Paper, plastic and partisan politics

June 3, 2010

Don't be fooled by the plastic bag ready to whale on Mr. Paper. He's blue but he's still Republican.

Walking into the Capitol Grocery Store in downtown Sacramento, there’s some canned Republican hot air for sale. It’s filled with empty calories, a lot of stale preservatives, and it’s been sitting on the shelf for a really long time. Not even a bona fide “red tag” sale can get this deadstock moving.

On the other side of the store, in the fresh produce section, there’s some Democratic food for thought palatable for your health, your well being, and the well beings of others around you. Lots of people swear by the Democrat Diet plan. Not a whole lot of blue stuff, mostly green, but green is close enough to blue. That’s because the Green Party would support the plan.

Which would you choose? Better yet, how will you package your merchandise on the way home?

Paper? Or plastic?

Sometime during the middle or end of this summer, that may not be an option anymore for California, since the Assembly’s already passed a bill banning plastic bags in grocery stores:

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/jun/02/assembly-passes-bill-banning-plastic-bags/

They’d like us to make the sensible choice favored by many a Trader Joe’s patron: purchase a reusable, durable cloth bag that need not be discarded. This, they say, will cut down on the amount of non-biodegradable waste inherent in plastic bags. Plus, it’ll cut down further on paper bags, which wastes trees.

Paper vs. plastic has become, like most other decision-making in politics, a partisan issue. Democrats largely favor the plan in place. But Republicans balk at the 5 cents that consumers may have to now pay for plastic bags a piece should they be sans a cloth bag or bags.

Their reason is that it’ll make lower-income families on food stamps or what have you even further strapped for cash.

The state grocers association supports the move, and apparently, it’s been so influential that the state chamber of commerce and taxpayers association have revoked their disapproval of the “cloth bag or pay extra” plan.

I admit, I take my groceries home in plastic bags. But then, I just haven’t invested in a cloth bag … and plastic is the only option at the Ralphs self checkout.

Excuses? Maybe. But the bigger question is why should our political leaders be debating about this? Shouldn’t it be up to each individual grocer? The last I’d seen, Trader Joe’s only offers paper, or cloth, bags. Mainstream grocers offer both.

It’s another example of politics invading every aspect of our day-to-day lives. And like all politics, it’s got to be partisan: left, right, paper, plastic.

Is there another way to neutralize this issue before a bunch of plastic and paper bags are strewn across the Senate floor? What would the Independents or Libertarians think? What would be another grocery analogy to all this?

Maybe that there’s a bunch of Alka Seltzer on sale down aisle 7, and that our stomachs, upset from all this partisan bickering, don’t care if it comes home in a plastic bag.

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