The Bag Ban Scam of California - No on 67, Yes on 65
Ronald Reagan liked to quip, “the problem with our liberal friends isn’t that they’re ignorant; it’s that they know so much that isn’t so.” He developed this observation right here in my beloved California, and if the past year’s fighting over plastics bags is any indication, he was downright prescient.
Environmentalists have always wanted to ban single-use plastic grocery bags as “the greatest threat to the environment” since at least 2005. Presented with the fact that mass-producing paper and reusable bagshas a greater environmental impact, they simply wouldn’t listen. Presented with evidence that reusable bags are more likely to spread food-borne pathogens, they still refused to listen. Presented with the overwhelming evidence that reusable bags create more clutter and disorganize lives more than primarily using single-use bags, they never let it go.
Like nearly all terrible ideas, the bag ban is a product of San Francisco, which banned the bags in 2007. The idea spread to at least 130 California cities before lawmakers gave in and banned the bags statewide in 2014. The details remain murky but widespread opposition to the bag ban from grocers and unions was finally broken, and lo and behold, the result was a reimbursement deal straight from Sacramento - the stores would charge ten cents for reusable and paper bags and the state would reimburse them. Even when the environmentalists win, special interests always get a cut.
Californians will now weigh in on whether to ban the bags or not through Proposition 67.
A recent editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune blindly endorses Proposition 67. The board cites statistics from a litter survey in San Jose in an attempt to prove that bag bans work. However, in Chicago, which recently repealed a California-style ban on recyclable plastic bags, the ban proved a complete failure because consumers used the thicker “reusable” bags the same way they used the traditional bags.
The bag ban sounds like a good idea, in theory, but in practice, it’s a hazardous, costly idea that won’t improve the lives of Californians at all. The legislators wished to impose their will on the state, but, thankfully, Californians have been given the chance to weigh in, and we deserve to know the truth.
Should Californians decide to continue the wasteful, ineffective bag ban, there is no justification in keeping the proceeds from the bag tax for non-environmental purposes. Proposition 65 would guarantee that proceeds from the bag tax would be sequestered for an environmental cause. Forcing Californians to choose hazard and clutter isn’t it.
There is no reason to force all grocers to charge a ten-cent bag fee with no alternative other than to discourage Californians from making the best choice for themselves and their families. But Proposition 67 would do exactly that, and Californians should be guaranteed the revenue goes toward a worthy cause. The only way to justify the continuation of the bag ban and tax is to keep the revenue in a special fund for environmental study and conservation efforts, which is why Californians should vote Yes on 65.
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