Bag madness in Seattle

Here we go again. Leave it to government, in this case the City of Seattle, to find new and creative ways to reach into your pocketbook and grab more of your hard-earned cash. Recently, the Seattle City Council approved a 20-cent tax/fee (subject to voter approval today) on every plastic or paper bag you use to take your groceries home. Years ago, in the early stages of the environmental movement we were advised that the production of paper bags kills trees and emits high levels of greenhouse gases and that’s not good. Soon thereafter, strong, lightweight, low-cost, water resistant plastic bags came along years ago to help save trees, a renewable resource by the way. As the environmental movement gained popularity it was determined that plastic bags were also an environmental hazard since they are not biodegradable.

So now, thanks to the watchdog efforts of the City of Seattle, we are urged to use cloth grocery bags to save our environment and avoid this new tax/fee. As more and more citizens move to cloth bags they’ll need to clean them regularly, with detergent. That, of course, is a problem too. Many detergents, we are told, affect the quality of our water supply and cause algae blooms, which can also greatly reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and cause large fish kills.

So what’s the solution? Should we buy only the groceries we need for our next meal and consume them before we leave the grocery store? Voila, no bags necessary. But wait, that sounds like a restaurant. And surely we are aware of the many public health and environmental health hazards created by restaurants, aren’t we?

This all seems like a vicious cycle. What shall we do? What shall we do?

There should be little argument that we can all be more environmentally aware than we have been in recent decades. The use of biodegradable plastic, environmentally friendly laundry detergents, and making every effort to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases will go a long way toward reversing what many believe is an alarming trend.

But the biggest concern many citizens have right now, an understandably so, is the insatiable appetite at all levels of government for new taxes and fees…even if it is disguised as an important government intervention program to protect our environment.

Before you know it, some local government will invent a tax on citizens who choose to install a home security system or a fine if you don’t shovel your sidewalk, even though the City may have stopped plowing your street 5 or 6 years ago. Sounds familiar…did the City of Colorado Springs already do that? Yes, on top of the highly controversial storm water fee that about ten thousand citizens have refused to pay. Then, perhaps, a misguided, fiscally irresponsible and liberal Governor will revoke the property tax exemption on seniors on fixed incomes. You say “That will never happen?” Well that happened in Colorado this year!

So what’s next? Here are some ideas…

• a tax on unnecessary, luxury auto accessories (back-up cameras; sun roofs; CD players; automatic, remote or keyless door locks; satellite radios; more than two cup holders; low tire inflation indicators; electronic rearview mirrors; back seat DVD players; etc)

• a fee for each child who uses a swing, practices soccer, football or baseball in a public park...or a fee for mothers who stroll a toddler through a public park

• an annual mileage tax (in addition to the excessive taxes we pay on each gallon of fuel)

• a tax on ownership of household pets, or

• forcing military members to carry insurance to pay for their own war injuries

I know there are some elected officials saying right now “Why didn’t I think of that?” while others may be saying “Already thought of that, but do you think we can get away with it?” Ridiculous you say? I couldn’t agree more…and so is a tax on “paper or plastic?”

How about, from this day forward, electing only those city councilmen, county commissioners, state legislators, and United States Senators and Congressmen who pledge no new taxes or fees for at least their next term in office; those who pledge to support growing infrastructure and national security needs only through thorough elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in government spending and programs, and not new taxes? How about not electing those who may say “no new taxes”, but by their records have already proven they cannot deliver on those pledges…those who will say ANYTHING to get re-elected. If they have a tax and spend record, let’s get rid of them all...regardless of their political affiliation. Enough is, enough…throw the bums out!

In the morning we'll know if the citizens of Seattle voted to support or defeat this grocery bag tax/fee. If they support it, let’s call them enablers…feeding the habit of greedy elected officials who continue to tax and spend like there is no tomorrow. Some argue that unless we act now to protect our environment there will be no tomorrow…others argue that if our governments, at all levels, continue their reckless spending spree the greatest nation of Earth will no longer be the greatest nation on Earth. Count on it.