Litter degeneracy

By Stephen Pollard
May 18, 2007

This piece by Jeff Randall on litter louts and other things which fire his ire is terrific:

The list was long: badly behaved children on aircraft, yobs of any sort, idiots who borrow £1.3 million on a pack of credit cards and then blame lenders for being "irresponsible", cold calls from investment charlatans, companies that have answering machines instead of receptionists, the M25, the London Underground, human rights lawyers who prevent terrorists from being deported, social security cheats and guardians of political correctness.

It was a crescendo of complaint that reached a climax when, finally, I blurted out my pet hate... "litter". Yes, litter.

Now, before you start reminding me that in a world of nuclear weapons, starving children and melting icecaps, there are many worse things to worry about than litter, I agree - but only in theory.

In practice, almost nothing infuriates me more than the dumping of rubbish in public places by selfish litter thugs. Their fouling of our streets, parks and countryside reflects a strain of moral degeneracy that blights a civilised society. It's the disposability of responsibility.

In an overweening welfare state that teaches us to expect someone else to pick up the tab, it's hardly surprising that many expect someone else to pick up the litter. We have created an underclass of takers, not necessarily defined by income (or the lack of it). They know their rights, but have no sense of obligation.

As Jeremy Paxman, the broadcaster, correctly points out, mountains of litter tell us much about the nation we have become. "People, like animals, do not generally foul their own nests. But they feel free to throw rubbish around for much the same reason that morons feel free to vandalise bus shelters - they do not feel the public realm is theirs."


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