Show me the money (in a plastic bag)
Let’s frame the debate concerning plastic grocery bags. It is not about whether they have an adverse environmental impact (they do); it is not about whether Aspen in a continuing effort to advance a green agenda should take steps to ban or at a minimum reduce their usage (it should); it is not even about the amount of a proposed tax (which will not have a substantive impact toward reducing usage); but rather, it is whether the imposition of any tax is the way to proceed.
In yet another example of the bottomless hypocrisy we have come to expect, our elected leaders jumped immediately in favor of creating a cash cow and have abandoned a principled objective. The issue to the city is money first; Torre’s laudable idea to ban plastic grocery bags and achieve immediate environmental gain was trashed in favor of an income stream.
The city encouraged discussion and I inquired with a few straightforward questions, i.e., how much will the city take off the top for administrative/overhead expenses; how many people will be hired to implement the program; what will happen to any revenue in excess of costs used to establish the “educational program”? Reproduced in brackets that follow is the response to date. [ ]. That’s it, nothing. City Hall obviously does not want any focus on windfall it expects to receive.
If Aspen wants to show leadership, as opposed to merely talking, the City Council would immediately disavow a tax and divine an innovative solution we can all get behind and be proud of. That is probably asking too much since the obvious tunnel vision of the city envisions nickel and diming every resident and visitor to death.
Neil B. Siegel
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