I’m still grumbling about the bag bans that have spread from Mill Valley, to all of Marin and now, thanks to those Democrats in the state legislature, to the whole of California. To begin with, I really hate having my government tell me and the merchants from whom I buy what can and cannot be bought and sold (or given away) in the free market. Yes, governments have always placed prohibitions on the sale of some things, but nothing will ever convince me that my brown paper bag is the equivalent of heroine, cigarettes, or girly magazines.
The next thing that bugs me is this coercive government effort to turn me into a bag lady. To all those smug Marinites who march into stores laden with bags advertising other stores, you don’t look cool. You look like this:
As my little illustration at the head of this post shows, I also hate the fact that my government is foisting disease on me. You see, it turns out that, not only are bag bans environmentally pointless, they force people to use bags that become disease vectors. I find this especially disturbing because I seem to be vulnerable to food poisoning. The only way to avoid that problem is to wash the reusable bags which (a) isn’t environmentally sound’ )(b) means I often forget them at home, and (c) shortens their lives, making them ridiculously costly.
And here’s what really hacks me about the new ban in California: If I forget my salmonella sack when I go shopping, I have to pay 10 cents for the same brown bag the stores once gave away as part of their service. That 10 cents isn’t because the merchant wants to charge, it’s because the government wants to punish me. That makes me crazy.
My current plan is to buy paper bags and have them in my car all the time. I can then bring them into the market with me, fill them up, take them into my house, and then reuse them (as I have for years) for storing garbage that needs to be recycled, for packing food to take to potlucks, for wrapping items for shipping, etc.
California’s already a lost cause, but for those states that are merely contemplating a bag ban, how about something different, something that involves merchant cooperation, rather than government coercion.
We all know that nothing is really free and that those “free” bags I’ve been enjoying for years actually cost the merchants money, a cost they pass on to the consumer. The current, government-mandated situation in California has the merchant say to me “You don’t get the bag you’re used to unless you pay a 10 cent penalty.” Coercion. Yuck!
How about having the merchant say this instead: “In order to save you money, we have a new program in place: If you bring your own bags, we will immediately refund you X percent of your purchase price.” Incentive! Yay! In terms of bags, communities will probably see the same end result (fewer disposable bags), but shoppers will be empowered, rather than coerced and demeaned.
Oh, and I told you about an idea I have for juvenile records. Currently, juvenile records are sealed when someone hits 18. That’s why conservatives, while they have reason to believe that Michael Brown, Ferguson’s gentle giant, had a youthful rap sheet, can’t prove it.
I don’t disagree with the theory behind sealing juvenile records: For those youngsters who fall into bad habits, and then are scared straight after being in the system, a clean slate is an important part of their redemption. The question is why youthful recidivists should benefit from that same clean slate theory. They’re not trying to put their sins behind them. They’re planning on going forth and sinning some more.
If I could, I would amend the laws to say that, once a kid hits, say, 15 years old, if that kid has three or more juvenile convictions after his/her 15th birthday, those convictions become matters of public record. I don’t know if that would entice youthful offenders to clean up their acts, but it would certainly warn the rest of us when a recidivist criminal youngster is going to burst forth upon the adult world.