Banning Plastic Bags Protects Oregon Jobs

Jon Isaacs

I distinctly remember when plastic bags were introduced in Oregon grocery stores.

I was six or seven years old and I remember my parents and all of my friends' parents being appalled. In fact, I remember my Mom declaring that we would never use plastic bags because those paper bags were made here in Oregon from trees cut here in Oregon. For years, I stood by that parental directive until it became too much of a hassle, with plastic bags set up to be used as quickly as possible. In fact, the public reaction to plastic bags was so negative back then that a law was passed requiring Oregon grocery stores to offer paper bags. Last week, State Representative Brian Clem, reminded me that that anti-plastic bag sentiment still exists to some degree in towns like Coos Bay, where he grew up, that still depend on jobs in Oregon's forests.

Fast forward from the early eighties, when plastic bags were seen as an afront to Oregon's timber and paper industries, to today. The reality is that we were right. Plastic bags have been and remain terrible for Oregon's economy. Forget the fact that plastic bags litter our streets, pollute our oceans and rivers, clog our sewers, break machinery and pile up in landfills where they exist forever. Forget all that for now. The fact is that paper and reusable bags are manufactured in Oregon by companies that employ thousands of Oregonians. Plastic bags are not.

Companies like Package Containers Inc in Canby, which employs 55 people and manufacters paper and reusable shopping bags. Package Containers Inc. was named the 2010 Small Manufacturer of the Year by the Portland Business Journal. Trusted Oregon grocers like Fred Meyer and New Seasons voluntarily stopped offering plastic bags as part of their commitment to sustainable business. And the Northwest Grocery Association and Oregon United Food and Commerical Workers Local 555 agree that banning plastic bags, offering paper and accelerating the switch to reusable bags is good for Oregon business. It also goes without saying that banning single use plastic bags is vital for protecting Oregon's natural legacy.

Senate Bill 536 will finally do what we all know should have been done back in the eighties and ban plastic bags. Fittingly, it has bi-partisan co-sponsors from across Oregon in Republican Senator Jason Atkinson, Democratic Senator Mark Hass, Republican Representative Vic Gilliam and Democratic Representative Ben Cannon. All four deserve great praise for their leadership working to finally solve the plastic bag problem.

Over the past week, we've been subjected to an onslaught of dubious claims about plastic bags -all coming from Hilex Poly out of South Carolina, one of the largest plastic bag companies in the nation. Hilex doesn't employ anyone in Oregon except the lobbyists they've hired to kill SB 536. According to Hilex we don't really see all those plastic bags laying around on the streets and floating in the river.

And those paper bags made here in Oregon? Acoording to Hilex they are just terrible for the environment. Since they are from South Carolina they probably don't know that Oregon has one of the best recycling systems in the world. According to International Paper, which employs about 900 Oregonians, approximately 60% of paper bags are recycled. And despite Hilex pushing the red herring of plastic bag recycling, the reality is that only 1% of plastic bags are reycycled.

And the "grassroots campaign" against the bag ban? Well, of course it's bought and paid for by Hilex. Heck, even the "grassroots" website is run by a "grassroots" political consulting oufit from Washington, DC. The Medford Mail tribune got it right in a great editorial last week - "Oregonians should take their talking points with a bagful of salt."

Let's listen to Oregon employers, Oregon manufacturers, Oregon grassroots organizations, pass SB 536 and ban single use plastic bags once and for all. The Medford Mail Tribune put it best, "This state has a tradition of leading the country in environmentally friendly laws, from bike paths to returnable bottles. Oregonians should add eliminating plastic grocery bags to that list."

Update: I forgot to mention that SB 536 also has the support of the Oregon Business Association.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Another reason to sign the electronic petition to ban single use plastic checkout bags at http://www.thepetitionsite.com//5/ban-the-bag-in-Oregon/

    • (Show?)

      Hmmm..for a guy who generally seems concerned about the costs to government and business, commenting against the bag ban seems like even more weak sauce.

      • (Show?)

        Carla, I'm not really sure what you mean. I'm at least open to the idea of a bag tax to offset environmental externalities (I almost always prefer a tax to a ban). But justifying a product ban on the grounds of protecting local jobs is a pernicious idea, even if it's presented as a secondary "benefit" for what might be an otherwise good proposal.

        • (Show?)

