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Friday, September 5, 2008

The Bag Tax--a Long Train of Abuses

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wants to force all shoppers to pay a twenty cent tax whenever they receive disposable bags — paper and plastic — at a grocery store. This is not all. Mayor Nickels has also proposed banning foam food containers and cups at food-service businesses starting Jan. 1, and Non-recyclable plastic food containers and utensils by 2010. Here's how the money would be spent:
"Seattle Public Utilities would collect the bag fee from stores. The utility estimates it would bring in $10 million per year. About $2 million would be used to provide and promote reusable bags. The rest would be spent on waste prevention, recycling and environmental education programs."
What is it with these guys? It's not enough just to tax us coming and going. Now the residents of Seattle (but most likely their grade schoolers) will have to be "re-educated" with the very money that was extracted from them at the grocery store. As with all taxes of this nature, the true purpose is to give the mayor a massive slush fund to promote his radical big government ideology. Is it possible that pulling $10 million out of family's already tight budgets is not a good idea? Is it possible that most of this money will end up being squandered at city hall? If the "tobacco settlement" is any indicator, this money will slowly get lost in the city budget--some of it going to golf courses and pot holes--but most of it being awarded to the mayor's friends (in exchange for campaign contributions, of course).

Furthermore, Nickels reveals the single goal of the environmental movement--the growth of government. For the enviro-Marxist, "global warming" is just the latest reason for the government to control more and more of your money and your life. Sometimes it's "for the children," sometimes it's "for the planet," but the solution is always the same--greater taxes and more government regulation.

Now, instead of endless supplies of free trash can liners, the government will force us to drag around some filthy canvas bags in our trunk for the rest of our lives. Is this a huge inconvenience? For those of you living in Europe or in an American 'blue state,' probably not, but a long train of abuses and usurpations such as these can, and will, eventually reduce Americans under a state of absolute despotism. Man cannot remain free so long as the government may, by a million little cuts, arbitrarily rob him of the value of his labor.

Every time the government introduces another program or regulation, its effect is always to increase our costs of living. If you think that regulations like the bag tax are isolated incidents and that they will only increase your budget by a minuscule amount, then think again. If you ever plan on purchasing a home in Seattle you might want to take a stand right now. An intriguing new analysis by a University of Washington economics professor argues that home prices, also, have been driven up $200,000 by such good environmental intentions:
"Between 1989 and 2006, the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house rose from $221,000 to $447,800. Fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations, says Theo Eicher — twice the financial impact that regulation has had on other major U.S. cities. In a nationwide study, it can be shown that Seattle is one of the most regulated cities and a city whose housing prices are profoundly influenced by regulations."
Do you want to buy an affordable house? Don't count on it. Do you want do buy affordable gasoline? Don't count on it. Do you want affordable medical care? Don't count on it. The long train of abuses (costs imposed by the government) slowly add up until you neither have money nor manumission.


acte gratuit said...

Hey listen...I'm really REALLY sorry I signed you guys up to get recycle bins!

Josephus said...

How's it going? Recycling, at least where we live, is still optional. I'm fine with that, but does the government have to force us, through taxation or otherwise, to live the way some dumb bureaucrat thinks best?

Bastiat said...

I wonder if the resultant behavioral changes will cause more problems than the targeted nefarious grocery bag. More frequent trips to the store, damaged produce, shopping at stores outside of city limits to avoid the hassle, ...