrial complex.
Well it seems that some laws have changed. It was probably the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act or the Biometric Tracking of Identical Winkelvii Twins Act that has resulted in some hotly debated issues surrounding solid waste in the particular community where the incinerator is, or was, located. It’s been front page news on the local (10,000 circulation) twice weekly newspaper for the past year or so. They’ve discussed relocating the transfer station, the implications of shutting down the incinerator, etc., etc. Dave doesn’t actually even know the details, but that didn’t stop Dave from sending a few emails to the Chairman of the County Commissioners.
You see Dave knows that you don’t have to be Wayne Huizenga (Waste Management, Blockbuster, AutoNation) to know that there’s money in trash. The only thing that trash has more in common with being a money maker is a public policy concept known as NIMBY, or Not In My Back Yard. When it comes to turning one man’s trash into a Huizenga treasure, transforming concepts from NIMBY to NIMBP (Now In MY Back Pocket), communities could stand to learn a thing or two from Wayne.
Here’s a copy of the original email that I sent to the chairman of the county commissioners way back on December 18, 2011.
The nice thing about the chair is that he is kind enough to write me back as we exchanged a few emails on the topic. The tough thing is that he thinks that I have to sell him on the idea when the reality is that the trash is going to keep piling up until both the community, the government and its leadership come to the realization that the answer is staring them in the face and that smell rising from the freshly churned land/trash mixture is not going to be getting all the Facebook “likes” that the county’s reader board advertisement had been hoping for.
So Dave’s been thinkin’, as he’s inclined to do, about how I might go about presenting the concept that one county’s trash is the same county’s treasure. The chairman wrote back via email, and I quote,
“The problem is David I don’t get to make those decisions as a councilman. I’m still waiting for something from the Executive which is starting to make me nervous because time is running out on being prepared when the current contract expires. I’d be glad to try and sell your idea to the administration if it makes sense.”
Well, it’s not really my idea and it doesn’t only make cents, it makes dollars too, or more specifically Bitcoins now that they’re going mainstream and all and anyone who wants to be “somebody” is going to want some Bitcoins and what better way to get them than to trade a trailer load of household trash for an electronic wallet full of virtual cash. So, here goes…
Trash isn’t a new idea and our county is up-to-date because we even have single stream recycling where you don’t have to sort out your trash, but we also are old school in that through a partnership with the Feds we’ve been burning trash in an incinerator for years and that’s go to stop. So right off the bat, Dave’s going to tell you that he’s no trash expert. I’m not even an expert “community organizer”, but I can tell you this. I’ve done these type of deals before with the state, with the local town and with the Feds and I know when the time is right and when something will work. The window of opportunity to connect solid waste policy with the monetary system is upon us and the obvious green light that has been given to Silicon Valley investors to bolt the Federal Reserve System onto Bitcoin will create the tsunami of energy (read money) that communities are going to need to “take back their trash.”
The Bad News Is Accounting For Trash Probably Won’t Get You Re-elected
(but your kids and your great-great-grandkids will think you’re super cool)
I’ll start with the bad news which is the thing the politicians refuse to touch with a ten foot pole due to the non-virtual smell that AFT (Accounting For Trash) will cause to show up on their clothes come November election season. If you are on municipal water, your usage is measured by a water meter. If you have natural gas, your usage is measured by a gas meter. If you generate externalities such as trash it’s going to be measured just like everything else. Dave doesn’t care if you measure it by the pound, by the cubic foot or by the trash can load. I can tell you one thing for sure if you can’t account for it, you can’t improve it.
Dave’s not going to tell you how to best go about measuring trash. Dave’s sure there’s some community in California or maybe Sweden that is borderline communist that has already figured out the best solution for trash counting. If you feel like Dave’s invading your privacy because he wants to measure your trash, believe me I don’t want to measure your trash. I don’t even want to measure my own trash (and I didn’t have to this week), but your trash is becoming my trash the minute your trash gets put out on “our sidewalk” for pick-up. So if you don’t want your trash accounted for, then don’t put it out. Take it back to where you got it from. Take your paint cans back to Home Depot and your busted big screen TV’s back to Best Buy and take all the boxes and packaging back to where they came from while you’re at it.
Dave already does this sometimes when he buys stuff and not because I’m a tree hugger (see chainsaw evidence above) but because it’s easy and I can be lazy. I’ll take what I buy out of the box while I’m at the store and then kindly go up to the customer service desk and say “Here’s your box back. Thanks for the new window air conditioner” or “Thanks for the new set of cookware” or “Thanks for the Blu Ray DVD player… you can keep the box.” Dave’s all about your privacy, but your trash, the trash that you want to send to Dave’s landfill, well that’s not your trash anymore and somebody is fixing to get up in your trashy business… capiche?
