Friday, July 25, 2008

Support the Bag Tax

Recently, I heard on the radio about a bill to create a "bag tax". A tax on grocery bags. When I first heard of the concept, I thought, "What a great idea!". This ought to get people more enthused about bringing their own bags and reducing waste. However, the group Stop the Bag Tax wants to oppose this idea. Their web site is rather sparse consisting of four sections: a description of the Bag Tax, "But will this save the planet", "Who will this affect", and a link to that audio clip I linked to.

The site claims that:
"As if the cost of gas and food isn’t enough... politicians now want to charge you $.25 on every grocery bag. That adds up to about $400 per family per year!"
Now they're getting mixed up here. The AB 2058 does NOT address a $.25 tax, that is AB 2829. AB 2058 sets up guidelines for the state's voluntary bag recycling program. However, if we do look at the CORRECT bill, we'd see its not as sly as they paint it at all. When you look at the bill itself, you notice that it acts "on and after July 1, 2006". Politicians are in no way trying to sneak a tax on us. A year is a fair amount of time to get accustomed to reducing or even eliminating use of plastic bags in favor of canvas bags. If by then you still refuse to reduce your use of plastic bags: then, my friend, you will be helping California out of its budget crisis.

Another claim the site makes is about whether the bag tax would be good for the environment: "NO. Plastic bags are fully recyclable. Grocery stores already make it easy to recycle with convenient recycle bins." The problem with comparing this with recycling is that things we typically recycle: bottles, cans, electronics, paper usually just take up space in a landfill, and that's just wasteful. However, plastic bags are MUCH more dangerous than that. In California, the state taxes bottles and cans, and pays that money back to consumers when the bottles and cans are recycled. This incentive so far has brought the recycling rate to 67%. However, with plastic bags, we want something MUCH higher. Plastic bags in the environment are deadly to wildlife, they kill thousands of marine creatures when they get to the ocean. A full-blown tax to keep people from using them would be the best way to do so.

Lastly, the site asks: "Who does this affect?" and gives this answer:
This will affect everyone, but it will be especially devastating to low income families, seniors and anyone living on a fixed income. Plus, it could cost thousands of California jobs.
I don't have much to say to that other then it seems like it was pulled out of someone's hindquarters. Yes the tax will affect everyone, but there does not seem to be a reason this would target low-income families and seniors. I mean... I'm sure they can find SOME bag to carry their groceries in, if they so desired. And the tax won't affect the store's prices. According to the bill, the store would be "authorized to retain 3% of the fee as reimbursement for any costs associated with the collection of the fee". As far as I can tell, the tax only affects the wasteful, which it darn-well should!

So, here's what you do!
  • Find your representatives using this form (from the bagtax web site)
  • Call them and let them know that you SUPPORT the bag tax.
  • Ask them to support both AB 2058 AND AB 2829.
And it goes without saying that you should try to reduce your plastics too.


Cairnarvon said...

Courtney said...

That link to the form sent me to "stop the bag tax" form!!

cactaur said...

Yeah, I figure that if you don't know your representatives, just get their addresses from the web site. It's a lot easier and, in case they're wrong (which won't be too surprising) it'll work to cancel out the anti-bag-tax letters to those representatives who do get them.