Issues & Insights

Joe Biden, The Democrats’ Bag Man

090120-N-0696M-204 Vice President Joe Biden takes the oath of office at the 56th Presidential Inauguration, Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009 (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

I&I Editorial

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.”
  • 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.

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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5 comments

  • It’s true that Democrats are the new Puritans, trying to inflict their biases and preferences on the rest of us. Virtue signalling like banning plastic bags poses another problem: It often runs afoul of the Law of Unintended Consequences. The plastic bag ban in San Diego accomplished little, but it gave rise to an epidemic of Hepatitis A, including some deaths; see https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2017/sep/08/stringers-plastic-bag-ban-led-hep-health-crisis/.

    And here’s a complementary article about anti-plastic hysteria: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/earth-day-has-embraced-hysteria-and-abandoned-science.

  • Sadly, facts don’t matter when it comes to the spread of plastic grocery bag bans. No matter how many statistics you have about litter, ocean dumping, environmental impacts of paper bag manufacturing, the plastic bags bans will continue to spread. It’s the zeitgeist on the two coasts and in inland liberal/Democrat-ruled cities. And the enviro-zealots behind this aren’t going to stop at bans on plastic straws, styrofoam and HPDE grocery bags. They will always demand more, they are totalitarians. They rely on emotional arguments and indoctrinated young people. We need a new approach to stopping these plastic bag bans. I don’t know what it is, but the “factual” approach is a loser.

  • I’m from California and the plastic bag ban is irritating as hell. We tried to stop SB270 but enough people apparently voted to squash the referendum.
    It started out as various cities doing it on their own (including my city) but one day Jerry Brown decided that wasn’t enough and they had to implement a state-wide ban, even when some cities such as Huntington Beach openly opposed it.
    This was the first time I noticed California was declining. Its really there to support the companies that make those fancy new tote bags that everyone in California struts into Trader Joe’s an Whole Foods with, like they’re going in there with reusable bags as if they’re saving the damn Planet. Nevermind the environmental impact of manufactiring the cute, colorful, designer tote bags, and the need to run the washing machine again to keep them clean or else they become infected with bacteria…
    And that’s beyond the sheer inconvenience, say when you decide to walk to the supermarket rather than drive(which is amazing for the environment rite???) and you have your groceries and the clerk, instead of “paper or plastic” now says “would you like a bag??” Well, geez, what do you think?
    And if you don’t pay 10 cents OH but now they raised it to 25 cents… for a lousy old tree-killing paper bag, they’re literally like “too bad!” and you walk outta there balancing a precarious tower of TV dinners and groceries in your hands because we’ve been deprived of free plastic bags… so instead you’re forced to buy limited groceries that you can fit into paper bags as you walk back home, and still, the handles tend to rip off the paper bags if they’re too heavy, and then your tomatoes go rolling down the sidewalk…
    Just an example of how much this legislation messes everything up. It’s a mess.
    If they’re banning plastic bags, why in the world do they charge 25 cents for paper bags which have nothing to do with it? The BYOB (bring your own bag) thing is like a religion. Something so mundane is of so much importance to these people, never mind the homeless!
    California politicians try to force you into a narrow pattern of behavior, so you behave like the rest of the liberal-woke lemming collective of California, parking your Escalade in front of Trader Joe’s and pulling out your amazing sea turtle-saving tote bags. It’s called Enviro-Fascism.
    Plastic bags are reusable and clean. In the new era of “woke climate change crusaders” that grips California like a fascist cancer, they still need something to demonize and something to pour all their wrath into. There’s a need to eradicate, exterminate and annihilate. They’ve chosen to direct their collective fury at plastic bags.
    (as well as at Trump)

  • Having never felt the need for such complete domination, all the rules, regulations, laws, and policies put forth by my caring elected representatives leave me with but one opinion of their efforts on my behalf…..leave me the hel l alone!

  • [print-me target="#post-%ID%"]

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About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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