Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The dustbin test

Did you notice that what started as an inside page story in The Times on 5 December and picked up this blog on the same day, and was then fed into the Booker column on 11 January, has now become the front page lead in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph?

It is rather ironic, really, that the story is about recycling.

The broader point though, is that the case made for using waste to produce energy makes such good sense – and the downside of the current system of recycling is so obvious – that it is a wonder that our benign masters didn't think of this before.

What that points to, of course, is the ad hoc nature of government. Policy is made on the hoof, with no thought given to the consequences. There is no intelligent appraisal of the bigger picture and no rational consideration of various options, with a careful choice made, based on the evidence available.

In that sense, the mess that is our waste policy mirrors the rest of the achievements of our government. Nevertheless, it is no good looking elsewhere. This mess has cross-party support.

Looking at it in the round though, if the government can't even manage the nation's dustbins, is it really fit to manage the economy? But then the same test might also apply to the opposition. Are we in a mess, or what?