Bags are just a gateway | AspenTimes.com

Bags are just a gateway

The largest expansion of governmental power in my lifetime just occurred.

Note to the people of America: the bag-tax case in which the Colorado Supreme Court ruled the city of Aspen can place a “fee” on the use of paper grocery bags — thereby bypassing the need for voter approval — and ban the use of plastic bags entirely, has absolutely nothing to do with bags. Bags are simply a talisman which magically opened up a whole universe of social control through tax policy which is now laid out for your future.

Americans can’t seem to grasp that we live under a system, like most others, where government can do whatever it pleases so long as its actions are not opposed. We are blessed with a larger than average number of tools for opposition, a fact which is irrelevant if they are not employed.

Residents of Aspen had an obligation to the rest of us to either recall or vote from office those officials who instituted the bag “tax” (there is no longer any great need to distinguish between taxes and fees, so I won’t bother). Given the totalitarian leanings of our state Supreme Court, the judicial challenge that was filed seemed to be for the purpose of losing — thereby gaining the court’s blessing for the scheme — and pre-empting more sincere challenges in other venues.

The civic indifference of Aspenites has now saddled every citizen of the state with another erosion of TABOR, while adding even more incentives for government excess and abuse.

It is beyond preposterous that “they” would choose grocery bags as an example of a single item in the total waste stream that causes such exceptional costs to bury or recycle that it was worthy of special pricing. Inherent from the beginning was the official assessment that you don’t really “need” a grocery bag of the disposable sort, and that your wants are not worthy of consideration. It is the public’s tacit acceptance of this new regulatory standard which is so bone-chilling. What are people thinking? Is everyone on happy meds? Are there to be no limits on the reach or extremes of selective taxation?

The granular application of taxation (especially when tied to a rationale of social value or practical necessity) is the power to destroy. What product on which shelf is not a potential target of this newly expanded analysis? How much is the true cost of an alcoholic drink? Does anyone really need hairspray? etc., and you begin to see why everyone in this country has a stake in this issue.

And for those of you who think I’m only ever interested in the Entrance to Aspen: Whatever amount they are planning to charge people to drive into town, they certainly won’t need to ask the voters beforehand.

Jeffrey Evans

Basalt


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