Plastic Bag Ban Guarantees Individual Rights

Plastic Bag Ban Guarantees Individual Rights

“No one has the right to tell me I can’t use a plastic bag.” This statement was made by a popular radio talk show host. Well Sir, you are absolutely right. At least for now.

There is a misconception about plastic bag ban ordinances. Some people feel that a plastic bag ban imposes on individual rights.

Plastic bag ban ordinances do not take away individual rights. In fact, a plastic bag ban ordinance ensures individual rights. How? It's simple: a bag ban forces the retailer to give me a choice!

That's right. In areas without a plastic bag ban, you and I must pay for plastic bags whether we get them or not. In areas with plastic bag bans in force, you and I have a choice! Isn't that what 'individual rights' is all about? Individual rights is about having a choice - choosing to pay or choosing not to pay. If we choose to pay, then we should get something in return.

Plastic bag ban laws do not say that you as an individual cannot use plastic bags. The laws prohibit retailers from giving you a plastic bag. By prohibiting retailers from giving away plastic bags, society then must figure out another way to get their goods home.

Actually, you as an individual can go buy all the plastic bags that you want. No law prohibits you from doing this. You can take them with you shopping and put all your purchases in them to bring home. The kicker is: you will pay for those plastic bags.

For so long now (almost 30 years) we have been given plastic bags by the merchant when we make a purchase of their goods. Now, not only do we expect it, but it has become a habit of convenience.

In reality, you have always paid for those bags. The merchant has to figure the cost of the bags into the stores budget. The merchant simply adds a few cents to his goods to pay for the bags. In fact, one statistic I saw says you actually pay around $50 per year for those "free" plastic bags.

Economists like to use the term “user pays.” Let the person who uses the bags pay for them. Therefore, in reality, a plastic bag ban prevents the merchant from charging everyone for the bags – whether they use them or not. If I don’t want a plastic bag because I have a reusable bag, then I shouldn’t have to pay for the bags anyway.

So you see Mr. Popular Radio Talk Show Host, with a plastic bag ban, everyone has a choice. Without a ban, everyone pays. With a ban, everyone chooses. If you want a bag, then you pay for it. Don’t expect me to keep subsidizing your use of single-use plastic carry-out bags.

5 Responses to "Plastic Bag Ban Guarantees Individual Rights"

  1. Dennis   2012/01/07 at 9:53 pm

    Plastic Bag Ban Limits Individual Freedoms
    This article is BS. An individual could always have asked for a different type of bag, or used their own if preferred to what the store has available. The ban removes the right of a business to provide bags of their choosing (which also typically bore the store’s name and logo, providing them a side benefit of advertising) at a price of their choice, which was typically $0 over the products purchased. The government is now setting the price (and type) of bags offered; does anyone care that anyone else engaging in price-fixing would be breaking federal law?
    I should have the choice of obtaining a bag from a merchant, with the type and price negotiated between the merchant and myself as with any other product. I never see plastic bags littering the streets of San Jose, and I’ve re-used the bags I’ve received for other purposes. Bags don’t just go away; now we just have to pay more for the bags that we need for other things. I am now likely to do more shopping in neighboring towns when the choice is convenient.

  2. Bryne   2012/01/06 at 12:29 pm

    I understand the THOERY behind this ordinance granting you more individual rights; but are the markets really going to reduce their product price? I doubt it. The markets know that we have come to expect certain prices for their products; and I would be willing to bet that they will cater to our expectations. I for one would gladly pay the extra two cents for my broccoli, for the convenience of not having to remember to bring my own bags.

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