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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Greed: The Best Reason to Oppose the Bag Fee

Posted by on Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Leading endorsement groups are forming a mostly united front to support upholding the disposable shopping bag fee—Referendum 1—despite a handful of business interests working to repeal it. Today the Seattle chapter of the League of Women Voters announced that its executive committee was endorsing a vote to approve it. The group, with only one dissenting vote, argued that the ordinance is a sensible means to control litter and reduce waste.

Other groups agree. Those gunning to reduce the plastic in the waste stream—who don’t have a financial stake in the bag fee—include the 43rd and 46th Legislative District Democrats, Metropolitan Democratic Club, The Stranger, Publicola, a slew of environmental groups and elected officials. You can read the complete list over here.

In contrast, Stop the Bag Tax spokesman Adam Parmer said this morning that he couldn’t name any endorsing organizations. No endorsements are listed on the group's website. But he named several groups in the coalition, taking pains to mention that they represent local business interests, such as the Korean American Grocers Association, the Washington Association of Neighborhood Stores, and the Independent Business Association. He conveniently omitted mention of the American Chemistry Council, which has tossed a record-breaking $1.3 million into its puppet campaign. But when we asked Parmer about the plastic lobby’s contributions in an endorsement meeting last month, he admitted flatly, “Obviously, plastic bag companies have an interest. I don’t think it’s surprising that companies with an interest will spend money to protect it.”

The Seattle Times plans to release its endorsement on the bag fee on August 9. Given their absurd fear mongering on the issue, I’m not expecting a thoughful endorsement—but we’ll see if they come down on the side of reason or the side of the plastic lobby’s greed.

And here's part of our endorsement in this week's issue:

This was a tough one, as both sides made excellent points. On the one hand, environmentalists who know about things like "science" and "dead sea mammals" have researched the issue thoroughly and say that the 20-cent fee on disposable shopping bags—the proceeds of which go partially to the stores and partially to fund recycling programs—would help decrease the number of plastic bags currently piling up in landfills, or being downcycled to shittier plastic bags and then piling up in landfills, and, eventually, slowly disintegrating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch until they resemble tiny, delicious plankton particles that fish mistake for food but are actually POISON.

On the other hand, plastic-bag companies want more money! Waaaaaaaah!!! Do you want to see plastic-bag companies and chemical corporations cry? ON THEIR BIRTHDAY!?


Comments (36) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
After it loses, we'll talk like serious people about what we really should do, which is a ban on plastic bags.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 5, 2009 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Maybe we could put a tax on your bold-font button.
Posted by Skip on August 5, 2009 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Not to be a party-pooper (I'm still leaning towards voting for the bag tax), but I've talked to a few good liberals who remind me that the bag tax is an ENORMOUSLY regressive tax, and will, above all else, succeed in nickel and diming Seattle's working familes. Just sayin'... maybe a total ban would really be the best policy position to support.
Posted by siirf on August 5, 2009 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Rotten666 4
I'm with Will. You want to ban them? I'm on board. This half-assed fee deserves to get defeated.

Most people dislike social engineering by taxation.
Posted by Rotten666 on August 5, 2009 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Ditto, ditto, and ditto.

Could the supporters of this fee be more sanctimonious?

Posted by Mr. X on August 5, 2009 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Jeebus, thank you to #1-#5. What The Stranger fails to realize is that there are plenty of people in support of the ultimate goal of this tax (reducing plastic bag waste), but don't support the completely ass-backwards way that Referendum 1 attempts to achieve this goal.
Posted by ProfessorBeard on August 5, 2009 at 12:59 PM · Report this
You all might just consider that it is the first vote against a new tax - yep - and against a very poorly written law.

All the lockstep stuff does not change either reason to vote against it.

Every person I know feels the ban should be simple, ban the bags at all shopping destinations. Oh, I forgot, the grocery shopper is less important than the one going to Nordstrom or Macy ... how weird to exempt luxury goods and tax food. That concept is not my Seattle.

A poorly written mish-mash should not remain law. Many strong enviros are voting it down and will work to bring it back as a better written law.
Posted by HATE PLASTIC BAGS, ALL OF THEM on August 5, 2009 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
Thanks. @6 for the win.

oh, and the bold tag comes from a web link - any registered user on SLOG can have one, k?
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 5, 2009 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Jenny from the Block 9
@8, I think @2 is referring to the Slog's gratuitous use of bold font in their blog postings.
Posted by Jenny from the Block on August 5, 2009 at 1:13 PM · Report this
I bring my own reusable bags for groceries, and I voted against this stupid law. It's typical half-assed Seattle-process schlock that tries to make everyone happy, while in the end not really accomplishing anything, and it should be defeated. Just ban the fucking things already.
Posted by It made me type "TANTI". What is TANTI? on August 5, 2009 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Who knew that a high school dropout could type words???
Posted by Dom's mother is a useless whore on August 5, 2009 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Word up, #9. The over-bolding makes Slog look like a bunch of old Mad Magazine punchlines. Sometimes. Just saying.
Posted by Skip on August 5, 2009 at 1:30 PM · Report this
lizzie 13
Wow. I'm sure you all would rather completely ban cigarettes, cigars, gambling, gasoline, cars, soda machine syrup, hunting, timber, and industrial air pollution rather than our current scary social engineering excise taxes, right?

