By all means, let's have a debate on this whole notion of whether to ban or tax plastic bags [“Heading off debate on bag bans & taxes,” Sept. 8 Viewpoint]. Yes, plastic bags are everywhere because they perform a desired function at a good price. And while it pains me to see them as litter, it's we the people who do the littering, and we must all act responsibly.
You say, “To date, we have not seen a proposal to tax or ban bags that we can support.” I should hope not! There is decidedly no proposal to tax or ban bags that would make any sense to me. Furthermore, your point that “charging the public a fee for something they now get for free would cut consumption. And that's not all bad” strikes me as feckless. First of all, plastic bags are not “free,” but a part of the total package or product offering, and secondly, a drop in consumption may indeed be “bad” for the general good of the public. Something will replace the plastic bag with its own set of functional, economic, social and environmental factors. Suppliers and consumers should be free to make their choices without intrusive governmental fiat.
Clearly, there are those who would want to tax a successful product to inflate its price and thereby discourage consumption. And some would eagerly jump at the chance of assessing a user fee to transfer money from the public pocket to government coffers. But let's not give them the noose to hang the plastic bag industry and its customers by suggesting that a “success tax” has any merit.
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