Grocery Bag Ban Approved

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The Plastic Man, Stacey Augmon, soars. But no mores.

It's official: beginning January 1, if you want paper or plastic at the grocery store, you'll be paying a 20-cent tax per bag. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out; perhaps the smoking ban might represent an interesting parallel. While I still feel as though it's part of the unspoken contract that when you walk into a bar, you have to live with second-hand smoke (and I don't smoke), I don't hear a lot of people -- including bar owners -- complaining about the smoking ban anymore. Quite the opposite, actually. And while I feel that taxing both paper and plastic bags (just plastic would have been fine) is a bit -- if not a lot -- heavy-handed, especially in a crap economy, I wonder how many people will complain about the ban three years from now, when plastic bags aren't cluttering their front yards, parks, sidewalks, and ravines.

Furthermore, while at first I thought the tax would unfairly impact middle and lower income Seattleites, just how many middle and lower income residents still live and shop in Seattle relative to 15 years ago? Seems like there are a good amount of Whole Foods and Met Markets where Albertson's, QFCs, and Safeways used to be. If this regulation extended to White Center (two Albertson's there!) and beyond, there'd be hell to pay. But it doesn't; it's a citywide tax.

Still, it's a slippery slope. Paper and plastic today, mandatory compost bins and burlap trash bags tomorrow. There's a point at which strictures on personal freedom will jump the shark. We're not there yet, but the end of the ramp draws ever nearer.

 
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