I'm sure it's impossible to tax something and THEN ban it, right? You have to go straight from nothing to a complete ban, right?

Conservative men always seem to say NO to any reasonable measure because they have a BETTAR IDEA. Most of these same disingenuous people against the bag tax would be against a bag ban because their new brilliant idea for a bag tax would be better.

Meanwhile, if this measure fails, Seattle will probably fall behind the state of Texas which is set to vote on a plastic bag tax statewide. Our new slogan -- Seattle: Less Green Than Texas.
Posted by lizzie on August 5, 2009 at 1:38 PM · Report this
lizzie 14
It's typical half-assed Seattle-process schlock that tries to make everyone happy, while in the end not really accomplishing

Uhh... other localities that have passed a plastic bag tax, reducing plastic bag use by over 90%:

San Francisco (which had a $0.17 bag tax, then completely banned plastic bags two years later)
District of Columbia
Hong Kong

So, a plastic bag tax isn't uniquely Seattle, has been proven effective, and is a proven stepping stone to a complete ban. Wrong on all counts.
Posted by lizzie on August 5, 2009 at 1:49 PM · Report this
@13 Oh boy. Apples and Oranges, my friend. Just like The Stranger, you seem to turn everything into a shrill "us vs. them" battle cry. Everyone who disagrees with you is a "conservative", cud-chewing hick who hates the environment. It must be nice living in a world where everything is so cut-and-dry.
Posted by ProfessorBeard on August 5, 2009 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
@13 - the target populations are different for tobacco and plastic bags. cigarettes hook you when you're 8-13 - adults who start smoking them have a much easier time quitting.

And, if you wanted to compare them, you'd have to still get real and propose a $1 fee per plastic bag.

Now, after the vote, remember a lot of the people who voted no on the Bag Tax on the Poor would be quite willing to vote yes on a plastic bag ban.

Or, as is typical, go sulk when you jet off to Bolivia and use more oil than you ever will with plastic bags in your lifetime.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 5, 2009 at 2:00 PM · Report this
the sole reason i will vote against this tax--besides the fact that it's a tax--is because it also targets paper bags which last time i checked are biodegradable. stop the discrimination against paper!
Posted by bob says howdy on August 5, 2009 at 2:22 PM · Report this
If the tax passes, how are all of the homeless shitbags in the city going to "conceal" their high gravity malt beverages?
Posted by john cocktosin on August 5, 2009 at 2:42 PM · Report this
As if the poor won't figure out soon enough that if they bring their own bag they won't have to pay the tax. Some people around here could use a slightly more important issue or two to get their panties in a twist about.
Posted by Rhizome on August 5, 2009 at 2:52 PM · Report this
Geni 20
I still can't really figure out the furor over disposable bags. When did they become an entitlement? I mean, it's not all that long ago that stores didn't routinely provide bags, and many stores still don't. People adjust. They bring their own carriers.
Posted by Geni on August 5, 2009 at 3:15 PM · Report this
@16 - Can you explain how a 20-cent fee is a "Tax on the Pooooor" (who, you know, can bring their own bag and avoid the fee) - but banning them outright (now you've got to bring your own bag) is a great idea?

That makes no sense.
Posted by shabadoo on August 5, 2009 at 3:21 PM · Report this
I'm with @21. Doesn't make sense.

Of course we should impose a bag tax, and then maybe we can go ahead and ban them later.
Posted by jw36 on August 5, 2009 at 3:27 PM · Report this
"is because it also targets paper bags which last time i checked are biodegradable. stop the discrimination against paper!"

Listening to the arguments on KUOW the other day, apparently paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic because of the mills used to produce them and the more energy needed (extra weight) to transport them.

So, also, realistically if you want a ban you're talking about a ban on ALL BAGS except reusable if you want to be environmentally conscious about it.
Posted by Paper v. Plastic on August 5, 2009 at 3:49 PM · Report this

You think it is hard to enact a bag tax? Try banning something AFTER it is producing tax revenue to grocery stores and the guvment. You'll be in for some fun then.

I take my reusable bags to the grocery store every time and I think this bag tax is a stupid waste of time and resources. You want to ban them altogether? Fine. I still think is is pissing on a forest fire, but I can at least get behind a ban.

Most grocery stores already give you a discount when you bring your own bags. In that regard, everyone who doesn't bring a bag is already getting "taxed" because they are paying extra. Do you see much social change there? I don't.

