A ban for all seasons

06Oct17

Anyone at Town Meeting on that night last May could see that it was going to be close. Personally, I thought the plastic bag ban was going to fail narrowly if put to a YES/NO vote.

But before it came to that, a third option miraculously surfaced! “Let’s refer it back to the selectmen for more study!” As soon as I heard those words, I knew it was over. Some form of plastic bag ban was all but inevitable.

Any committee the selectmen appointed to study banning plastic bags was never going to recommend not banning them. So now we have what will be sold at the upcoming November 6 Town Meeting as the “new and improved” plastic bag ban.

And you thought the silliest thing on the Regular Town Meeting warrant was renaming the Board of Selectmen.

The plastic police and their supporters will all be there. Unless Wakefield’s rank and file voters come out in force on Nov. 6, they can plan on toting lovely cloth bags around with them for the rest of their lives.

Most of the selectmen, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, thought the plastic bag ban was a just a swell idea.

Only Selectman Ed Dombroski questioned the wisdom of the ban. He wanted to know what effort the study committee had made to determine how many bags – or how many pounds of plastic – would be saved in Wakefield every year as a result of the ban.

Of course, there was no answer to his question because no effort whatsoever had been made to ascertain such relevant facts.

“With any initiative where you’re trying to have a results-oriented approach,” Dombroski said, “you know what the result is expected to be. Absent that, it’s just theoretical.”

Selectman Dombroski was being diplomatic. I don’t have to be.

This is nothing but a feel-good measure that will be a hardship for local businesses, a giant pain in the butt for consumers and will have a negligible impact on the environment. But oh, how virtuous we’ll feel when everyone is bringing their own embroidered cloth bags to the store with them. After all, it takes a village to save the planet!

I know, local merchants are supposedly on board with the plastic bag ban. What would you expect them to say? They can see the writing on the wall, and people who run businesses tend to be team players. They want to be seen as good citizens. And no business, with the exception of the National Football League, ever wants to risk alienating a segment of its customer base.

Trust me, if a ban on plastic bags were such a great idea, you wouldn’t have to force it on the business community. They’d steal it.

So, if eliminating plastic bag-use is the obvious “no-brainer” we’re being told it is, why do we need a bylaw to make people comply? That’s easy. It’s because most people don’t want it.

Most people like the modern conveniences that human ingenuity has produced. That includes plastic bags, plastic water bottles, electric light bulbs and the internal combustion engine. Funny how the same people want to deprive us of all those things.

We’re told that people will adjust to having no shopping bags available at store checkouts, just like Europeans have. I’m sick of hearing how much more advanced the Europeans are than Americans. I just spent a few weeks in Europe. It’s a nice place but despite their obvious moral superiority, I prefer the United States.

What an advanced society we’ve become. We now recognize an individual’s right to get wasted out of his mind on THC, but soon he won’t have the right to carry his Doritos home in a plastic bag.

Oh, it’s so easy, they say. Just keep a few cloth bags in your car and they’ll be handy whenever you go to a store. OK, but what about people who can’t afford cars? What about people who don’t drive? What about drunks? What about stoners?

We are told that we can’t have voter ID laws because that would disenfranchise the .000001 percent of adults who don’t have some form of ID. But doesn’t a plastic bag ban discriminate against non-drivers? Are they supposed to walk everywhere lugging multiple cloth bags? It’s shopper suppression, I tell you!

No one is forcing anyone to use plastic bags. I respect your choice to use your bacteria-ridden cloth bag for your groceries. Why can’t you respect my preference for a clean, new plastic bag?

For our betters, it’s not enough that they choose not to use plastic themselves. They must pass laws to control everyone else too, because they believe that you and I are not smart enough to come to the same conclusions that they have.

There’s one chance left to push back against this arrogance. Go to Town Meeting on Nov. 6 and vote against the plastic bag ban.

The plastic police are counting on the fact that you won’t.

[This column originally appeared in the Oct. 5, 2017 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “A ban for all seasons”

  1. 1 Anthony Antetomaso

    Great column, Mark. The problem here though, is this isn’t about plastic or cloth – it’s about CONTROL. Getting the citizenry accustomed to having more and more of their lives controlled by their “betters” at Town Hall. Whether it’s seat belts, toilets, helmets, light bulbs, drink sizes – it doesn’t matter. It’s ALL just about the Monster giving orders from on high. And the Monster feeds on taxes and it’s never satisfied.


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