By now you've heard that Seattle voters defeated the proposed 20-cent tax on plastic and paper grocery bags. How did that happen? Some pundits seem to think it a case of the American Chemistry Council throwing a million dollars in advertising at the city and duping the voters. Others say it was an ill-conceived proposal that voters -- even in Seattle, a city with a reputation for support for environmental causes -- couldn't stomach. I thought it would be fun to share some opinions from a variety of sources:
Frankly, Seattle, a plastic bag fee is a no-brainer, and it is proven to work. The cost is low enough to be a nominal dent in your wallet, and the fee can simply and easily be avoided with a few reusable bags. The arguments against it--the cost, the "wrong approach," fear of misused funds--just seem flimsy. There are some things Europe just does better, and sometimes this has to do with perceived "rights." Americans believe they have a right to a free bag. Here, when it comes to the environment--be it car emissions, closing the center of a city to traffic, or plastic bags--the laws are just passed. Because these small changes are for the greater good. Mairi Beautyman The Huffington Post
It was a costly and unnecessary tax. ... I think you saw Seattle voters saying this was not the right approach to protecting our environment. Adam Parmer of the Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax From The Seattle Times
Residents clearly expressed that a tax was not the way to go. The message it sends to us is that consumers value plastic bags and have rejected the idea of paying a fee for something they value and already use responsibly. Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council from Plastics News
It wasn't the American Chemistry Council but the stable poor and newly unemployed taking an unsustainable hit in the current economic downturn who decided this was one tax/fee too many. What used to be chump change now gets us through the day. The mayor and his advisors targeted hapless users of the reusable plastic and paper totes instead of requiring manufacturers of toxic carryalls to come up with an eco-friendly product. The mayor hoist himself on his own petard by his arrogant disdain for the people with no voice. He never stepped up to the plate in defense of Jane and John Doe paying increasingly higher costs of food, rent and public transportation, failure to oversee due maintence of the infrastructure and suffering massive job losses. He dessicrated entire neighborhoods by confiscating private properties for a monorail that never was and ignored the voters who trekked to the polls four times to support the project. It's time the grinch who stole Christmas exit the stage gracefully. Post by gladys on SeattlePI.com
I didn't see much of a campaign myself [in favor of the proposal]. And when it became visible, it was whining about the petrochemical industry. It seems like at the end, it was more about who was opposing it than dealing with some of the issues raised. Political consultant Blair Butterworth from The Seattle Times
Nanny legislation, in all forms and at all levels, is a pernicious evil and must be eliminated. It is not the government's responsibility to manage the lives of its citizens. If I choose to use canvas bags, or if a grocer opts not to offer plastic/paper, that is my (or their) choice. Although this may be an important societal issue, I see no reason to codify it in law. Not everything has to be a law. firebringer11, Kent, Wash. from The Seattle Times
I count this as a win for the big, polluting plastic and chemical companies. All this claptrap about hurting the poor is a ridiculous argument. If you're poor, how many bags full of groceries are you going to be buying in the first place? Even if you have five bags, that's an extra buck. Big deal. I don't know why the city council didn't just ban plastic bags and leave it at that. They overplayed their hand by putting the fee on paper, too. Paper is at least a renewable resource, and it's much less environmentally destructive. Oh, well. We use canvas bags anyway. I'm just sorry to see the outcome of this vote. amr71, Alexandria, Va. from The Seattle TimesSee anything you agree with? Disagree? Here's your chance to be a political pundit.