Yesterday I was driving home on 101, or as Southern Californians say, the 101, and I couldn't help but notice all the crap alongside the road. There was so much trash, mostly pale plastic stuff, that it almost felt like this might be where someone keeps his crap. Like someone, somewhere, asked himself, "Where would be a good place to put all my used plastic bottles, coffee cups, torn grocery bags, cigarette butts, pieces of broken appliances, all the stuff I don't want anymore? No monthly storage unit rent, no dumpster cost, no hauling fee... all that unused space is just sitting there waiting to be used for my junk. For free!"
It's embarrassing. It's depressing. It's very, very demoralizing. The word 'litter' is way too cute for this collection of junk. 'Litter' sounds like newborn pups, or aristocratic transport, as in, "The maharaja was carried on a litter supported by four strong servants." 'Litter' does not capture the miles and miles of garbage that cover our country. Can't something be done about this? Wouldn't this be an excellent use of government money to put people back to work? Oh, where's Lady Bird Johnson when you need her?
I propose a national initiative to clean up our country. This is maybe a version of the cleanup of Times Square, in which pre-cleanup Times Square was crime ridden and unsafe, and post-cleanup Times Square was so packed with tourists and theatergoers you could hardly walk. A cleanup crew could also be the advance team for infrastructure work. They could inventory potholes, broken guardrails, rusted bridge supports, etc. so we minimize the number of bridge collapses in our future. And the fine for throwing your stuff on our world? One month on the cleanup crew, sans pay.
By the way, a number of years ago I was driving behind a garbage truck taking our collective crap to the dump and items were just blowing off the top of that truck. Maybe we could look at the garbage trucks, too, and make sure that when we do put our trash in the can, it actually ends up where it's going. Fines for waste disposal executives who allow unsecured trucks to scatter our trash hither and yon: six months on the road crew.