Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another Damned City on a Hill: Outlawing Plastic Bags in L.A.

From the L. A. Times:

"Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation Wednesday to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, handing a major victory to clean-water advocates who sought to reduce the amount of trash clogging landfills, the region’s waterways and the ocean.

Egged on by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and an array of environmental groups, the City Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 12 months at an estimated 7,500 stores. Councilman Bernard Parks cast the lone no vote.
"Let’s get the message to Sacramento that it’s time to go statewide," said Councilman Ed Reyes, who has focused on efforts to revitalize the Los Angeles River.

Council members quietly backed away from a more controversial plan to also ban use of paper grocery bags, which was first proposed by appointees of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa."

My first thought in reading that was "Hooray!  I'm glad the damned things that don't work very well would be gone."  But then I thought it through further.

There's a motely crew of busybodies out there who are very willing to make laws restricting what others do to further some agenda -- be it moral, social, political, environmental, or so forth. 

How does someone qualify for being El Supremo when it comes to being the rulemaker?  Become an actress?

No, just have a worthy cause.  And some justification.  And pursue it with an "ends justify the means" approach.

Okay, I like a clean, pretty environment too.  And I prefer paper sacks.  Which some L.A. snozzola wants to ban also.  Okay, Sherlock, how am I supposed to carry groceries out to the car?  Okay, one of those environmentally safe cloth bags with a Green symbol on it."

I whacked that dead horse, the Tennessee legislature, for coming up with so many moral bills in the last session.  This is the same kind of thing.  No different.  The same kind of neo-Puritan moral reasoning which goes like this:

"People are too stupid or depraved to make their own moral choices, so let's do it for them."

Of course, something gets sacrificed.  The possibility of people acting virtuously.

Anyway, the same tradition that snuck across the Atlantic nearly four centuries ago that led John Winthrop and fellow Puritans to found that City on a Hill is still going on.  Mayor Villagrosa, let me introduce you to Sen. Stacey Campfield.

And in the case of plastic bags, even neat clothing derived from those materials.


  1. Having to have your own grocery bages along would have the effect of reducing shopper spontaneity. Maybe some L.A. shoppers can shop in nearby communities, but it's a no go for the urban poor.

  2. Plastic bags are more of a symbolic than a substantial issue.

  3. I also am tired of people with perscriptions for how others should live. They need more sex.

  4. The cumulative effect of all those rules can feel considerably oppressive.

  5. I'd like to see more of plastic bag dresses.

  6. I agree with you in principle, Heidi, but I can tell you from experience that plastic bags are the greatest invention ever for picking up dog poop. Unless, of course, you neglect to check said bag for holes first.