          There isn't a tax on the table here, Jacob--so I'm not sure how that's even relevant to the discussion.

          I'm curious how the discussion around jobs in relation to banning the bag is "pernicious". It certainly is relevant.

          • (Show?)

            I mention a tax only because I think it would be a better alternative. Generally better to tax something to price it accurately than to take a command and control approach.

            As for jobs, this is basically the same idea Adam Smith argued against more than 200 years ago, yet still it lives. It's perfectly fine to argue that bags create environmental problems and ought to be banned. It's perfectly fine to argue that loggers should receive some compensation for unforeseen shocks to their industry. But you shouldn't force a competitive good out of business just to protect local jobs, because when you do so you lose the gains from trade.

    • (Show?)

      Todd - it's not clear to me from your "report" that you link to (which is a 1.3 page press release) how you modeled the tax and the assumptions you made about how many people would use reusable bags vs. paper bags. Can you provide more details?

      For example, the SMART model has a nice little flowchart. Did you model the five cents as a "tax" that went to government, or did it follow the arrow to the "firms" box?

      The nickel-a-bag proposed to be outlaid goes to grocers, not to the government. That money, in turn, is likely spent to buy more Oregon paper bags. The Oregon paper bag producer then hires more people, who then spend money locally, and that has a multiplier effect in the local economy (see that little "hire L, K" in your own flow chart). Is that how you modeled it?

      You also say there's a net loss in jobs. Can you provide details about the sectors of the economy that would gain, and which would lose, and how many jobs?

  • (Show?)

    So I can get my "second" use bags for picking up my dogs faces from the produce area anyways....lol....CHECK!

    What what was the point again?

    • (Show?)

      Subscribe to the Oregonian, it comes with handy poop bags.

      • (Show?)

        Sorry. I used to do that but I finally found it almost impossible to distinguish between the contents before and after the use you describe... so, unironically, I decided to save some trees.

      • (Show?)

        So you aren't concerned with those ending up in the ocean? What is the environmental difference between a plastic bag at the check out counter, and a plastic bag that a newspaper is delivered in? Or do you propose banning other plastic bags as well (newspaper bags, produce bags, trash bags, etc.).

    • (Show?)

      Much as I disagree with the conclusions in your post, I have to respect your honesty in describing your economic logic as "simple."

  • (Show?)

    And next environmentalists will seek a ban on paper bags. You know their sworn enemies the tree clearing industry. Use them for their gain now, stab them in the back later.

  • (Show?)

    Todd, here's what I get - the link goes to a press release. Which has a "download the report here" link. Which goes to a 1.3 page "report." Which has a couple footnotes to a generic economic model, built by a one-person anti-government organization.

    If there's an actual report, please share it.

    And when I was getting my Master's, one of my economics professors had a wise saying: "All models are wrong. Some models are useful." That meant, among other things, that "simple economic logic" might produce inaccurate results.

  • (Show?)

    The study was done by economists at the Beacon Hill Institute which is the research arm of the Department of Economics at Suffolk University in Boston.

    The STAMP model is a computable general equilibrium model meaning a 30 page report is not needed.

    I understand there is no convincing you. I learned while getting my Masters in Economics that you cannot reason someone out of something that they were not reasoned into to begin with.

    It is a sad state of affairs when economics and logic have no relevancy in an obviously emotional issue over banning plastic bags.

      • (Show?)

        Evan, this should help you.

        http://www.beaconhill.org/STAMP-Method/STAMP.pdf

        • (Show?)

          It explains the STAMP method and how it has been applied to issues.

    • (Show?)

      I've used reusable grocery bags for years. I wipe them out with a washcloth and a little sanitizer every once in awhile. I don't know anyone who washes them in the laundry. Forgive me, but you're doing it wrong.

      And you're seriously worried about the clerk's dirty hands because of grocery bags? I've got news for you, the shopping carts that they manage are vastly worse. Your claim here is bordering on ridiculous.

      And we should keep allowing plastic bags to pollute and costs government and businesses huge amounts of money because you're inconvenienced by poop clean up? Seriously?

    • (Show?)

      Germophobe much? You do know that many people already use cloth bags, right?

  • (Show?)

    Todd,

    As one who works in economic development, I deal with a lot of capital investment numbers, tax assessment, and job creation. All of these are important, but I've noticed that most of the culture surrounding economics (including what is taught in colleges) is purely dollars and cents, and typically leaves out the question of sustainability.

