Don't penalize bags for being successful
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.
Omni Tech International
Coperion demise sad for once-strong firm
Another good company bites the dust! It greatly saddened me to learn of the recent layoffs and planned further layoffs at Coperion Corp. and the decision to end production in the United States.
As Werner & Pfleiderer Corp., the company was profitable every year from the 1970s when it opened. W&P held the No. 1 market share for decades and certainly acquired an excellent reputation as a manufacturer of compounding extruders. It weathered the ups and downs in its market and managed to stay in the black, while being a very decent place to work for 300 people. Employee turnover was quite low and the management was quite ``human.''
Perhaps that particular business style just doesn't work any more. Since being acquired by Krupp and subsequently forming Coperion and ultimately being turned over to a financial group, the slide was unstoppable. I feel fortunate to have worked at W&P for almost 10 years, but more fortunate to have left before the great decline. I can't help but wonder - if the company had remained W&P, would it have weathered the bad markets of the last three years as it had done in the past?
My sympathies to all those capable people who are losing their jobs. I can only hope that some of the many compounding extruder manufacturers will be smart enough to pick up those experienced W&P personnel.
Boyton Beach, Fla.