Days of Change

New York’s Bag Ban, the Battle for Control | March 8, 2020

I enjoy Left on Left violence, and one current topic is the liberal intelligentsia going after New York for doing their bag ban incorrectly. In California, the “free” bag is no more, but shoppers can get a heftier (slightly reusable) plastic bag for 10 cents. In New York, you can’t buy a plastic bag for any price, but can spend 5 cents for a vastly inferior paper bag like the kind that’s hard to carry and rips open. Apparently, NY decided to go harder as part of their inferiority complex to the largest state.

As in any lefty attack, blaming regular people is on the menu. I’ve seen a couple of articles now claiming that it is much easier to manipulate the masses into using fewer or no bags by just charging a simple 5 cent fee. CNBC went on for a number of paragraphs about how “free” things encourage wasteful behavior. This an other stories have some fundamental things wrong.

  • Complimentary things are not free – You can’t walk into a grocery store and ask for a bunch of “free” bags. Those bags are complimentary, provided at no charge to carry things already purchased. Even back in the paper bag days, stories figured out that putting things in bags increased customer satisfaction.
  • Plastic bags have a purpose – They are a system for transferring groceries from the store to the car and from the car to the home. Most people either bring them back to the collection bin at the store, or more likely, use them for something else. If they throw them away, so what? Landfills exist to be filled.
  • Perception of value – People know that plastic bags are not 5 cents. On Amazon, they are around 2 cents a piece. It may cost the store even less. New York has even stated that there is revenue from this process to fund their agenda. 5 and 10 cents don’t seem like much. That’s why the phrase “nickel and dimed” was coined to explain how it adds up. In this case, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year.
  • This debate is a generation old and the free market decided – I remember when “paper or plastic” was a contentious issue. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade but paper uses trees. Recycling reuses the product, but a lot of energy and chemicals are required. Reusable bags can get dirty and cleaning them requires more energy and chemicals. My mother was staunchly pro-paper. At one time, paper was used for covering books, paper training, making school projects and starting fires. Eventually, people just bough Kraft paper and used the bags with the nice handles for groceries. Now, the government wants to decide. While it can hamper the free market, eventually the market will find a way.

Right now, lawsuits and a mini revolt has led to a moratorium on the bag ban. Maybe the state will have to re-write the law, like they did with the NY SAFE Act and Criminal Justice “reform.”


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