Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Grandpa's New Job

(71) Grandpa’s New Job

Well-dressed old guy in front of the house this morning. Shiny new Mercury. Sparkling white. Guy parks it, starts prowling the street. Has a plastic shopping bag. He’s “raiding” the recycling bins, apparently for deposit-cans and bottles that people have put out rather than returning to the store for the nickels.

A practiced eye. He can skim and scan the whole block in a few minutes, deftly picking out the good stuff.

Gotta figure he’s a treasure hunter. He’ll be at the supermarket later today with a trunk-full of his finds. Probably get a few bucks. Put it into a college fund for his grandchildren. Or maybe into a wash-the-Mercury fund. Car doesn’t get that sparkly on its own, you know. Or the Mercury Gasoline Fund.

Or maybe he’s saving up for a metal detector so he can patrol the beach on nice summer evenings, and find rings and other stuff to take and sell.

Hell of a way to make a living.

But no taxes, and perfectly legal.

Outdoor work. Good for the heart and lungs. No heavy lifting. A giant “contractor bag” full of cans doesn’t weigh much more than a few pounds. Maybe one of those college-bound grandchildren helps him schlep to the Moneyback machine at the store.

In large cities, this kind of living is generally reserved for the homeless. They don’t have shiny new Mercurys. They have stolen shopping carts or – if neophytes – plastic bags. They spend the pre-collection hours going from streetcorner trash bin to streetcorner trash bin. And in high-traffic tourist-friendly areas, they can do it every day of the week.

Probably no labor law about working seven days. But no time-and-a-half for overtime, either.

The city collectors are using the money for buying food and booze and drugs, the basics of survival on the street. The homeless here in Moote Pointe are less visible. They don’t have shopping carts. They don’t prowl residential neighborhoods and they don’t have to buy gasoline for big cars.

So, the recycle laws work. But not the way their framers intended.

Put the stuff out and get it collected and taken out of the slag heaps we’re building every which where. Wasn’t intended to get the entrepreneurial juices flowing. But it did – and does.

As we said, no taxes now. But someone will figure out a way to change that, then hire political cronies to enforce – and to use more public money than they collect in taxes.

Meantime, Grandpa is thinking about expansion. He’s looking for partners. Maybe even franchise the operation. Go public, make big bucks.

You can’t keep a good capitalist down.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

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