    What is the impact socially, culturally and environmentally for any given project? Are these ever considered? I'd say rarely. Of course, as we all know, philosophy is as much a part of economics as numbers and figures. Depending on ones worldview, economic modeling can take on many forms.

    While my point is more broad in nature, I believe we as a society need to start looking at the broader impact of economic decisions, and not make the bottom line the bottom line.

    • (Show?)

      Thanks, Jason.

      Todd, before you go all freeper on Jason here, you should know that he's one of our more conservative regulars - generally skeptical of whatever's happening here.

      Good to see a discussion of the economic externalities brought into the mix. They're tough to measure but non-ideological economists will work hard to factor them in.

      Todd, when you get around to posting a link to that study you cited, could you please identify where in the model it includes externalities such as the cost of cleaning bags off our roads, our natural areas, from recycling equipment; and the cost to our marine fisheries; and the impact of plastic bag production on the price of oil. Thanks!

    • (Show?)

      If people have more savings, they can invest in more eco-friendly products, which are often more expensive. One can also invest more into capitol, which can lead to production of other more eco-friendly alternatives. This is how an economy grows and this is also how goods can become more sustainable. Through more prosperity, we've seen demand shift to more energy efficient cars, electronics, machines, etc. Before the automobile, there was environmental concern over the methane emitted by horse manure. The invention of the automobile was actually praised at the time as an environmental savior. And of course, through time, capitol, and innovation, the automobile has improved very much since that point. The market is currently shifting toward electric vehicles.

      There are many shifts toward environmentally-friendly products that have occurred without force.

      By imposing economically harmful mandates, not only does the government effect the lives of people, but also the extent that people can make purchasing decisions in regards to the environment.

      • (Show?)

        Dude, are you seriously suggesting that the move toward electric vehicles is happening because the government has a hands-off policy?

        Seriously?

        The story of electric vehicles is a story about government intervention. Electric vehicles are happening because of a) taxpayer-funded research into battery technologies, b) government regulation of emissions and fuel economy (CAFE standards), and c) tax subsidies for purchasers of electric vehicles.

        And we don't even have to talk about government bailouts of auto companies or the government's role in maintaining and regulating an electrical grid that eventually will make possible to shift hundreds of millions of cars from a fuel-based power system to an electrical power system.

        You're going to find that you're going to be more comfortable making your arguments here if you extend your index fingers, jam them into your ears, and sing "LA LA LA LA LA" while you're doing so.

        • (Show?)

          You're missing the point as I see maybe normal for you. Electric vehicles were an idea put out there by individuals way before Government started giving out subsidies.

          • (Show?)

            I suggest you watch the 2006 documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car. Electric cars were "an IDEA put out there by individuals way before the government started giving out subsidies" but they were in the dead letter file until the government started actively underwriting the effort.

            • (Show?)

              It's very simple. The technology is not there yet even as we speak today. The vehicles that have made advances in this area are from foreign automakers. And not from Government money. Go figure. The Government has no right using our money for "technology" where they choose it needs to go. The best and most advanced "technology" we have today are from individuals and PRIVATE corporations.

          • (Show?)

            Of course they were an idea.

            Ideas aren't the hard part! Actually making them happen is.

            Sigh.

  • (Show?)

    Oregon has already led the nation on so many environmental issues, and it would be a shame if we couldn't do so again by banning plastic check-out bags.

    In almost every past case where Oregon has been the first to adopt pro-environmental policies, industry groups have come out with dire predictions that it would destroy the economy, discourage business and - "gasp" - inconvenience consumers. Instead our environmental laws have produced new jobs in the recycling and clean tech industries, and made Oregon one of the most livable places in the country.

    For those who really have such a problem with common sense measures that protect the environment, maybe you should move to New Orleans or some other place where the local economy has been devastated by environmental irresponsibility. For years in Louisiana, many government officials bent over backwards to please the oil industry. You can see what was the result.

    • (Show?)

      Really, how's our employment rate in relation to the rest of the country?

      • (Show?)

        Yeah, Josh, everybody knows that Oregon's unemployment rate is directly caused by the bottle bill and public beaches.

        • (Show?)

          Doesn't seemed to have helped has it Kari. Keep those blinders on!

          • (Show?)

