Saturday, September 15, 2007

Plastic Bags: Those Pesky Things

Busy in Mrs. Politics' family (second wedding in 2 weeks)...must make a post....letter to the editor about plastic bags!

Regarding the proposal by Alderman Sam Shropshire, D-Ward 7, to ban plastic bag distribution in Annapolis:


A Safeway lobbyist reportedly called Mr. Shropshire's bill un-American, saying it would take choices away from consumers.

Sounds about accurate.

I agree with Safeway.


Being an American is truly about our right of choice, and I would like the choice to live in Maryland without plastic bags whirling from car to car, collecting in the marshes or our shorelines, or coloring our ditches, where they are removed by highway cleanup crews we pay for with our tax dollars.

Tricky! I took Safeway's own words, and turned them around a bit, using sarcasm. OK, I'm with you. This is more of a right than a choice, and if you want to address this problem, we should try and find a way to stop the PEOPLE who litter.

Also, we could be so lucky as to have our tax dollars pay for is some of what your tax dollars have bought in Annapolis:

-a proposal to ban plastic bags.
-a mayor that refused to fill 23 vacancies on the police department while homicides are on a record pace
-a bill in support of a midshipman—an issue that falls under U.S. Navy jurisdiction.
-increases in property tax receipts over past 4 years (2004-2007 proj.) of $4.89 million: average of 7.2% per year!
-Market House! Elimination of city history and character, 2 years of vacancy, loss of parking spaces, poor project supervision, inadequate HVAC design that is still not fixed
-$30,000 for flowers downtown
-apology for slavery

This choice is what is so great about America, and what is so poor about Safeway's perspective.

Giant got it Wrong too when spokesman Barry Sher said that the ban "sounds good until you consider the cost". Rather than ban plastic bags, he would have Annapolis enforce its existing litter laws.

Enforcing existing laws sounds like a fabulous solution, or at least a fabulous first step before we go banning things.

Giant is offering a solution for a symptom of the problem--littering--instead of the cause: distribution of plastic bags at the checkout counter.

I feel like this.

I have never seen such a precisely wrong statement in my life. LITTERING IS THE PROBLEM--IT IS NOT THE SYMPTOM. Plastic bags do not get up, stroll to the rivers, and jump in--they are put there by people!

To say that the problem is having plastic bags available at the checkout counter is a defiance of reason only equalled by your previous claim. You must also believe the following things to be true:

"Speeding is a symptom--the cause is allowing people to buy cars."

"Paedophilia is just a symptom--the cause is the internet that gives these people access to children."

"Assault is just a symptom--the cause is God because he gave us fists to hit people."

By your logic, we should ban cars and the Internet, and cut off everybody's right arm so if we wanted to assault somebody, at least it would be with our weak hand!

See the point? It is problems with people that cause violations of the law.

The total cost should be taken into account. This includes everything from extracting petroleum and natural gas, to making plastic, transporting the bags, and disposing of them.

Agreed--and the total cost of plastic bags is at least the same as paper bags, if not better.

One hundred billion plastic bags are made each year in the United States. In 2005, about 95 percent of them were not recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Giant does not want us to know that the hidden cost to the environment is the reason the bags are so cheap.

What kind of economic reasoning is this? The following is NOT the way a production meeting at Giant would go:

"Bill, how much is it costing us to buy these plastic bags?"
"Well, Ray, the raw materials costs have gone up by 31%"
"Fine then. Jenkins, tell marketing to raise the prices for milk and ice cream by 31%."
(A faint, but stern, voice is heard in the background. It's Cynthia:)
"Wait! Our bags harm the environment. We can keep prices the same as long as we keep this cost a secret."
(All:) "Right-O. Let's play golf."

Pollution is an externality of production, not a cost of production.

Mr. Shropshire's bill offers voters a choice. What could be more American than that?

Did I miss something? Before, we could choose from bags A, B, and C. (Their real names have been withheld to protect the innocent.) Now we can choose from bags A, or B. Unless this is "opposite day", our choice has been limited.

(Note to readers: One time, in third grade, I was informed by one of my classmates that it indeed was 'opposite day'. The very next thing he told me was that it was not 'opposite day'. I have been quite confused ever since.)

For a more comprehensive analysis of the plastic bag bill, click here. The bottom line is this: we all like the environment, but there are much better places to start than a ban on plastic bags.

1 comment:

grizzwhitchick said...