The neighbors don’t use trash pickup: the cellular automata of ethnic competition

I’ve noticed that the neighbors don’t put out their trash can on trash day. At first I thought nothing of it; perhaps they just hadn’t put their can out yet, or had accidentally slept through trash pickup. I don’t normally devote too much thought to the neighbors’ trash habits, but somehow, their cans never seemed to be out.

Last week, I witnessed them piling a mountain of trashbags into a truck. This week, again, no trash can.

It is technically legal, and cheaper, to not pay for trash pickup and instead pay a small fee to deposit your trash directly at the dump. So the neighbors are storing up a month or two’s worth of trash in their garage and then hauling it to the dump.

This is (or was) a nice neighborhood. Low crime, good schools, modern infrastructure, nice houses.

Now one of the other neighbors has been complaining to me that he’s concerned about rats coming from that house to his house.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this household, generally from other neighbors. Noisy, late-night parties. Guests who pee in other people’s bushes. Litter. Parking disputes (thankfully, not with me.) Mundanities that you have to put up with if you’re living around other humans. But this is a bit much.

So what to do? Call up the HOA and demand that they pass a resolution mandating that people pay for trash pickup? (Can the HOA even do that?) I don’t actually like the idea of getting the HOA to regulate the minutia of other people’s behavior, but then, I’ve never had a neighbor opt to keep giant piles of trash in their house instead of pay for trash pickup.

If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because I happened to highlight trash-related behaviors back in “Increasing Diversity => Fascism.” I’d call this a coincidence, but I suspect that disputes over proper trash disposal are actually very common.

I’m just glad we’re renting, so it’s not my money going down the drain–no, my money did that elsewhere. We cut our losses and got out shortly after the home invasions started and I found used drug needles on the playground. So we decided to pay extra, this time, for a nicer neighborhood, somewhere clean and safe.

So much for clean.

Why would anyone who can’t afford trash pickup live in this neighborhood? There are cheaper-but-still-nice neighborhoods nearby.

The answer is probably the obvious one. People who live on million-dollar estates on islands accessible only by ferry, who happily talk about how the cost of the ferry ride “keeps out the riff-raff,” vote for policies that move people from ghettos to middle-class neighborhoods.


This all gets back to competition, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and ethnicity.

You and I are in competition.

If it’s any consolation, we’re also in competition with pretty much everyone on Earth. Each of us, whether consciously or not, is attempting to secure resources for ourselves and our progeny.

The easiest person to conquer is your neighbor.

You are unlikely to care terribly much about the behavior of someone living across the country, or even across the state. If some guy a thousand miles away from you is storing up a pile of trash, well, that’s weird, but it doesn’t affect you. If your neighbor is storing up a pile of trash, suddenly it starts looking like your business.

Most violence is committed against people known to the attacker, or members of their own community. Most wars are waged against a country’s immediate neighbors. And if I can’t conquer my neighbors, perhaps I can ally with someone from far away–someone not an immediate threat to me–to conquer them.

The easiest way to get people to stop fighting with their neighbors and band together for the common good is to confront them with an even bigger, credible threat from further away. England and France finally managed to ally when confronted with Germany; if space aliens invaded tomorrow, I bet most countries on earth would forget their nationalistic squabbles pretty darn quickly.

But as long as there isn’t a bigger, credible threat, then stealing my neighbor’s resources can lead to my own success. And pretty soon, we’re back to squabbling.

In other words, getting people to cooperate instead of defect is pretty tough.

Indeed, a great percent of ethnic conflicts are phrased along the lines of, “My people are great and virtuous cooperators who bend over backwards for other groups of people, but your people are dastardly defectors who are taking advantage of our naive goodwill!” And for good reason–if you can consistently defect against someone who consistently cooperates, you’ll do really well for yourself.

Society can only function if people cooperate, but short-term interests are benefitted by defection. Why put in all of the effort to engage in trade when you can let other people do trade and then mug them? Society therefore has a strong incentive to punish defection–if society can actually identify it.

We’ve gotten into the habit of attempting to prove that we are great cooperators by accusing others of defecting–ironically, defecting against them in the process.

Most whites are in direct competition–for jobs, popularity, and mates–with other whites. Lower class (and some middle class) whites are also in competition with blacks and Hispanic immigrants. High class whites are not.

When low class whites complain about black behavior, it sounds to high class whites like defection–or as we more commonly put it, racism. When high class whites say so, this sounds like defection to the low class whites–especially when they believe the blacks defected on them first. (And the blacks, of course, will inform you that the whites defected on them first.)

When whites move out of neighborhoods as blacks move in, it looks an awful lot to elites like defection. When elites make sanctimonious noises about the evils of “white flight,” this sounds like defection to the whites whose property values were destroyed as crime and trash–in the literal sense–invaded their neighborhoods. And when whites attempt to keep prospective black buyers out of neighborhoods (or drive them out after they’ve moved in,) this looks like defection, too.

Society needs a better way to determine who is and isn’t defecting.



8 thoughts on “The neighbors don’t use trash pickup: the cellular automata of ethnic competition

  1. This is one of the uses of a state religion. It gives a clear rubric of what defection does and doesn’t look like, all while being (theoretically) above the level of simple law.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I’m actually offended! Doesn’t make you, like, evil or anything. It’s just an interesting feeling! ;)

    My poor little emotions are all up in arms that you have the effrontery to act like it’s just *normal* to pay for trash pickup, and like taking your trash to the dump is only “technically” legal.

    When my emotions know that *everyone* knows ;) that what’s *normal* is to go to the transfer station every week. (Everyone here calls it the transfer station since it also collects recycling.) My emotions also know ;) that only stuck-up snobs who only moved in–from the suburbs–after some poor local was forced out by developers, think it’s worthwhile to pay loud, road-blocking, smelly “pickup services” instead.

    No pickup service even existed where I live until I dunno a few years ago. Most people here still don’t use one. Nobody has a trash problem though. Because most people here go to the transfer station once a week. “Like normal people.” ;)

    More seriously…trash pickup isn’t your issue…once “a month or two” is.

    “Why would anyone who can’t afford trash pickup live in this neighborhood? There are cheaper-but-still-nice neighborhoods nearby.”

    Aaaand there went my emotions again. Because paying for trash pickup is not normal, how dare you assume that anyone who could afford it would just do it, Jesus H. Christ what kind of wastrel are you, you probably set your furnace to 70 degrees in the winter too (and/or have central AC that you set to 70 in the summer)!!!111!!!! ;) (Pie for breakfast Yankee right here.) ;)

    …uh back to your object-level problem. I wonder. Is someone in that house sick? Or could someone pretend that must be the problem? And offer to take their trash to the dump every week “until they’re better”?

    No disagreement with your larger point, though. :)


    • My apologies; I did not mean to offend you. Sorry about that. Obviously you are correct; letting it store up for a month or two is the problem, not the transporting it themselves. (I only reacted, “What do you mean that’s legal?” because in my previous neighborhoods, trash collection was covered by taxes, and of course you’re required to pay taxes.) (Also, from a technical angle, given the density here, it is probably more efficient to have one truck go in and out of the neighborhood once a week than have everyone individually drive in and out. But I have no desire to impose my trash-truck-collection ways on your neighborhood.)

      70? I think my thermostat is permanently set somewhere between 56 and 64. But we do this because my husband is a human polar bear or something.


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