Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hawaii bans plastic bags at the check-out counter state-wide, libertarians gnash teeth everywhere

Great to see Hawaii has become the first jurisdiction to impose a state-wide ban on plastic bags at the checkout counter. To make it happen, Honolulu County just joined the state's three other counties.

According to MSNBC, Pete Carlisle, Honolulu mayor, had this to say about it:

This is groundbreaking. By signing this environmentally friendly bill, Honolulu joined our neighbor island counties. Hawaii has become the only state in the United States where every county has plastic bag legislation.

It's not going to happen overnight. There is a three-year phase-in so retailers can get used to the change, but it's coming.

One interesting comment by Sierra Club spokesman Robert Harris is that:

Being a marine state, perhaps, we are exposed more directly to the impacts of plastic pollution and the damage it does to our environment. People in Hawaii are more likely to be in the water or in the outdoors and see the modern day tumbleweed -- plastic bags -- in the environment.

I live in a jurisdiction that imposed a five-cent charge on every plastic bag you need at the checkout. We routinely bring our own cloth bags whenever we shop. A small legislative change did a great job of modifying behaviour in a very important way, and I'm glad it did.

The libertarian streak in the GOP these days is, to put it mildly, not helpful. Laws and regulations that protect the public good are essential. There is no question we should debate and discuss these changes when they are proposed, but to reject them simply because they involve state action and enforcement is absurd.

I know elements of the right will never accept this but, in a democracy, when it's running properly, duly elected officials act on behalf of the governed for the common good. Sometimes, even frequently, individual action doesn't get it done.

The question is not about whether or not we should regulate, but what regulations make sense.

A "small thing" like Hawaii's state-wide ban on plastic bags is a case in point.

Nanny this, Ron Paul.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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  • Great initiative. I just have to remember to take my reusable bags with me to the store

    By Anonymous imitation bags, at 2:53 PM  

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