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The Bag Tax: A day late and a dollar short

Posted: August 3, 2011 - 8:38pm

I have spent the last week being besieged by the zealots of the “Bag Tax Initiative.”

Each time I said “No, I will not sign your petition,” and each time I got an argument. It goes like this:

“Do you know about the garbage dump in the Pacific Ocean?”

“Well yes I do.”

“Oh, and you still don’t want to sign the petition? You know the money stays here in Juneau, it goes into the general fund.”

So, the money isn’t going to help clean up the Pacific Ocean, it stays in Juneau where the only whale it will be saving is a bronze one.

The plastic bag levy introduced in Ireland in 2002, resulted in a 90 percent reduction of plastic shopping bags … but there was not a reduction of plastic bag use as consumers switched from free shopping bags to garbage bags. Sales of garbage bags increased 400 percent. In San Francisco, litter audits conducted before and after their bag ban found that plastic bags actually ended up comprising a greater share of total litter after the ban. Do we actually gain anything?

While we may not gain anything from a bag tax, there will be losers. One year after Washington, D.C.’s bag tax was implemented, studies found that the tax precipitate a $5.64 million decline in aggregate disposable income, and took its greatest toll on the impoverished. “Unlike many bag tax supporters, D.C.’s poor and elderly who rely on public transportation aren’t likely to have a Subaru Outback … in which to keep all of their … canvas bags handy.”

Google “dangers of reusable grocery bags” and you will learn that half of reusable bags are contaminated with fungus and bacteria, specifically diptheroids, bacillus, E. coli, coliform and staph epidermis. If that isn’t bad enough, some bags made in China have been recalled because of lead contamination. Why would we tax a healthy choice?

The bags I am getting from the store are “degradable” and will break down when they are exposed to sunlight. Stores are offering rebates to shoppers that bring their own bags. Juneau has many locations to recycle plastic bags. These measures are in effect now. This proposal is not going to help the environment. It is just going expose our kids to dangerous pathogens and needless regulations while nickel-and-diming the residents of Juneau.

Scott Fergusson

Juneau

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