We had this last week. I don’t know why it’s been so long but this story just cleared the AP wires today. “San Francisco may become the first city in the nation to charge shoppers for grocery bags. The city’s commission on the environment is expect to ask the mayor and board of supervisors tomorrow to consider a 17-cent-per-bag charge on paper and plastic grocery bags. While the goal is reducing plastic bag pollution, paper was added so as not to discriminate.” We don’t want to discriminate against paper in San Francisco you see, ladies and gentlemen. “‘The whole point here is to encourage the elimination of waste, not to make people pay more for groceries,’ said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste.” This is further evidence that these people do not understand market economics at its most basic.
“We want to eliminate waste, not make people pay more for groceries.” What are they going to take their groceries of our there with? If you charge 17 cents, is it going to make people less inclined to use bags? No, because there’s no alternative. If they stuff stuff in their pockets, you’re going to get ’em for shoplifting — and what is the impact of this going to be on the poor, folks? What are they going to put in their own shopping carts that they have stolen from these grocery stores? If you want to really get to a cost problem, look at all the grocery carts that get stolen by the homeless that these stores have to replace. But, meanwhile, they have been stolen. You’ve got the homeless out there pushing around their carts. What are they going to put in them? They can’t afford 17 cents a bag so they’re going to be stealing bags. They’re going to be stealing people’s bags of groceries as they take them to their cars from the grocery store. Unbelievable. The city of San Francisco triumphs once again.
RUSH: Here’s Sheila in Tularosa, New Mexico. You’re next on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Rush.
CALLER: I’m calling about the San Francisco, the store that’s thinking about charging for their bags, grocery bags.
RUSH: The city, the city, the city —
CALLER: The city.
RUSH: — is going to impose on the stores a 17-cent charge per bag, plastic or paper, yes.
CALLER: Well, you know, I think in some ways this could be a good idea. There are… You probably don’t do much shopping, so you don’t realize the number of —
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait! Now, wait a minute. Why would you say that I don’t do too much shopping? How am I going to get what I need if I don’t shop?
CALLER: Well, do you do the grocery shopping, et cetera?
CALLER: Okay. Well, grocery shopping is one of the things that you get.
RUSH: But I have.
CALLER: Okay. Well, you realize how many bags you can get, especially since the bags anymore are little, so you just come home with just a multitude of bags that the only thing you can do with them is trash them.
RUSH: You can use them to line your own trash bag.
CALLER: Well, I do, but eventually they still get thrown away.
CALLER: I get more than I can use in my trash cans.
RUSH: It’s multiple purpose.
CALLER: Well, multiple purpose, but they’re still a non-disposable that goes to the landfill.
RUSH: Look, I used on shop back when they had real bags in grocery stories. I mean, real big bags —
CALLER: Paper bags.
RUSH: Yes. You get out of there with two bags, and they went to these cheap little things. I know what you’re talking about, these cheap little white plastic bags here, takes about eight of them to hold what two of those paper bags used to hold —
RUSH: — and they only did that so they could hire these grocery boys to take the stuff out to the car for you. Union requirement.
CALLER: My point is, though, that if the stores would for one month give away free reusable bags, net bags, cloth bags, whatever, they would —
RUSH: Uch! And you gotta bring ’em back?
CALLER: Sure. You know, they fold up; they’re little. It would be a little inconvenience, but I think it would be a good idea, I think it would be a good idea nationally because we do need to do something about what all is going into our landfills, and I think that this would — this could work well. It would take a concentrated effort, and —
RUSH: Do you know those things are degradable? They degrade. What’s going into our landfills? What do I not know now?
CALLER: Well, like disposable diapers, all these plastic bags that you put your trash in, which I do —
CALLER: — and it goes to the landfill. I actually get more bags than what I can use.
RUSH: Well, I have —
CALLER: Lots of plastic stuff that is not biodegradable, and —
RUSH: How about this. Let’s take your idea and expand it.
RUSH: If it’s a good idea it will work other places. So we’ve got these reusable net bags, what have you said, woven —
CALLER: Yeah. Well, Europeans use them frequently.
RUSH: Well, that’s a reason to do it.
CALLER: No, I agree. Look, I’m as conservative as you are, Rich [sic?Rush].
RUSH: Yeah, uh-huh.
CALLER: Rush, I’m sorry. But I still think that doesn’t rule out being a conservationist.
RUSH: Not at all, I agree totally. I conserve a lot of things.
CALLER: And I think this is something that sounds like it could work and could eliminate some things —
CALLER: — that are going into our landfill, and yeah —
RUSH: You still… Okay, so the whole point here is these plastic bags.
