Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Paper or Plastic?

Posted by Warren Peterson on August 2, 2008

The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance six to one (two absent) to impose a twenty-cent fee if you request a paper or plastic bag at the grocery store checkout. More hassle for the public, more paperwork for the store, more bureaucrats for the City, it’s just your nanny government at work. Newbie City Council Member Tim Burgess made the classic frog in warming water statement when he said, “I think after a few months of legislation, we will wonder what all the fuss is about. Same as when we moved to mandatory recycling.” Well, not quite Tim. Separating my refuse into two containers rather than one hardly compares to having to carry a dozen cloth bags in my car just in case I purchase a large amount of groceries. If my family has more than one car, make that two-dozen. No one needs twelve bags you say; stand in line behind someone shopping for a family of four? The plastic bags I don’t use for trashcan liners get recycled plus I don’t have to wash them, using all that precious water, soap and electricity.

If you don’t like all this, vote them out. The problem is, short of a major scandal, the reelection rate is very high. In Seattle, tossing out one liberal council member only gets one just as Left for a replacement. Mr. Burgess defeated an incumbent but little changed as far as a voting record is concerned.

Thanks to the Populists who wrote the Seattle City Charter, there is a remedy in Article IV to the bag issue and other related silliness. It’s called the initiative. Get 17,967 people (ten percent of the number of votes cast for Mayor in the last election) to sign an initiative repealing the bag ordinance, a majority to vote for it, and the Council may get the message.

Remember the frog. Put in a pan of water and heated slowly on the stove, he hardly notices the warming water until it’s too late and he’s cooked. Bonfires on the beach, fast food restaurants, driving your car, Styrofoam containers, trans fat; remember the frog.

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