Keep your laws off my bags

Benny McFadden

California is again dangerously close to treating it’s consumers like Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg did earlier this year: banning a product instead of holding consumers responsible for their actions.
Bloomberg enacted a ban in New York that forbade fast food restaurants and other food sellers, such as 7-Eleven, from serving customers high sugar sodas in cups of a certain size.  This kind of attitude the government often takes toward the consumer public is extremely insulting.  Suddenly, being obese is treated like a crime in New York, not a medical or lifestyle condition that many people suffer from in this country.
Following the heels of Los Angeles’ “phase-out” policy on plastic bags, and City of Solana Beach’s ban on one-time use of plastic bags in grocery stores and other food establishments, the California state assembly is hoping to ban plastic bags in stores statewide before the end of the year.
No one likes litter, especially in our ocean and park lands.  However, the choices that consumers make is what drives our economy.  Banning a child’s toy because it has been proven to be dangerous is one thing.  People who do not properly reuse or recycle the massive amounts of plastic accumulated from bagging their food is part of a larger, inconsiderate and non-caring consumer culture.
A ban on plastic bags may cut down on some of the litter that ends up on our beaches or wetlands. But the fact that Styrofoam cups are still a cheap alternative to paper questions which priority is being place first: saving the environment, or political showboating and elbow rubbing prior to future votes and elections?
In politics, there are many times when complex issues are dealt with in extremely reactionary and simple ways. If there should be a ban on anything, it should be on plastic and other materials prohibited from being produced for certain uses. Punishing consumers and businesses because they have an affordable alternative to paper bags is, in my opinion, not what our government should be investing it’s time in.
This is similar to cigarette taxes that target consumers instead of the manufacturers of tobacco. Ever since the early twentieth century there has been a culture of political elite that solve every problem they encounter with prohibitions, or going to “war” against societal illnesses or conditions, such as Bloomberg’s war on fat people.
A ban on the size of your soda or the kind of material you are allowed to carry your groceries in may seem like good ideas to voters with a progressive conscience, but what’s next? A ban on how much sugar you are allowed to put into recipes you bake at home? Or a war on all non-degradable, environmentally dangerous substances, like, used car oil?
I agree that something must be done to stop people from throwing waste, any waste, not just plastic, into the street and onto the beach. Banning one individual product with possible fines for small business owners and consumers that do not comply with the new guidelines is another loophole for local governments to force on the consumer public their 21st Century version of sin tax.