Saturday, January 20, 2007

Plastic Bags and the "Environment"

I watch a v-blog on a fairly regular basis called Rocketboom, and today’s installment is stranger than normal. It’s on plastic bags, of all things. The producers highlight how plastic bags are supposedly destroying the earth, killing marine life, etc. Then they talk about how governments can reduce this so-called damage, by putting a tax on plastic bags. Fortunately, the US has not adopted such measures.

A “plastic bag” tax (or any restriction on these products) is just one more way that governments wage war on the poor, despite insistent pleas to the contrary. A tax on plastic bags is nothing more than a cost that gets passed on to the consumer of the plastic bags through higher grocery prices, and the poor will certainly be burdened the most in the end. Furthermore, the argument about reusing the bags rings hollow. The poor don’t have the luxury of specialized storage containers, buying “high quality” garbage bags, or whatnot. Instead, we who don’t make much money reuse plastic bags all the time for all sorts of various things, from garbage bags, to packing materials, to long term storage. I wouldn’t consider myself poor by any means, and even I reuse plastic bags as much as I can.

With which should a government be more concerned: making groceries cost less so the poor can get by, or the state of the environment? The answer, truthfully, is neither. The government has no right to dictate how people trade groceries; the market will work to their advantage! As long as individuals are producing things that others value, they will have the means to trade for their survival. Nor does government have the right to force people at the point of a gun to give them money for ridiculous environmental protection measures. It’s immoral for individuals to steal, and just because the government calls that money “taxes”, the action is no more moral – it still is theft.

Scientists and engineers make products that people desire to accomplish useful purposes – ultimately these products are both for survival and enjoyment. Allowing the free market to work, and hence allowing we producers to make things that people want, promotes nothing less than the continuation of the human species. These measures of restricting trade, though perhaps well intentioned, are ultimately detrimental. In fact, I am convinced that environmentalists do not value humans much at all, as they are often more concerned with the well-being of non-sentient animals and the non-living “climate” than the well-being and preservation of human life. To make matters worse, they always endorse theft from others as the means of accomplishing their convoluted goals. Now that’s what I call a waste!