Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't Study It! Pick It Up!

Well, fortunately or unfortunately, the US isn't the only country that wastes money on studies that are completely useless and unnecessary. I learned that after the fine folks over there across the pond at The Mail Online ran an article about the problem that England has with keeping it's streets clean and free of litter. Apparently, while the US is over here in financial turmoil waiting for the entire banking system to implode upon itself, England is thinking that they could be a little neater. Must be rough.

There was a government commissioned survey "of all 353 district councils in England" and it was performed by (get this) "the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs." Did they run out of departments over there in England and so they just had to cram as many as they could into one? Rural affairs (Not sure what that entails. Unfaithful farmers, perhaps?), food AND the environment, all regulated together in perfect harmony (and given the oh-so-catchy acronym "DEFRA"). Or something like that. Seems like an odd combination to me, but so did Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. Let's hope that the rural-food-environment combo turns out better than that three legged union did.

According to the ridiculous report (the reason for the ridiculous tag will be obvious shortly), "The report found that all councils were judged to have fly-tipping and graffiti under control." I had no idea what fly-tipping was. I assumed it was like cow-tipping, only requiring much more fine motor coordination and dexterity. I was wrong. Fly-tipping is dumping garbage where you're not supposed to. Where they got "fly-tipping" out of that is beyond me. But where ever it came from, it seems to be under control if you're asking any of the people in that survey. If you're asking people who did not participate in that survey (such as myself), you might get a different answer.

Now, here's where the necessity of such a study comes into question. The study being to find out if there is a problem with litter in England. I'm assuming they went with a study because they didn't know if there was a problem or not. Below is a photo of a street in England that accompanied the story. Remember, they weren't sure if they had a problem with litter. Behold! The situation that they couldn't figure out without a study!

OK, England, WTF? You needed a study to figure out if the scene above had a problem with litter? Yeah, that one's a stumper all right. Hmmmm....I don't know. I can see why you went the scientific route there. Who knows? Hard to tell! NO! No it's not! That street is a disaster! You people are living like barbarians! Or animals! You're living like barbaric animals! What? You people don't have Hefty bags over there? For God sakes, have a little respect for yourselves, for cryin' out loud. That's disgusting.

Now according to someone from the Local Government Association, "'This sort of survey is important to bring these issues into the public consciousness, and help councils make the streets better for local people." Oh, good! I'm glad that's the reason, because I could see how an issue such as this could get LOST in one's consciousness (as they're climbing over heaps and heaps of garbage to get to their car). Yeah, the Brits would have forgotten all about that pesky trash problem if it hadn't been for the study to bring it to their attention! Thank goodness for government!

Speaking of the government, the Environment Minister (They have a Minister of the Environment over there? Everything has to have a fancy title if it's British, doesn't it?), a one Jonathan Shaw, stated, 'It's not just down to our local authorities - everyone has a part to play in keeping our streets clean - there's much more we can all do to cut down on litter." Do ya think?! Then he added, "'I hope this information will also encourage people to think more carefully about how they treat their local environment.' Yeah, because without this information, who knows what could happen? People might never know that they are living like what? Barbaric animals, that is correct.

But it's not like they don't have ANY cracking down on those who are contributing to the refuse-like conditions of the streets in England. Oh, no, they do fine individuals who are caught doing the littering. Here are some of the examples that The Mail Online provided for us:

See, if I had seen that before I went out and started commissioning a bunch of studies, I would have probably just suggested that those in charge of all the citing and all of the fining just not be so damned concerned with trivial minutiae (as shown above) and try and find those who are dumping large quantities of trash in inappropriate places. I mean, seriously, they're going to spend their time fining 2 children, a care worker and a 24-year old dude for an ice cream stick, an apple core, a French fry and two pieces of junk mail that were IN A TRASH CAN, and in exchange, the streets will look like they do. Fabulous.

Good plan there, England. How's that working for you? Oh, right. Yeah, I forgot that you'd probably need a study to figure it out. When you get the results back, let me know how it went. I'm sure I'll be shocked at the results. Or not. Yeah, probably not. Good luck with that.

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