So you think accounting for your trash is a bit extreme? Fine, then don’t come up with some voluntary solution and instead wait for the government to have their own IRS/Tea Party/Obamacare version of trash pickup. I mean really how hard is it going to be to put a bar code on your trash can, scan it and then let the hydraulic lift arm on the trash truck weigh each can and store the data? Heck, with some Cass Sunstein behavioral database they will be able to calculate how many illegal aliens you have living in your rental properties based on the trash output post-data analysis. You think that will never happen? You’re probably the same guy waiting in line to pay cash at the EasyPass toll booth on the way to the beach on Memorial Day weekend because you don’t want them to track your car. I got news for you, they track it with the license plate already.
They scan my license plate (technically speaking it’s their license plate) without probable cause, but they would never scan my trash. Right. /sarc off.
So if you believe you have some constitutional right to your own trash, then I suggest you buy enough land to build your own landfill and make sure you check with your Governor and most likely Homeland Security if you’re going to throw away any pressure cookers or paint cans into that landfill. If you disagree with Dave that before you can make cash on something you need to account for it, then you can stop reading now and instead of getting ahead of the tsunami of solid waste, you can wait until the Audi Green Police show up at your home in Boston without a warrant and are doing house-to-house tall kitchen garbage can and boat searches (I forgot… they didn’t search the boat) and handing out citations for composting violations because somewhere in the neighborhood there’s a pre-criminal on the loose so it’s justification for shredding the constitution.
Like any good lawyer (yes, there are good lawyers, just like there is good trash) you don’t necessarily need to know the answer as long as you know where to find the answer. Here’s a paper written by Bernard Lietaer who is a currency specialist and was involved in the development of the Euro. I’m not going to hold the Euro project against Bernard because I’m not suggesting a direct application of his “civic credits” model. Instead I’m suggesting that the local government catch the Bitcoin popularity wave and use it to ride from Bernard’s concept of local currency in the form of “civic credits” to a global currency in the form of Bitcoin which greatly increases the odds of success through the creation of powerful feedback loops in the form of Lorenz attractors that are needed to create a new system that will flourish.
Does this mean that the county would be required to develop, manage and otherwise enable “civic credits” to be used to pay property taxes? No. They could simply accept Bitcoins through one of the many emerging payment systems which will be coming to a retailer near you. My guess is your county already accepts credit card payments for property taxes. If they don’t they should and if they want to tag on the merchant fee, then tag it on.
So what’s the real connection between Bitcoin and solid waste? To be completely truthful there isn’t one… with one key exception. There’s a gambling component with Bitcoin (cough… we’ll call it speculation) that you wouldn’t get with simple civic credits or local currency such as Berkshares (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkshares) due to Bitcoin’s burgeoning nature and ubiquitous acceptance. Normally, a local currency is launched by funding the initial distribution of the local currency through a cash infusion from a community foundation or a large local employer/sponsor or a group of activist merchants.
The challenge to local currency models is that the velocity of the alternative currency is destined to cool off due to the second law of thermodynamics (behavioral economics version 2.0) when the currency chits are either lost in a washing machine, a junk drawer in the kitchen or head out of town and breach the barrier of acceptance never to be heard from again or the merchant acceptance network dwindles over time simply due to business attrition rates of the enthusiast retailer acceptance network. Dollars, being the world’s reserve currency (at least until this past week – google Mt. Gox & Homeland Security) haven’t suffered the same leakage that say Disney Dollars have or Amazon Coins will.
Bitcoin solves all those problems while adding back the clear attractiveness of speculating (i.e. gambling) on future price appreciation with odds that are about 99% better than your state’s “education” lottery (aka the Chump Tax). What does the county government need to do then? The county becomes either the over-the-counter distributor of the currency or better yet licenses local merchants to handle Bitcoin transactions OTC as both a form of payment and as an non-virtual exchange. Most states are already in the money services licensing business, but regulating local OTC (that’s over the counter) bitcoin distribution is best suited to a local agency such as county government.
As far as what network would the county endorse? There will be more choices in the near-term than any bureaucrat would want to choose from be they Bitpay, Coinbase, ZipZap, or Bitcoin alternatives such as LiteCoin or PPCoin or brand agnostic exchanges such as Ripple. Ultimately it will probably settle into the duopolistic Fedex/UPS, Verizon/AT&T models that pass muster with the fantasy of free market capitalism while reaching the investment criteria of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, but in the near-term it will be exciting to consider all the alternatives… that is until they’re driven out of business or as in the case of Tumblr are sold for $1.1 billion to a consolidator.
The good news is that you are going to be able to turn your trash into treasure (bullish for community prosperity). The bad news is that you’re going to be required to account for your trash (could be bearish for Best Buy, Sam’s Club and the manufacturer of electronic poker machines). What method exactly of converting trash to Bitcoins, or maybe having to purchase a certain amount of Bitcoins (in the form of a tax) and having to use those Bitcoins to pay for your trash removal is going to be implemented in Dave’s community? It doesn’t really matter. I can think of a handful of ways to handle the process, but without exception it gets into the pockets of the trash haulers in the community (sorry Wayne) and the pot bellied man sitting under the umbrella with the attractive girl in the optic yellow safety vest (sorry BIG GUY, but ideas are the main thing that Dave’s “got” to trade while keeping your pension liquid is your problem).
