Taxation without Sanitation
||Washington City Paper (DC)
||Thursday, April 7, 2011
Even the most placid of citizens have lines they simply won't allow their elected leaders to cross without arousing some populist fury. This week, as the federal government girds itself to shut down—taking most of the District government along with it—one of those lines has come into sharp relief. You can deny D.C. its voice in Congress, you can even try to rename our streets for dead Republican presidents, but mess with our trash collection at your own risk.
A new Facebook group sprung up in the last few days, proposing that if the government closes, and Department of Public Works trash and recycling pickups are disrupted, D.C. residents should take their garbage to the Capitol. "Speaker John Boehner is ready to shut down the government, including DC city services like trash collection," the organizers write. "Well, if he won't allow us to use OUR TAX DOLLARS to pick it up, maybe we should just BRING IT TO HIM."
But if this protest actually works, there's likely to be more trash than the Capitol grounds can handle. (The Capitol, after all, is designed to deal with hot air, not hot garbage.) DPW picks up about 600 tons of trash and recycling each week, officials say. Which means we'll need more than one dumping location.
So as a public service—and so we can prove, in the new Beltway status game du jour, how essential we are—Washington City Paper has some suggestions for where else to haul your garbage if it's not picked up next week, besides the Capitol. Remember, in D.C., newspapers and other recycling can be commingled!
FreedomWorks: From its unassuming office near Union Station, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey leads, well, an army of tea partying budget hawks. "Lower Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom," is the group's motto. "Less Government, More Trash," is more like it.
White House: Yes, the shutdown is mostly due to the demands of a band of hardcore conservatives that the federal budget be chopped down as quickly as possible, no matter what else gets chopped in the process. But President Obama deserves his share of the blame, or at least the trash, for the fact that D.C. still depends on Congress to pass our budget. The White House isn't using "Taxation Without Representation" license plates, after all. Maybe some garbage on his front lawn will encourage Obama to push harder for D.C.'s rights!
National Republican Club of Capitol Hill: When Democrats ran the House, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton at least got to vote when the chamber met in the "Committee of the Whole House," which mostly meant she could vote on amendments to tax and spending bills. Once the GOP took over again, they put an end to that. This posh club near the Capitol is where Republicans and their friends come to dine; leave them some old copies of the Post's Metro section to remind them there's a whole city out there.
National Archives: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are on display here, showing the country's commitment to the principles of democracy that are the foundation of our political system. Except, that is, when it comes to residents of the capital, who get to pay taxes, serve in the military, and have our rights trashed whenever some congressional yahoo from Utah feels like playing mayor.
Mattress Discounters of Capitol Hill: By some accounts, as many as 15 percent of the 94 freshmen who came to Congress last fall are sleeping in their offices—in part to save money, but in part to send a signal that they loathe our city so much they don't even want to have a crappy studio apartment here. So they show up with folding cots or air mattresses, plop them in the middle of the Rayburn building, and commence to making an absurd, but apparently popular, political point. We have no idea if they buy them at Mattress Discounters, but just in case, tell them to stop aiding and abetting this nonsense.
Virginia: Until 1847, Arlington and Alexandria were part of the District. Had they not petitioned Congress to return to their native commonwealth, the modern-day residents of these parts of town would, like those of us in D.C., be wondering what to do with all their garbage next week. Instead, many of them will be planning which bars to hit up for happy hour because they don't have to show up for their jobs as legislative correspondents. So take your trash over the Potomac, and—like lawmakers love to do—make the whole thing someone else's problem.