Monday, December 22, 2008


It’s amazing what people focus on in order to avoid having to deal with really serious problems. Psychologists see this phenomenon all the time, where toilet seats and personal ticks become the ostensible reason for huge rows out of all proportion to the alleged offense.

The same mind-games apply in the world of politics. While public budgets and economic activity in California are going to heck in a handbasket, politicians in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and now San Diego are focusing on matters of monumental triviality—such as the urgent need to ban those ultra-thin plastic bags that stores have used for decades.

A committee of the San Diego City Council recently passed a resolution (2-1) to support a ban of these grave environmental hazards that apparently aren’t biodegradable and allegedly have damaged some marine animals. Encinitas is considering a similar proposal.

For retrograde heathens who might persist in the sinful habit of toting their groceries in paper bags, a 25-cent fee per bag is being considered. This “fee” (not a tax, of course) has also been pondered by our nothing-else-to-do state legislators. Perhaps these geniuses hope to close California’s 12 to 20 billion dollar budget deficit with this new assessment—thus balancing their books on the back of seniors who have enough trouble getting purchases from the check-out counter to their deadly carbon-emitting vehicles.

The words of Gaia priestess and city council member Donna Frye sums up the over-the-top argument against these dastardly petro-gauzes: “The fact of the matter is that when you think that almost every single piece of the planet probably has a piece of plastic on it, at some level you have to start asking yourself, 'Is that the kind of planet we want to pass on to our kids?’”

Personally, I can remember when these gossamer-thin containers were considered the P.C. thing to ask for—as opposed to those evil (but biodegradable) paper bags that only “wascally Wepublicans” were insensitive enough to use. Now our cultural commissars want to give us a new choice: Bring your own reusable bag or pay 25 cents for each paper bag.

This polyethylene crisis came upon us quite suddenly, and alternatives to an outright ban have been considered as little as objections raised by that large chorus of scientists who reject global warming alarmism.

What about those biodegradable organic-based bags? What about recycling alternatives? How about providing some definitive evidence of the grave environmental damage done by those wispy polyethylene sacks that have the great virtue of sealing up refuse thrown in trash bins at apartment complexes—thus reducing the bins’ allure to flies and minimizing wind-blown debris?

On the other hand, in the midst of a significant recession with ballooning budget deficits and out of control pension obligations, what better issue for clueless politicians to tackle than plastic bag pollution. Maybe the matter can even be placed on the next ballot as a constitutional amendment—alongside urgent global warming, cow flatulence legislation.

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