Monday, February 22, 2010

'Paper or Plastic' Now Equals Money and Power

I’ve always said if you follow the money, you will eventually find the truth in many circumstances. With the new “Green Movement,” it is becoming more obvious everyday that the motives behind these seemingly altruistic or “Earth friendly” policies are about nothing more than two things: Money, and the power it brings.

Case in point - Washington, D.C. last month enacted a new law mandating that any store where you can buy edible items, like grocery stores, now have to charge for the bags you use to carry home your purchases, which were once free.

For decades, the standard question at U.S. grocery store checkout counters has been "Paper or Plastic?" However, since January, consumers in the U.S. capital have faced a different question: "Will you pay 5 cents for a bag?" The capital city's decision to charge for bags is supposedly an effort to raise money to clean the Anacostia River.

However, they aren’t mandating the 5 cents a bag charge for just the normal plastic bags that are the target of the “Greenies,” who say they aren’t biodegradable and hurt the planet, but for ALL bags, including the biodegradable paper ones. Can you say revenue stream? I thought you could.

Looks to me like just another case of the Nanny State raising its ugly head. The folks are using too many plastic bags? Hell, let’s tax them on ALL bags. Pulling out “the Green Card” will make some of the sheep out there feel good about it and get on board, and the rest… too bad for them. We’re the government. We can do anything we want. It seems to be working for the Global Warming thing and Cap & Trade… let’s keep it rolling!

Free trade? Yeah right. No one ever thinks about letting the individual stores enact their own policy. That, of course, would give people a CHOICE where they decided to shop, and we would find out what the market will bear on any issue. It’s easier to just MANDATE it and make it law… and then reap the benefits of a windfall profit so they have more money to waste and keep them in power.

Don’t care what happens in Washington, D.C.? Think again. Washington's law is the first of its kind in the United States. It is being carefully watched by activists who hope that one strong success will prove the tipping point for a program aimed at furthering their green agenda. San Francisco has already banned plastic bags. They enacted the ban in 2007 and similar legislation is to take effect in July in Los Angeles, where shoppers will be charged 25 cents for a paper or biodegradable one.

However, when cities put it up for a vote, rather than arbitrarily mandating it, things are different. Attempts by other U.S. cities and states to curb the predominance of plastic shopping bags have been rejected, most notably in the eco-friendly West Coast city of Seattle, where voters last August overturned legislation to charge 20 cents per bag.

Keith Christman, Managing Director of Plastics Markets for the American Chemistry Council argues that Seattle's attempt to charge for bags angered residents who were already overwhelmingly recycling and reusing their bags, which he says is the better option.

I have a feeling I know why tree-hugger types in Seattle voted down the measure. They could probably see the handwriting on the wall and the inevitable addendum to the plastic bag issue: Charging 5 cents tax on Starbucks coffee cups, which must contribute to the a lot of the litter in Seattle.

All this and more… coming to a city near you.


  1. Aldi (I'm pretty sure they are national) charges for bags. It's like Sam's Club, where the merchandise is left in the boxes and if there is an empty box or boxes you can grab that free of charge. I take in my own bags, like most do.

    It's a win-win, because they don't have a bagger, they cover the costs of the bags and don't pass the costs of both on to customers in the form of higher merchandise prices, and cheap folks like me recycle/reuse old bags. And this win-win was never mandated by the government!

    The other slick thing they do is have the shopping carts chained together with a lock that takes a quarter inserted in it to get the cart. They never have to pay a kid to get carts, the carts are always returned to the garage so you can retrieve your quarter, so the carts stay in much better shape for longer.

    Who would think a private enterprise comes up with a better solution.

  2. Thanks for commenting John. I don't think Aldi's is entirely national yet, but I have been to them. It's always better when the business makes policy decisions, rather than letting the goverment muck things up, all for a buck.

    I've joined as a follower of your fine blog, and invite you to do the same here at mine.

  3. I recall the first plastic bags I saw in grocery stores was many years ago in Mexico and I thought how silly and inquired why they were used and found out they were cheaper than paper. Years later we caught up because of the green movement. But then something happened--suddenly the plastic bags was bad because it wasn't eco friendly and the paper can back for awhile. Now as you point out they don't care if its paper or plastic they just want the money---follow the money and you find the real greenie!

  4. That's it Ron, doesn't matter if you do something right or wrong, it's all about the money.



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