This is also going to get into the pockets of local casino operators and Cherokee Indians like Senator Elizabeth Warren. You see there’s a lot of money made on Mega Millions lottery ticket sales, ticket printing and distribution systems at convenience stores and the like. Dave calls it The Chump Tax because you feel like a chump while you wait in line to buy a bottle of water and a sleeve of cashews behind the real chump who is buying the lottery tickets at the corner mini-mart. Both Governors and your local Sheldon Adelson gambling industrial complex managers aren’t going to like that either because you’re getting up in their “education” lottery business.
The last time I was at my county landfill it didn’t stay “State” landfill, the sign said “County.” Sorry Guvna… unless you want to come pick up all this trash, this is a local issue and for the most part so is “education” and all those lottery billboards that educate people that their only “hope” for “change” is to win the long shot, if you ask Dave, fail to meet the criteria of a “social good”. For you savvy entrepreneurs and aspiring politicians out there, there are plenty of reasons why you need to seek out the lobbyist who understands that Bitcoin’s regulatory framework recursion is best suited for county rather than the state level… that is if Bitcoin is used to solve your local solid waste problems. If you want to turn trash into treasure, and a lucrative political career, then you need to get on the global virtual currency trash train before it leaves the transfer station.
Dave’s no accountant although I took accounting at Wharton. Dave’s no engineer, although I have met a few garbage men that have “sanitary engineer” on their resumes. I’ll leave it up to long-winded first and third Tuesday of the month late night boring county council meetings that you can watch for yourself on local access cable to debate what particular methodology of carrot vs. sticks that the local government can impose upon its citizenry to pick up the tab for picking up the trash.
To quickly summarize years of debate either you can be given a certain number of Bitcoins by your county to apply to your trash pick-up or you will be required to purchase a number of Bitcoins (more likely) and redeem them in association with trash pick-up or you will be able to earn Bitcoins by having your trash externality means-tested (think Simpson-Bowles) and then you will either pay in Bitcoins or redeem in Bitcoins based on your variance over or under your trash allowance. If that “solution” is feeling a bit too Hegelian for you, then I suggest you bone up on the implications of “triple entry accounting” which is the entire basis of Bitcoin before you head down this road. You can simply type the words “triple entry accounting” or “3D accounting” into the search box here at www.tradewithdave.com and you’ll get a dumpster full of articles on the subject. If you want to go deep, search for Yuji Ijiri and if you want to go even deeper search for Jaromil.
For all you folks out there who enjoy heading over to the local electronic slot machine casino to gamble away your pensions, there’s a new game in town. Betting Bitcoins on your trash. For all of you property owners out there who are sick and tired of being sick and tired of rising property taxes, I have good news for you. You’re going to be able to pay those property taxes with Bitcoins and they may just rise in value (or fall like gold and silver have been doing). For the manager of Best Buy and Wal-Mart, I have some really, really bad news for you. Uh… customers are going to be leaving their boxes at your stores. Hey, you brought all those boxes and paint cans into the community, so you can take them out or pay (in Bitcoins if you so choose) to dispose of all that solid waste (completely accounted for) into the local landfill.
Is your county going to measure their trash by the pound, by the cubic foot or by the dumpster load? I don’t know and to be honest with you I don’t really care. All Dave had to do was to load up that U Haul trailer with junk and then heave it into a dumpster that was conveniently parked below the grade of my trailer. No weighing… no counting and the fee was a mere $7. When it comes to dealing with that incinerator contract and complying with everyone from the Department of Pressure Cooker Terrorism Disposal to the Governor of your state (mine’s a member of the White House Council of Governor’s… how ’bout yours?) your constitutional right to dump trash on the sidewalk is soon going to be revoked along with the IRS status of your Tea Party non-profit application. You may as well get in front of it and make a few coins in the process.
It’s tough to say if Dave’s virtual dive into the dumpster of solid waste and its connection to currencies will stir up a perfect storm of business-indvidual-government or a conflagration that burns up the solid waste disposal infrastructure (read cronyism) beyond recognition. Dave can’t promise that, but Dave knows that there is a promise about storms. You see after that storm that knocked down all those trees on Daveland had passed, Dave was in the parking lot of one of those big box retailers that brings loads and loads of solid waste and packaging into Dave’s community and leaves the trash here for us to deal with. Dave was at Target when he saw this rainbow.
It was stunning. Then I started watching people as they came out of the store and their universal reaction of being overwhelmed by the beauty and extraordinary design stretched across the sky. Kids would say “Look mommy!” and Moms would say “Oh my… what a rainbow!” as Dads would pull out their phones to take a photograph and nearly everyone was stopped dead in their tracks by the amazing display of beauty following the devastating display of power. I know the answer to the question; “Will there ever be another storm like the one that lasted forty days and forty nights?” The answer is no. But there’s still that question asked by the pot bellied man, sitting under the umbrella, next to the attractive girl, reverberating in my mind. “What you got big guy?” I think the best answer to that question is simple. Nothing. I got nothing for you.