For years I have waffled back and forth between being way too reactionary and concerned about the insane ideas that are put forth, or way too lax in trying to stay out of the news. For my own mental health and for what I thought would help contribute to good debate, I have chosen to just take a back seat and try to focus on some longer term type questions.
But it turns out that the debates are real. It’s not “green” vs. “not green” (to take one example), there is a conflict of visions (see Sowell of course) between a constrained view of the world vs. an unconstrained view. There is a conflict of visions between our own freedom and other people’s freedom. There is a conflict of visions between real freedom and coercion. And more. These are real – and almost every argument today (e,g. capitalism vs some other abhorrent “system:) is just a veiled argument for it. It’s toxic, and the root of the problem is that we don’t just come out and have the ACTUAL argument, we have fake arguments about other things as social and cultural and political cover. What is the proper role of government? What is the proper scope and size of the government at all levels? What things should be left to the voluntary actions of a free and responsible (and even irresponsible!) people? We don’t have those arguments. We have empowered the government(s) to do so much, that we are fighting to control that power, fighting to control what other people do, and we are all less free, less healthy, less safe, less clean environmentally, less productive as a result it.
Which brings us to the news du jour. I sadly just learned that the fools in my state have decided that BANNING plastic bags is a good idea, so here we are. This is yet another program that is being put in place that will absolutely have little to zero benefit for the planet and which will make our lives either a little bit or a lot suckier. It’s the supermarket version of low flow toilets, low water pressure, temperature limits on appliances, energy efficient appliances, CFC light bulbs – all ideas that absolutely make our daily lives much less comfortable and enjoyable, make life more miserable, and DO NOTHING for the planet. Nothing. It doesn’t even make advocates feel good now that those things have been enshrined, because they can’t demagogue those ideas anymore. There is no evidence that those things do any good, and it is not surprising to anyone who has spent any actual time thinking about it as to why it has not worked. Why the fascination with banning things and telling us how to live our lives?
(1) It’s “free”. You see, if you ban plastic bags, you are not raising anyone’s taxes.
(2) It’s noticeable. You see, if you continue to develop Gen4 nuclear, the electrons coming down your wire are no different, and it’s also “giving in” to some bogeyman “other side”.
(3) No one does or can ask the question of what impact any of that has on the planet
(4) It’s hard to make anyone accountable when the stream of unintended consequences follow. Low flow toilets? Who is responsible for the extra chemicals and energy required to run our wastewater treatment now? You see?
So the bag ban is just a terrible idea – and the beauty is that now this is yet another thing that someone who is supposed to show “environmental cred” is going to be induced into putting into their policy stream.
We have written quite a bit on the insanity and stupidity of the plastic bag ban (and no, there is no need to be charitable here, it is stupid). For a refresher course, here are some of the links.
Now please excuse me while I go run my “reusable” shopping bags through my energy efficient, low-heat washing machine.