It’s not about the bags
August 10, 2011
The Aspen Times’ summary of the concerns of opponents of fees on plastic and paper bags at grocery stores as “another case of government intervening where it doesn’t belong” is stunningly shallow.
The strongest evidence of the magnitude of the problem with this proposal is the reluctance by the Times to report what the controversy is really about. For starters, the proposed bag “fee” has absolutely nothing to do with plastic or paper bags.
Colorado is a state where new taxes are only allowed with voter approval; the point and purpose of this new “fee” is to build a detour around that requirement. By attacking something so trivial (approximately 6 grams of plastic), local governments have made it obvious that they expect this action to lay the groundwork for as many new fees as your imagination can conjure, each with its own progressively more preposterous rationalization.
Contempt for state constitutional tax law, along with the condescending and offensive implication that elected officials must punish their bad children if we choose to use the wrong products, makes the pretense of “representing” the public obsolete. If hundreds of irate citizens show up at upcoming public meetings to protest this power grab it will have absolutely no effect – except to confirm how much we are in need of guidance from our superiors.
There is no cure for this mindset but one: Stop electing these people!
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Equally repugnant is the spectacle of Kroger acquiescing to a proposed bribe, paid to them from the new “fee” (combined with the savings from what is now a standard cost of doing business – providing a bag), to keep their mouths shut and their lawyers on a leash. The short-term gain this shortsighted company is about to realize will be a distant memory when the rest of the teeth in this brand-new approach to social engineering eventually bites them on their corporate butt.
For those who can’t let go of bags as the relevant subject of this debate, it is worth noting that my household hasn’t purchased any small plastic bags since some self-proclaimed environmentalists first demanded that grocery stores provide them. We regularly reuse these “single-use” bags to line small trash cans, remove the contents of the kitty litter, keep trash off the highway, and my personal favorite – gather up the assorted cans and bottles in the kitchen before taking them to the recycle bin.
If the new “fee” is imposed we will once again be buying larger and stronger garbage bags to replace the ones we now get for free – for less than half the price of the proposed “fee.” The brilliance of our local government officials almost makes one squint.
But not to worry, in order to prevent our store-bought bags from becoming “single-use,” I intend to keep a roll of them in my vehicle so I’ll have bags to carry groceries home.