What Does Litter Say About Us?

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Opinion Column by Menckens Ghost
June 1, 2018

By Mencken's Ghost

With all the serious problems facing the nation and the world, the problem of littering seems insignificant.

But it is not.

Litter says a lot about us.  It says something about class, race, ethnicity, and even political ideology.  It speaks volumes about our sense of community, or lack thereof.  It's also an example of the Tragedy of the Commons.

Moreover, litter is a daily reminder of the inability of government to perform the simplest of tasks.  After all, a government that cannot pick up litter, trash, and abandoned shopping carts from public spaces is probably a government that cannot manage the complexities of public education and public healthcare.

Then there is the paradox of millennials.  Steeped in communitarianism and environmentalism, they seem to be oblivious to their immediate environment.  I have yet to see a millennial pick up litter and throw it into a nearby trash can, assuming they
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