Politics and Plastic Bags

It boggles my mind how a candidate for City Council in Texas’ capital city can focus so much of his campaign platform on plastic bags. Yes, plastic bags. Of the five key things Jay Wiley hopes to accomplish in office, he wants District 6 to be known for repealing the ban on single-use plastic bags that took effect over a year ago. I figure there are so many bigger issues we could be focused on, like ensuring access to basic services (housing, jobs, education, transportation, healthcare, etc.) for our community’s most underserved residents but, sadly, Jay doesn’t quite see it that way. In fact, Wiley disguises the plastic bag ban under the category of “boutique issues,” and then immediately blames our current Council with “ignoring core city issues and taxpayers’ concerns for far too long.” Does anyone else see the irony here?

In his February blog post titled, “It’s Not About the Bag,” Wiley sees the bag ban as a gateway drug of sorts, one that will eventually cause the local government to regulate other more important things like soda (I kid you not!). He even implies that Austin is becoming prohibitively expensive because of public policies like the bag ban.

Before I go on, I’ll admit I get where he’s trying to come from. A good majority of Americans are cynical about the role of government—whether federal, state or local. It can seem that government is getting too big, stepping into roles it was never meant to occupy, taking on debts it has no business racking up. But one of the fundamental things Jay Wiley (and others) seem to ignore about the private sector is that it often fails.

Companies fail at doing all sorts of things that promote the health, safety and welfare of our residents. They fail at building housing that service-sector employees can afford. They fail at ensuring our foods aren’t filled with unnecessary preservatives and chemicals that have been banned in other developed nations. They fail at mitigating the environmental damage caused by industrial waste and sprawling development to our natural resources. They fail at building infrastructure that serves everyone from the wealthy childless couple to the wheelchair-bound grandmother whose fixed income no longer affords her the “freedom” of a car. And they fail at helping us kick our addiction to disposable goods—whether that be Styrofoam packaging, small electronics, and, yes, even single-use plastic bags.

Thus, the government steps in and becomes the bad guy, requiring us to do the sorts of things we have refused to do for ourselves. So now, we battle over plastic bags.

I do agree with one thing he says on his website, though: “the result of…bad policy is clear in every tax bill, energy bill, and the traffic we endure every day.” Those policies that encourage the development of sprawling suburbs like Wiley’s District 6 are what contribute to the very things he laments—and the market failures I mentioned above. Plastic bags are merely collateral damage.

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11 responses to “Politics and Plastic Bags”

  1. Will McLeod says :

    Name one government program that is successful, and turns a profit? I’M WAITING, SMART PERSON…..And no I will not hold my breath.

    Did you know that the New York Subway was not built by the Government?

    Please answer my questions without dodging them.

      • Will McLeod says :

        Student Loans? NICE TRY. If that was true we wouldn’t be $17.075 trillion in debt. Student loan debt totals $1.2 trillion in the United States, twice what it was in 2007. Doesn’t sound like a successful government program to me.

        Sorry Cory, that’s not a successful government program that is turning a profit. To turn a profit you got to be in the black and not the red.

      • orangeelvis says :

        Student Loans? You mean the “automatic acceptance” loans that let pretty much let every college and university hike their tuition rates at 2-3 times the rate of inflation the last 30 years? The loans that are milstones around the neck of an entire generation? Loans that cannot be written off even if one files bankruptcy for perfectly legitimate reasons? Studen Loans would actually be one of the prime examples of how well-intended programs under gov’t supervision become bloated, abused and harmful programs. Freddy and Fanny say “hi!”

    • Not Wiley says :

      The UT College Football program

      • Will McLeod says :

        If the UT College Football program was so successful, we would not be funding the University of Texas through taxpayer dollars. I will commend you however, for trying to answer the question. Also, there would be no need to continue the bleeding through the Medical School Tax that UT wanted. Take a look at your property taxes, that is if you are not exempted under State law, and ask the Travis County Appraisal District where the money goes, and you will be surprised that some of that actually goes to the University of Texas.

        Another words UT operates under our tax revenue as a State agency of higher education, and our Federal taxpayer dollars also foot a great portion of it.

        To be a successful government program, it has to run in the black, and not require any debt from the taxpayers. If it ran in the black it should be able to pay for itself. UT doesn’t pay for itself.

  2. Tex Cartright says :

    Mr. Wiley Coyote is wasting his time even talking about repealing the bag ban in Austin.

    • Will McLeod says :

      Maybe you can answer my question, since you seem to be the expert about time management.
      Cory tried and unfortunately didn’t come up with the correct answer.
      Cartright, it’s your turn.

  3. Biff says :

    The bag ban should be repealed. Why does the left always try to enforce its utopianist schemes by force of law? I’m pro-choice when it comes to using plastic bags. It should be my decision, not the governments. The funny part is that the leftists who run Austin are complaining that the State of Texas might step in declare their precious ban illegal – they complain that the state shouldn’t “interfere,” but they don’t my interfering in MY personal decision, do they?

    Good for Wiley. Government is not the answer to every problem and this idiotic ban needs to be wiped out. Enough big brother and laws stuffed dwon our throats by the envirowacko lefists.

    • Stopthefood Tax says :

      The banning of the bag with the smallest footprint for heavier plastic and germy reusable bags is insanity. The market should be able to choose whether to supply the customer with the bag or not. Not somebody who doesn’t even do their own shopping.

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