Seattle Voters Reject 20 Cent Tax on Plastic, Paper Bags

By August 21, 2009Taxation

Seattle Times, “Seattle voters don’t buy shopping-bag charge,” reporting on the 58-42 referral vote rejecting the City Council’s 20 cent tax on disposable bags.

The response from a defeated activist is a classic of the art: Blame big business and express disdain for the voters. “Big money can come in and run deceptive scare campaigns, but in the end, people who care will defeat the people who scare,” said Green Bag Campaign spokesman Brady Montz.

So if you voted no, you don’t care? Mr. Montz should read the comments to the Times’ editorial, “Voters reject disposable-bag fee,” to better assess the vox populi. Yes, there’s the usual frothing from the left, but also some quite reasonable explanations for a no vote.

From Seattle Joe: “I voted ‘no’ because I like using the grocery store bags around the house, thus, making them go through several uses before they end up in a landfill. If the ‘yes’ people had their way, I would have to BUY garbage bags, dog-poop bags and lunch sacks. Then, these single-use items would then be disposed of. To some of you, the cost to the pocketbook and environment of single-use garbage bags is fine, but to some of us that cost is too high.”

And from HerrBrahms: “I’m a leftist, cyclist, Bush-hater emeritus who had resolved to vote down the bag tax long before the industry money arrived. I did so for many of the same reasons that I’m reading on this board: the tax would disproportionately hit the poor, the nanny state element, and the fact that I reuse my plastic bags several times each before I finally dispose of their withered remains.”

Herr Brahms also notes a public health consideration, that is, the potential harm from mixing of fresh vegetables and meats in a single bag.

A good point: As we threw one of our canvas bags into the wash last weekend, we noted a noxious residue of banana sludge, flank steak blood, and sugar from the pastries. Mmmmm. Reusable bag.

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