            By all means, cite your evidence. Point to the data demonstrating that the unemployment rate in Oregon is tied to recycling and pubic beaches.

            • (Show?)

              "In almost every past case where Oregon has been the first to adopt pro-environmental policies, industry groups have come out with dire predictions that it would destroy the economy, discourage business and - "gasp" - inconvenience consumers. Instead our environmental laws have produced new jobs in the recycling and clean tech industries, and made Oregon one of the most livable places in the country. "

              I was pointing out the ridiculousness of this post. All these great environmental laws and the first to adopt pro-environmental issues and what do you know...our employment sucks even compared to many other states. It's blaringly obvious. I don't need a study to tell me that. You don't either but it doesn't fit your argument.

              • (Show?)

                Shorter Josh Hopwood: I have no evidence for my contentions. I just pull them out of my ass.

                • (Show?)

                  Or like Carla, I just let people claim we Oregonians are pro Environmental innovators and refuse to care what happens with our jobs as long as we are "innovators". We have a strong economy....oh wait...

  • (Show?)

    great posting, Jon. Oregon needs to do this. If you think about it the whole concept of plastic bags is so weird.

  • (Show?)

    Perhaps those concerned about pollution should treat their neighbors like human beings and make appeals to their reason, rather than treating them like cattle and resorting to government force.

    • (Show?)

      Perhaps those concerned about pro-creation should treat their neighbors like human beings and make appeals to their reason, rather than treating them like cattle and resorting to government force.

      • (Show?)

        This is true, but I wonder why you bring it up. Do you imagine that everyone against government coercion in the economy is also a sexual-pleasure-hating mystic who evades the difference between a fetus and an individual possessing natural individual rights? Guess again.

    • (Show?)

      Last I looked, we directly elect state congresspeople. Every once in awhile they even do what their constituents ask them to do.

      • (Show?)

        The issue is not how the representatives come into power, but what is the nature of their power. Is it to use the institution with a monopoly on physical force to protect innocent individuals from coercion from others (individuals and governments) -- as our first three presidents believed? Or does their power include imposing the whims of the majority upon individuals, with, ultimately, gun power? 150 years ago in the US it was the former; today it is the latter.

        • (Show?)

          Gun power? Really?

          Is your whole worldview that we're not allowed to regulate anything, anywhere, at anytime?

          If so, we have nothing left to discuss.

          • (Show?)

            Yes, gun power. A government is an institution with a monopoly on physical force in a geographic area.

            Anybody who wants the government to do something, is essentially wanting it to be done with (at least) the threat of physical force. Otherwise what's the point of having the government do it?

            When you want new regulations for plastic bags, you are calling for new threats of physical force against those who don't use/buy/sell plastic bags the way you want.

            Do you think that's what John Locke, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson had in mind when they envisioned a society based on natural individual rights?

            A government should use physical coercion for one thing only: to keep every individual free from the physical coercion of others, i.e., from criminals. A proper government is essentially an organization for the objective delegation of every citizen's self-defense.

            • (Show?)

              Pack up your copy of Atlas Shrugged and head off to Somalia, ok? The rest of us are going to continue to live here in the real world.

              • (Show?)

                First you tried to dismiss me out of hand as a religious conservative, which I'm not, then you tried to dismiss me out of hand as an anarchist, which I'm not. I've given reasons for my views, but in the end your only response is to dismiss with insults and run away.

            • (Show?)

              And again, I ask, why can't the government protect me from the physical coercion of plastic bags? I don't know if Locke considered the effects of coercion from sources that were latent or even, ultimately, holistic in nature, but that doesn't mean you can't.

              • (Show?)

                Good question. I think the way to deal with pollution on "public" lands is to privatize all property. Then the problem of pollution becomes a legal issue of property rights.

        • (Show?)

          So, why don't I have and deserve protection of the water I drink and the air I breathe?

      • (Show?)

        Sometimes, we even call them legislators.

  • (Show?)

    It will most certainly create more jobs! I for one, plan to start a black market in selling plastic bags. I'll be rich!

    • (Show?)

      Go for it. No need for a black market. Lots of people already sell plastic bags. (See Jenny, above.)

      • (Show?)

        DING DING DING....Scotty what do we have for Kari?? She just figured out that this bill will make Oregonians buy plastic bags that will still pollute and take money out of their pockets at the same time.