Taxing them 20 cents is just screwing over low income families and the homeless though. These people can't just store them in their cars and use them when they need them. They have to carry them around all the time and it isn't going to be worth the hassle. If nobody has the option of just getting them at the store for 20 cents, people will have no choice but to find a way to make sure they have a bag when they go into the store, or they will have to carry out all their items in their arms (that'll learn 'em).
Posted by clint on August 5, 2009 at 3:50 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 25
Ban outright? OK
Make it a deposit? OK
20¢ as a fee? fuhgeddaboudit
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on August 5, 2009 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 26
darned straight, SchmuckyTheCat ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 5, 2009 at 4:05 PM · Report this
For the record, myself and all the other actual chemists I know support reduction of plastic bag use. Please don't confuse actual scientists with MBA's who run chemical companies. Thanks!
Posted by geekgirl on August 5, 2009 at 4:36 PM · Report this
It's great to see that this important issue is coming down to the people. We need to be aware of what we are doing to the earth and our environment and when neccessary we need to be able to make big changes.

I hold this issue close to my heart. As a young girl I saw the plastic bags come into the markets. In fact in 1984 my sister did an experiment at our home to see if these plastic bags were indeed degradable. She pinned one to our outdoor clothes line where it remained in the elements for several years without showing any sign of biodegradability. The only thing we noticed after a year was that the printing had faded, but no other changes.

I began a small scale plastic bag recycling program in my community a couple of years ago. I use these "single use" shopping bags and upcycle them into washable and reusable totes purses and backpacks.

I am now recycling for 15 families and together we have kept over 3000 plastic bags out of our waste stream or worse yet our oceans!

If you don't see a problem with plastic bags, please give it 24 hours and note every plastic bag you see on the roadside or against a building on your local beaches, in your wet lands. I'm sure you will notice as I have that these things are littering our entire landscape.

It's a simple change to bring your own bags! When we all do our small part we really can change the big picture.

Christi Spangler
Recycle Crafter
Posted by FatBottomBags on August 5, 2009 at 4:41 PM · Report this
And, they can re recycled - tie them into knots - recycle.

lazy council passed poor law, the wisdom of the people will prevail.


And the so called fee is a tax on food. Not good. Tax the shopper at all other stores as well.

(bright light goes on)

Vote NO on the bag tax.
Posted by Jason the Pride Fag on August 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM · Report this
SecretBYUBottomBoy 30
good god.. it's amazing that up in seattle you are about to go BACKWARDS on plastic bags. i mean... this is a serious no brainer. for god's sake.
Posted by SecretBYUBottomBoy on August 5, 2009 at 7:58 PM · Report this
Rhett Oracle 31
from the Seattle Times - this may have been referenced earlier - but if not - it's worth your consideration.…
Posted by Rhett Oracle on August 5, 2009 at 10:49 PM · Report this
I love the idea that the millions that the douchebags at the American Chemistry Council are throwing into this race to defeat the bag tax may actually result in the long-run in a total ban on their product. I love the smell of irony in the morning . . .
Posted by Murgen on August 6, 2009 at 12:13 AM · Report this
The supporters of the bag tax overreached by including paper bags. That's going to doom this measure to failure.
Posted by seattle mike on August 6, 2009 at 8:47 AM · Report this
julie russell 34
@11..I'm no fan of any Holden...but one's education does NOT necessarily correlate with their intelligence.
Posted by julie russell http:// on August 6, 2009 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Dominic is only interested in presenting the opinions of those who don't have a financial stake in the outcome. The problem is he is overlooking the fact that almost EVERY talking point against bags, as well as language in bag legislation around the country, comes directly from websites of companies who sell reusable bags. No financial stake... whatever. Like the city doesn't have a financial stake in this - it's purpose is to raise tax revenue. Think before you speak, Dom. Writers for the Stranger apparently only need to be able to sling mud to get published. How about actually researching BOTH sides of the issue before spouting off?

What should actually be important in the debate isn't WHO is saying what, but WHAT they are saying. You can't discount what the companies opposed to the fee are saying just because you don't like them. If you look at the actual facts being presented, you will see that the anti-fee argument is backed up with a mountain of actual data showing that the fee will not have any impact on the environment one way or the other, compared to the inane rantings of the pro-fee people who seem to only be able to say "bags are made by corporations and therefore evil" and repeating misinformation and myths about bags.

Do us all a favor, and before you vote on this, actually do some research. Environmental laws should be based on environmental science, not just a belief that it's the right thing to do. And don't blame the bag makers for how people (yes PEOPLE) dispose of their trash. Blaming manufacturers for littering is like blaming Toyota when a drunk in a Camry causes a wreck.
Posted by Ken Holmes on August 7, 2009 at 10:27 AM · Report this
ok all,.....this is the way it is.

If official's tax this then they care about revenue.

If official's ban this then they care about the envionment.

Let's get real....$.20 x 1000/box = $200. These bags cost only $20-30 per case. Big Brother is looking for more cash for sure.

If any official's would like to see non petroleum, renewable resource bags have them email me I have had these for years.

Sorry for the late interest. I have been on another project for some time now and out of the loop. Time flies for sure.

Posted by RJFoodman on August 11, 2009 at 2:37 AM · Report this

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