Joe Biden says he is 100% in favor of banning plastic bags in the U.S. At this point, it might be better to ask Biden and the rest of the Democrats running for president what they would allow Americans to have. It would likely be a short list.
Biden’s position on the issue was revealed last week at an Iowa campaign stop when a woman asked him about his “focus.”
“In Kenya, we are trying to clean the environment, no plastic bags, you go with your own bags,” she said.
Biden’s response: “I agree with you 100%. We should not be allowing plastic, and what we should do is phasing it out.”
Of course the comment brought applause. Democrats love to make the rules that everyone has to live by. Allowing Americans to go about their business without government intrusion is an anathema to them.
Before we get further into that, though, let’s take a quick walk through the facts about single-use plastic bags at the retail level.
- America does not have a plastic-bag pollution problem. A 2013 report discovered that the plastic bags typically handed out by retailers make up only 0.6% of visible litter. Or put another way, for every 1,000 pieces of litter, only six are plastic bags.
- Nor does America have a plastic-bag landfill problem. They make up less than 1% of landfills by weight, and when they are compacted, they take up “very little landfill space.”
- Few of the plastic bags found in the ocean originated in the U.S. According to the Hemholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, 90% of the plastic bags found at sea streamed in from eight rivers in Asia and two in Africa. Only about 1% of all plastic in the ocean is from America.
- In places where retailers can no longer give away plastic bags, sales of heavier, thicker plastic bags increase sharply. University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor has studied the effect of disposable carryout bag regulations on unregulated bags, and found, she told National Public Radio, that “sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned.” Sales of the smallest bags, the four-gallon size, grew fastest at 120%.
- Plastic bags from retailers aren’t necessarily single-use items. In fact, says Taylor, between 12.4% and 21.6% of the bags consumers used to bring home their purchases are used again for other purposes.
- Thicker plastic bags have to be used at least 11 times before they yield any environmental benefits. This is much longer than their typical lifespans.
Is Biden ignorant of these facts, or are they simply meaningless in the context of Democratic Party politics?
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s oft-repeated phrase “I have a plan for that,” embodies the Democrats’ burning desire to install government as the controlling force in our lives. Public policy, dreamed up and enforced by the Democrats, would force a formerly free people to conform to lawmakers’ whims. We would be mercilessly monitored, manipulated, and commanded, and severely disciplined for our transgressions.
Don’t think so? Then name a single legitimate freedom (not a pulled-from-thin-air freedom, such as the “freedom” from want or fear or to abort) that today’s Democratic Party supports. If one remains, we can’t think of it. There was a time when Democrats could be counted on to stand up for free speech. But no more.
Though it might seem almost innocuous, Biden’s support for a bag ban is symptom of a greater sickness in the Democratic Party. It craves unfettered political power. The monster feeds itself first with prohibitions it swears are harmless, then moves on to gaining dominion over markets and institutions, and finally individual lives.
Yes, virtue signaling stokes the left’s wars on plastic, fossil fuels, wealth, and the first two amendments to the Constitution, to name a few of the “progressive” crusades of our time. But the deep drive is fueled by authoritarian urges. Today’s Democrats are anything but friends of liberty.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board
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