        • (Show?)

          Really? "She"? That's what you're resorting to?

          • (Show?)

            Resorting or a mistake. Of course you have to take it as an insult. Ignoring the fact "Kari" is a female name and I honestly can't tell by your picture. I simple mistake, don't feel too butt hurt by it.

            • (Show?)

              Sure, there are more women than men whose names are similar to mine. But I'm hardly alone.

              But mostly, it just proves that you've shown up here on a moment's notice - and immediately started blasting your talking points without spending any time surveying the territory, understanding the community, and sorting out who's who.

              And I'm guessing, as soon as this topic moves off the radar, you'll be gone.

              Nice knowing you.

        • (Show?)

          Am I hearing a conservative complaining about having to pay for something that they've previously had for free? Ah, the party of personal responsibility in action.

  • (Show?)

    Todd, Jacob, Trina, Brad, and Josh --

    It's good to see so many new commenters all showing up and making their first comments here on BlueOregon -- and all on one thread! What a fantastic coincidence!

    Welcome to BlueOregon!

    One brief note: Here at BlueOregon, we ask that anyone who is commenting as part of their employment - or related to an issue that their employer is actively engaged in - to disclose that fact. We think it's a common courtesy and a matter of basic ethics.

    You're going to find that we engage in some pretty spirited debate, but you're always welcome to be here. Other blogs may have strict ideological or issue-based litmus tests for commenters -- we don't. As long as you're using your real name, disclosing your paid affiliations, and respecting our community, you're welcome here.

  • (Show?)

    One of the drawbacks to reusable bags is all the ones I've seen at the stores are made in China. Personally I would like to have 100% hemp fiber bag made in Oregon but until we legalize industrial hemp, that's just a bong dream.

    Also, too (TM Caribou Barbie) I got a 5 cent credit for using a cloth bag my last shopping trip.

  • (Show?)

    Kari,

    Electric vehicles can and will come to the market without government intervention. As long as it is a superior technology that Americans desire.

    You can read up on how this process happened with the combustion engine replacing horse carriages and solving a growing environmental problem at the time.

    http://www.cascadepolicy.org/pdf/env/FMPonElecVehicles_100109a.pdf

  • (Show?)

    Kari,

    Always comes back to money with you.

    I nor my employer have received funds from the plastic bag manufacturer or their employees.

    Cascade does not do contract research anyhow.

    When you run out of arguments the question of funding always comes up. It is typical and tiring.

    • (Show?)

      Actually, it's about being honest Todd.

      If you're working for an organization that is either doing lobbying or benefiting financially on an issue, it's just good ethics to disclose.

      • (Show?)

        Honesty? You guys are for a bill that does NOTHING to stop people from polluting plastic bags or from even getting/buying plastic bags. You just want to stop people from getting plastic bags for free is the real issue. That's all this bill comes down to. It wont stop people from using or polluting these plastic bags.

        • (Show?)

          It will do a LOT to reduce pollution from plastic bags simply by dramatically reducing the number of plastic bags out there in the first place. People can't throw away what they aren't given in the first place.

          • (Show?)

            Oops Doug, people will just go buy the plastic bags they need. Damn that logic always comes back to bite you in the ass. Thus the economic part of the argument.

            • (Show?)

              Y'know, I was going to point out that when people buy stuff instead of getting it for free, there will always be a lot less of it ... but then I realized that would just be feeding the trolls. I don't think Josh is ACTUALLY as stupid as he's pretending to be here, and I know everyone else reading this thread understands basic economics enough not to buy his silly talking point. So I'll just let this one go.

              • (Show?)

                I know I have to point this out to you again Doug....plastic bags are still free from the produce area and bulk areas. The economy is a "silly talking point". Oh nice there Doug. Thanks for pointing out that you're just another pro-environmentalist that cares less about humans than animals. The economy is very important right now if you didn't notice. If you didn't get it the first time you'll never get it now.

        • (Show?)

          So this is your response to asking for full disclosure? Deflect and make excuses? I've seen better efforts by middle schoolers on the playground, frankly.

          Is it seriously your contention that charging for something--rather than giving it away for free--won't change user habits? Good grief.

    • (Show?)

      Todd, I will take you at your word. Just wanting to make sure that we're all playing by the rules.

  • (Show?)

