As a senior state senator in your last term one would think that the end of your career would be spent attempting to have an impact on mitigating the plethora of financial problems facing your state including massive unfunded pension liabilities, rising education costs and downgraded credit. Well, you would be wrong, at least in the eyes of Ed Meyer
It has been only days since the Connecticut General Assembly officially reconvened for the 2014 legislative session and already Senator Ed Meyer, who will retire after this session has resumed his now routine effort to ban something or other.
Last year Meyer championed a proposal to outlaw all weapons that have the capability of holding more than one round (bullet). This year Meyer is dusting off an old proposal to ban the use of plastic bags throughout the entire state of Connecticut in order to reduce environmental pollution.
While environmental malfeasance may not be at the top of the things this state is known for, banning plastic bags has been a recent trend among supposed environmentally conscious leaders who tote the purported benefits of using a paper or re-usable bag. Los Angeles, Hawaii and even Westport Connecticut all have standing bans on plastic bags of a certain size, and/or taxes on paper bags.
Cleaning up the environment from harmful wastes is all well and good and everybody should properly recycle their trash and leave nature as they found it, but a further look at the actual effects of a plastic bag ban shows that legislative efforts to flat out get rid of plastic bags may be a bit misguided. Sound familiar?
A 2012 study conducted by the National Center for Policy Analysis surveying the economic repercussions of Los Angeles’ plastic bag ban found that while overall sales for stores affected by the ban increased, the amount of people they employed decreased by about ten percent.
This result couldn’t have been hard to predict. At the end of the checkout lane there is often a person bagging my groceries, who is most likely not too high in the store’s pecking order. When the store has to pay more money to provide reusable bags it is forced to make that money up somewhere and often it is the most disposable employees who are affected. Forty Eight percent of L.A stores affected by the ban lost money on re-usable bags.
The report also points out the apparent ecological fallacy that reusable and paper bags are less harmful to the environment than plastic bags. Apparently it is more energy intensive to create and use paper and reusable bags than it is plastic bags. Here is a summary of the report’s findings on this issue:
“For an equivalent amount of groceries, single-use plastic bags produce 15.5 pounds of waste while paper bags produce nearly 75 pounds of waste. Paper bags also produce more greenhouse gases. Plastic bags generate 68 percent fewer greenhouse gases than composted paper bags. Plastic bags consume 71 percent less energy during production than paper bags. Reusable bags may be the worst of all. Such bags need to be used 104 times to be less polluting than plastic bags. However, such bags are used only 52 times on average.”
Everyone in their right mind would like to rid the world of pollution and while banning plastic bags may make us that we are taking the right steps one must weigh all potential outcomes, as always there are two edges to every sword.
Last year Senator Meyer urged that we act in haste to put serious bans and limitations on firearms and because we listened hundreds of thousands of innocent gun owners turned into criminals overnight. Before the assembly considers creating outlaws in the checkout line it would be nice if they assessed the sensibility of these types of proposals. Passing a law for the sake of passing a law does not mitigate a problem. How long must it take to learn this?
On a side note there is good news for those who love political antics and debauchery and that is that Ted Kennedy Jr is slotted to take Meyer’s place. This comes after Kennedy backed out of a potential attempt to fill John Kerry’s vacant Massachusetts Senate seat while living in Connecticut. Good Grief.