I went to a Safeway in Mill Valley because it was convenient. When I got to the check-out, I was reminded why I never shop at that Safeway: their town council banned plastic bags and you get charged five cents per bag for a paper bag. Next year, all of the stores in Marin County will be subject to these rules. I have no words for how much I loathe this liberal police state law. Let me count the ways:
Let me begin by saying that the problem isn’t that I’m being charged five cents per bag. I’m cheap, but I’m not that cheap. I’ve understood since I was a child that stores don’t really give bags away for free. Instead, the cost of bags is folded into the prices they charge. I’m paying not only for the groceries, but also for the staff, the facility, the shopping carts, and the bags. I therefore don’t mind stores such as Goodwill that charge for bags as a way to keep their overhead down. That’s a business decision, and I’m happy then to make my own decision: Do I want to pay the ten cents or will I just make do without a bag? After all, I don’t need to go to Goodwill. I can do without cheap books or I can find them at other stores (or online).
The five cents per bag charge at Mill Valley (and soon, all Marin) stores irks me because it’s not a business decision. It’s punitive. The local governments are punishing me for having the temerity to use a paper bag. Moreover, once it goes Marin-wide, I can’t avoid it, unless I want to drive 50 or 60 miles to a fascism-free county.
As it happens, I adore paper bags. I’m forced to use a recycling bin and paper bags are an easy way to collect recycling. They can go right into the bin along with the recycled refuse filling the bag. Paper bags also make great packing material, covers for textbooks, stable (non-tippy) bags in which to carry food to potlucks or school events, fireplace starters, etc. I’ve already paid for them by paying a higher price for my groceries than I would in a store (e.g., Goodwill) that says “We keep prices down to help save you money.” Marin stores, though, are being forced to say, we charge you money to punish you.
There are two alternatives to paying a fine to use a paper bag: You can bring your own, or you can toss individual items into the car (as you do at Costco). I’m going to opt for the latter. I refuse to become a bag lady. I will not be forced to buy bags, which I then need to remember to carry around with me wherever I go, and which I need to remember to wash regularly so I don’t poison my family. As to that last point, washing bags means that I’m doing an extra load of laundry every week, which means increased water and electricity use. Surely that can’t be green.
I go crazy when I see all the liberal drones in Marin dragging around their little bags. It makes me feel as if I’m living in a third world country. They look like derelicts. They’re feeling righteously smug, and I’m looking at them and thinking that they’ve been brainwashed to accept a Zimbabwe lifestyle. (Let me say here that, while I don’t agree with them, if people want to do this, I applaud them. Why? Because they’re freely making a decision and it works for them. That’s how life in a free country should be.)
Bottom line: The bag ban forces me to buy a product I don’t want or to pay a penalty. It is a microcosm of Obamacare. It is a denial of free will, it perverts the marketplace, and it is an unforgivable form of coercion against a free citizenry.