    Kari,

    You mention the "impact of plastic bag production on oil".

    Plastic bags are made from polyethylene. Ethylene is made of ethane which is extracted from natural gas not oil. 85% of plastic bags used in the United States are not made out of oil and are made in the U.S.

    Ethane is a waste product of natural gas. Ethane burns too hot to be allowed to remain in high levels in natural gas that is delivered to homes and businesses for fuel. There is nothing else that the ethane can be used for except to make ethylene. If ethane is not used to make plastic, it will have to be burned off, resulting in emissions.

    • (Show?)

      Incorrect, Todd.

      Plastic bags are indeed made from polyethelene. Ethylene, however, is a combination of crude oil and natural gas:

      http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/bin.asp?CID=453&DID=1550&DOC=FILE.PDF

      http://www.sriconsulting.com/PEP/Reports/Phase_78/RW78-1-1/RW78-1-1.html

      And the idea that if we don't make plastic bags we'll be polluting the environment is an amazing stretch of policy. Did Cascade come up with that for you or did you make it up all by yourself?

  • (Show?)

    Carla,

    In the U.S. approx. 85% of the plastic bags made are made from domestic natural gas.

    That link shows nothing but "natural gas/oil". It explains nothing on how plastic bags are made nor the production process in the U.S.

    Good try!

    • (Show?)

      Todd:

      There are actually two links: both explaining that ethylene is made, in part, from crude oil. If you would like to provide scientific sources (not affiliated to conservative think tanks, causes, etc) to back up your contention--as I did--then by all means do so.

      Otherwise, you're just jawboning.

  • (Show?)

    You know, we could solve the whole problem by not using bags at all. Yes! Let's just have the clerks put all of our groceries back in our cart loose, and then take them out to load each item individually into our SUVs...er...electric cars or bike baskets. That would take more time, thus requiring more employees. The unions would LOVE this also! Perfect!! It's just a little silly. We went to plastic because paper was bad, now we're going to paper because plastic is bad. Great. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go start printing out coupons for Hefty Trash bags.

    • (Show?)

      Costco members don't use plastic bags and they seem to be managing just fine.

      • (Show?)

        Costco is a BULK seller. Meaning plastic bags don't work when most of the items are the same size as the plastic bag themselves. Want to try another angle?

        • (Show?)

          When was the last time you shopped at Costco? I can buy oodles of items there and they're not in gigantic containers. In fact, many of them would fit into plastic bags.

          • (Show?)

            That's why I used the word most.....lol. The vast majority of their products are too large for plastic bags. And they use cardboard boxes for all the items which again means cutting down more trees. As is the case with more paper bags.

            • (Show?)

              The "vast majority of their products"? Based on what? I shop at Costco often and fit the "vast majority" of my purchases into the canvas bags that I carry in with me. They could all fit into plastic bags.

              You're spinning in a hamster wheel now, Josh.

  • (Show?)

    I have used reusable bags for probably 98% of my shopping for several years and, amazingly, have never developed a single serious disease or even a mild one related to them. I collected a few produce plastic bags and rinse and reuse those for anything that I don't want to put directly into the reusable bag, meat and fish if the package isn't tight and occasionally veggies if they are wet from the sprayers in the displays. I also buy meat mostly at the deli counter to avoid the styrofoam/plastic packaging. Really don't miss the plastic - they'd gotten so thin, anyway, that the reusables are much sturdier.

  • (Show?)

    My only beef with the plastic ban proposal is, that there are many uses for plastic grocery bags which will simply cost me more actual dollars in purchases to no replace, which will STILL result in plastic in the landfill.

    I spent more money to get the Simple HUman wastebaskets for my bathrooms for example, which are designed specifically to use grocery bags as their liner. If this ban passes, now I will need to buy Glad garbage bags, spend more money, and there will still be a plastic bag in the curbside pick-up.

    So all this ban does is cost me more money.

    And yes, I already do regularly use my fabric Fred Meyer reusable grocery bags when I shop. But once in a while I wouldn't specifically so I could get the plastic bags for use in my bathroom wastebaskets as liners. My cache of those bags is almost out now, and so, more of my dollars will now be lining the pocket of Clorox/Proctor & Gamble when I buy Glad bags.

  • (Show?)

