Human Events Blog

Plastic Bag Crony Capitalism

Ben Howe at Red State brings us news of a shadowy war that has been fought beneath our noses, at the checkout lines of our local supermarkets:

Believe it or not, there’s been a war going on over plastic bags for some time now.  It seems that manufacturers of those reusable bags you see near the checkout line were none too pleased that so many people were continuing to choose plastic or paper bags as opposed to shelling out $20 bucks for their environmental solution.

So the reusable bag company known as ChicoBag did what any good environmental alarmist would do: they lied.

For instance, they claimed that “a reusable bag needs only to be used eleven times to have a lower environmental impact than using eleven disposable bags.”  They were close.  It was actually 393 times or roughly 7.5 years to replace reusing a plastic bag just three times.

ChicoBag actually created a fake EPA website and pushed false data to school kids, claiming it was from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  They were sued over these tactics by plastic bag maker Hilex Poly, and lost, forcing ChicoBag to correct some of its disinformation.

Not to worry, though, because Howe ends this tale of woe on a high note for the cloth-bag fraudsters, nothing that the state of California has begun banning plastic bags, based in part on the disinformation spread from phony web sites.

So not surprisingly, California is one of the first to actually start making laws based on this bogus science.  If you think it will stop at their borders, think again.  Not only can a state as large as California have influence over the ideas of other states, the size of their market can force nationwide companies to make company-wide changes just to comply with the desires of California.

This is the most delicious, highly-refined version of crony capitalism: when the government actually starts banning your competitors.  There is no way to achieve this effect without raw political power.  Even the dreadful monopolies liberals are always howling about can’t actually “ban” their competition – not without help from the politicians they pay big bucks to elect and influence.

If you wonder how eco-radical groups get their hands on so much funding, wonder no further.  Madcap environmental extremism means big bucks to well-connected corporations, looking to hire political hit men to take out their competitors.  The cash value to companies like ChicoBag from a national ban, spreading out of California, which forces consumers to buy their products by outlawing the alternatives is incalculable.

Of course, consumers – the “little people” liberals hate, but love to wax poetic about – suffer the most from crony capitalism.  Plastic bags are highly convenient.  How many people own cloth bags but forget to take them to the store, even when grocery stores offer little penny discounts as rewards for using their cloth bags?  How many people would get sick from bacterial contamination of aging cloth bags, because they forgot to take the important step of periodically cleaning and sterilizing them?  What happens to all the household applications for saved and reused plastic bags, such as organizing small items or cleaning up pet waste?

Don’t worry too much about that stuff, because you probably won’t have anything to say about it.  You’ll be forced to use cloth bags soon enough, and your dismay will be far outweighed by the joy among those who profit fantastically from legislation based on junk science and lies, long after everyone forgets about those embarrassing civil suits.

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