RUSH: All right, now, if we eliminate these from the grocery — and, by the way, charging 17 cents is not going to eliminate them.
CALLER: No, there will be people that will pay for him because they’re too lazy to —
RUSH: What else are they going to use? Whether it’s paper or plastic, they’re going to charge 17 cents. What pray tell else are we going to use? And even if we do… Let’s say that the 17 cents works magic like it never has before and it’s so expensive that grocery story patrons refuse to pay the 17 cents and your idea of the reusable net bag comes into play. The number of grocery bags sold in this country probably equals or it’s close one way or the other to the number of trash bags, tall, short, medium-sized black and white green kitchen trash bags out there. Now, those are just as bad as the grocery store bags. What are we going to do for the trash? Are we going to have a net trash bag, too, that you take to the landfill and you dump it yourself, or just to your nearest Dumpster and then reuse the net trash bag for trash in your house?
RUSH: Well, why not?
CALLER: I would not recommend that but, you know, what we used to use in our trash cans was the large paper bags that we got at the grocery store.
RUSH: Well, I —
CALLER: And I admit, you know, sometimes they leak, and I’m as spoiled as the next person because I use the plastic trash bags.
CALLER: But I’m saying I could not — I could do something else, and it would be better for all of us, and I think that the net bags for grocery shopping would at least be a start, and —
RUSH: Okay, what happens if somebody goes to the grocery store and, “Ah, damn it!” They realize they forgot to bring their net bag. Then what do they do?
CALLER: Well, I’m sure the grocery store will always have bags for people who forget those —
RUSH: That you could buy, yes, you could buy, yeah.
CALLER: Yes, but it would not hurt them to also carry the net bags —
CALLER: — and I would think that if they have to, if they can cut back on the number of disposable plastic or paper bags —
CALLER: — that they carry things out in, that would reduce their cost.
RUSH: You said — it’s got me thinking — you said that back in the old days that you used your paper trash bag in the trash can and you emptied those. I don’t remember. My mom didn’t do that. We just dumped trash in an old tin trash can and put it in the big trash can, the garbage guys came, took it away, and there were no bags whatsoever.
CALLER: Yeah, well, we just burned ours because we didn’t have trash pickup
CALLER: We just burned ours because we didn’t have trash pickup.
RUSH: Yeah. Well —
CALLER: But, yeah, you can do that and just wash out your plastic trash can. You don’t have to have something to line it.
RUSH: Absolutely right. I don’t know. People have just gotten too lazy here and we’ve made life too convenient for people and that’s what we need to do is do it like the Europeans do. So, at any rate, Sheila, I’m glad you’re thinking about this. Everybody has to think about something, and I’m glad you’ve been thinking about this. I appreciate it.
RUSH: I’m being inundated with e-mail on this shopping bag story. It’s the biggest subject all day in the e-mail. Everybody’s got a thought on it. But I am just — and I’m even getting e-mail from people who said their stores have tried these net bags and eventually gave up on it because the customers forgot about it or became too big a burden. They just want to go to the store, shop, and bring stuff home, and they got rid of the stuff because it was not a service to the customer to ask the customer to bring something in order to remove the products he or she purchased from the store. It’s ridiculous. But anyway, have you ever noticed, folks, there’s a tendency out there whenever any idea comes along — whether you think it’s a bad idea or not — somebody thinks it’s a good idea, they want to make it a law? Whatever happened to the free market? Okay, so you don’t like plastic trash bags. Don’t go to a grocery store that uses them. Let the grocery stores decide. But a law? We’re missing the whole point! San Francisco’s passed a law on this: 17 cents a bag. I’ve always said, “Follow the money.”
Seventeen cents a bag? Somebody’s going to be profiting from this because they know damn well nobody’s going to get rid of these bags or stop using these bags. It’s a profit center, folks. All this is, is the grocery store lobby has gotten hold of the city council in San Francisco and said, “We want to get some help with our profit margin here because we’re giving too many of these bags away, and they’re not usable.” When’s the last time you went to a store and got anything for free? You know, now, I’m sure the cost is already put in each individual item for the bags. But they want to raise the cost, under the guise — and of course what a better place to try this than in this environmentally conscious San Francisco — do this under the guise of cleaning up the environment. That way you’ll get every sap out there to pay the 17 cents per bag thinking they’re do something good for Mother Erf. It’s a bunch of slick people out there. This is one of the greatest capitalist tricks I’ve ever heard perpetrated on a liberal population with a liberal population eatin’ it up. There’s something to learn here, folks.