Man the world is muddled more than ever it seems. Folks with absolutely zero ability to follow arguments through to logical conclusions or even simply following them through to realize the consequences inherent in certain choices are standing up and yelling FREEDOM and LIBERTY and Small Government and CHOICE (except where morality is concerned, their version)...
So this back and forth over trash has become a kind of Petri dish of the inanities of our modern thinking (or lack thereof)--it seems to me it has become emblematic of the fact that it's impossible to govern on ideology and even very difficult to do so via a philosophy (even though the masters now proclaim pragmatism our most "democratic" of such).
Here's a link to a post on the site wherein the argument originated that links to all the other posts and weighs in also. I will say that the points raised in this particular post make sense to me.
However, I was prompted to write this post due to this paragraph in the linked blog post:
But where we differ is that I would argue that this “right” is not unfettered. And you can see what I mean if you think, as I do, that the question of whether you can buy a happy meal (which has next to no impact on anyone but yourself and or your kid) is different from the question of whether or not you can let your garbage rot on the street that fronts my house as well as yours.
I will disagree with this particular example and claim that there is the very same principle at work in this trash collection/free market debate and the Happy Meal regulation that has happened in San Fran and Santa Clara County.
Communities come together and decide via the action of voting (via elected representatives)--choosing a trash collection service or banning a happy meal toy. And guess what, choosing a Happy Meal does indeed impact your neighbors...you've heard of obesity, right? You've heard of diabetes, right? You've heard complaints about healthcare costs, right? I would argue that your decision about Happy Meals has a lot more impact on us all than your choice of trash collection.
And guess what...here is where I will again call bullshit on "free markets" and choice: it must be painfully clear to most that all of our entertainments in this life revolve around consumption. And all of our corporations spend more money persuading you to purchase their products than they do producing them. A Happy Meal Toy is an assault on choice--an assault on freedom. A Happy Meal Toy is the true emblem of inability to make sense of "freedom" and "property" and "choice". Markets lie to you and the action in California is the community realizing there is a consequence in that lie and they have the right and duty to defend themselves and their citizens against it the only way they have a chance...via regulation, not individual "responsibility".