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Prohibitions are political

Photo by Caroline McCredie/Getty Images

Folks, today Davis bans light weight plastic bags. According to the Sac Bee on Saturday, quoting various proponents of the two sides on this action, everyone, it seems, has a blinders-on viewpoint. The Grumpy Libertarian wants to point out that some facts are actually observable. Plastic bags are recyclable. They are handy. And they actually save lives. I wrote on this subject in 2013, and I'm putting the text of that article in here for your perusal. Now, plastic bags, which are cheap, are banned, and there is a mandated fee of 10 cents a paper bag. Say goodbye to that fine double bagging at Trader Joe's?

I want to point out that the city council of Davis is doing the usual leftist thing; making decisions for everyone, including those who disagree vehemently, because they have the power to do so. They did it on fireplaces, you may recall. Never mind counseling and persuading, just pass a damned law, or make an executive decision. It's the same "nanny knows best" mentality.

There is some hope. People do have recourse to courts. Look at yesterday's SCOTUS decision regarding Obama's abortion of a health bill (pun intended).

February 10, 2013
Unintended Consequences

I got this from Gina Knauss Lorson on facebook:
"San Francisco passed America's first ban on plastic bags in chain groceries and drugstores in 2007. In a research paper for the Institute for Law and Economics, law professors Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright crunched state and federal data on emergency room admissions and food-borne illness deaths and figured that the San Francisco ban "led to an increase in infections immediately upon implementation."

They found a 46 percent rise in food-borne illness deaths. The bottom line: "Our results suggest that the San Francisco ban led to, conservatively, 5.4 annual additional deaths."

California politicians didn't even bother studying the possible health effects of their anti-bag laws. They were in such a hurry to tell their constituents what's best for them that they forgot to check how their busybody scheme might go wrong."
Thanks, Gina. You've kicked me into a discussion of the unintended consequences of political actions. Often politicians do things that make themselves look good, without any idea of the resulting dynamics in the real world.
Since we're on bags already let's discuss some of the unintended consequences of banning supermarket plastic bags as Sacramento is considering.
People use those bags for bagging household trash, as doggie poop bags, for wrapping glassware being packed, and often bring them into stores that provide recycling bins. (Of course, some folks are careless with them and they also wind up hung on fence wire, flapping in the wind. In Zimbabwe, the plastic bag was once proposed as the national bird, because so many of them were flying about.) But we already have anti-litter laws that are very effective.
Unbagged household trash is more open to the air and to flies in dumpsters than is bagged trash. Also, pets gotta poop, and if you haven't a bag on hand (or in pocket) you are going to let it lie rather than use your hand as a pooper scooper. More fly transmission of teensy passengers!
I use my stock of plastic grocery bags to carry books on rainy days, as emergency, if unsightly, hat protectors, to line wastebaskets, to offer to guests as they take their pooches on necessary walks . . . people with children have similar uses for the nicely water-shedding, disposable devices. I've seen them employed as short-range kiddy galoshes, with the help of those equally ubiquitous newspaper rubber bands.
Far from being a problem, plastic bags are one of the grace notes of our commercial culture. Convenient and cheap.
Senator Rand Paul, grilling an arrogant lady-twit from the EPA, said, "You busybodies have mandated light bulbs that don't light, and require a hazmat team to clean up if they break, because of the mercury in them, and low-flow toilets an adult has to flush three times." (This is a paraphrase, but very close.)
Now, I lived in Santa Barbara when they tried to treat the place like a desert and mandated low-flow toilets back in the seventies. Three flushes is a low estimate. More water use rather than less. Not to mention the nuisance. And the smell.
I'm in my later sixties. I want one hundred watt incandescent light to read by. Those twisty excuses for light bulbs are irritating, inadequate, and leave me, a constant reader, red-eyed on a daily basis. Of course I will, when I have more outlets, simply use several lamps. Same result as the low-flows. But the twisties are environmental polluters with the mercury in them, as well. You know people are just heaving them into the trash, and they are going into landfills, don't you?
When airbags were mandated, they killed kids. So now there are laws on the books that make kids ride facing to the rear, which is disorienting, and may have other unintended consequences we don't realize yet, and they can't ride in front seats. It took years of media suppression of that set of unintendeds for the the airbag industry to "mature."
The war on drugs, ostensibly for the good of the public, has resulted in an immense law enforcement and prosecutorial juggernaut that regularly seizes property, puts low socio-economic youth into the prison system, and encourages criminals to kill, protecting their share of the resultant black market. Tobacco taxes will have, and in some places already are having, similar effects.
Mandated bumper height and weight kept gas mileage low for decades, mandated vehicle structure did and does the same (Do you know you can buy a VW bug equivalent in Mexico for about $3,000, that takes a crusher three tries to smoosh, that can't be imported here because it isn't "sturdy" enough?)
The Grumpy Libertarian says, "Enough." Tell the politicos to stop posturing and to stop telling us what to consume, what to buy, what to use. The market will reward manufacturers and distributors who satisfy our wants. Politicians can only deal with perceived "needs," and they are, sadly, most often wrong.

And another aside, as I grumble into my morning: be wary whenever someone tries to tell you what you "need". That means THEY are determining your requirements and all too often ignoring your desires.

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