    Kari, You missed the point. Even if you want to attribute these to government, it still relies on the wealth of the citizens (government has to gain revenue for research from somewhere). So regardless of how you want to believe that the process has occurred, it would not have occurred without economics. I was responding to a post claiming that economics ignores issues like sustainability, and I am showing that is not the case. Remember, the free market is voluntary exchange and prices and production are based on supply and demand. If there is a larger demand for electric vehicles, and/or a smaller supply or oil, competent automotive manufacturers have incentive to invent cars that fit the demand's need. It is profitable for them to do so. Of course, by propping up incompetent manufacturers with bailouts and intervening with prices, those incentives are lost.

  • (Show?)

    So the main point I wanted to get across is that improvements in technology not only improve the livability of individuals' lives, but also creates more environmentally-friendly machines. If you want improvement, you must either encourage technology, or oppose technology altogether, but I don't think you really want to go back to the stone age, do you? If you are more inclined toward the latter, then imagine what kind of economy we would have if all machines and tools disappeared and people hunted, gathered, and produced everything with their bare hands. Many people would die. Tools made living easier for people and as more was produced, the more prosperous people's lives became and this will still remain true for the future. So in the economy, the more one has to invest in savings/capitol, the more technological advances will occur. By investing time and capitol into new tools, man was able to create tools, which helped create other tools, which helped eventually create the machines and automobiles we have today, which are amazing tools for production and will hopefully give way for other great innovative tools in the future. Again, this relates not only to living standards, but to the environment as well. Most new technology does have temporarily harmful environmental effects, but as people's quality of life improves, they now have more capitol and resources to invest in better alternatives. So while the automobile was a great invention, it initially had some environmental concerns, but as more technology occurred and they were made more affordable, people had more resources to demand higher standards and this HAS occurred. Let's look at one example of improvement most often credited to the federal government: Air quality. Most people credit the clean air act in 1970 for improving air quality, BUT air quality and emissions data from the EPA show that air quality was improving BEFORE 1970 when the clean air act was implemented. For example, sulfur dioxide emissions declined 40% between 1962 and 1969, while smog had been reducing since the 1950s. These improvements were most prominent in large urban areas where there were the largest pollution problems. Americans spend most of their time indoors and studies have shown that Americans with air-conditioning benefit from less exposure to harmful particles because of air conditioning's filtering capacity. This is a direct example not only of technology improving air quality, but also of how it is improved with the quality of life. So for one to not understand the importance of economics is absolutely egregious. The real issue here, and with the plastic bags as well, is littering. If the government stuck to it's role of protecting property rights, these problems would be reduced.

  • (Show?)

    Oh, and I appreciate your advice that I would be "more comfortable making arguments here if I extend my index fingers, jam them into my ears, and sing "LA LA LA LA LA" ", but I'm not here to fit in with the rest of Blue Oregon. So while that may make people comfortable here, I'm here to provide a different perspective, and my hope is that you remove your index fingers from your ears long enough to at least consider the economic impacts not only on human living standards, but on the environment as well.

  • (Show?)

    This sounds like it has special interest written all over it to me.

  • (Show?)

    I'm really disappointed in this thread. All the discussion seems to be centered on personal inconvenience, or market forces, or taxes/lack thereof, how to bag dog poop, etc. No mention-- at least I didn't see any-- of the real impact these bags have on an environment that we are charged with caring for.

    Those of you who live in Oregon, we are blessed with the amazing natural environment that includes the Pacific Ocean, which we take for granted. We are responsible for leaving this place behind after we are gone, in the same or better state than we found it. I'm real sorry if some of you can't be bothered to purchase biodegradable pet bags or use a bucket, or god forbid actually use a fabric shopping bag.

    This is a very modest proposal, and should go much further, but it's a decent first stab at the problem. If you don't believe there is a problem, come to the Oregon coast where I live and take a walk through our wetlands and on our beaches to pick up the unending sea of plastic that ends up there. We do. The SOLV cleanups only touch a tiny fraction of the plastic that is entering our ocean. From wherever you thought you were throwing it-- "away" is not a real place.

    • (Show?)

      You must not have read the 3rd post, which discussed the idea that it would lead to cutting down more trees. I think the environmental concerns over paper bags were also brought up. But of course, I don't expect you to peruse all of the comments that don't adhere to your dogma.

      Also, it's been acknowledged that littering is a problem. The disagreement is on the solution.

connect with blueoregon