Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seattle Bags Bag Tax

Seattle, Washington was set to be the first major city in the country to implement a plastic bag tax like the one Washington, DC recently passed, and I oppose. In a referendum yesterday, 60% of Seattle voters opposed it. And so it's done: No bag tax in Seattle. That leaves DC as the petri dish in this country for the effects of a tax on shopping bags.

Seattle is without question one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the country. These guys have been recycling since before there were landfills. They have biodeisel fueling stations. There's so much hemp clothing there, you can get a contact high in a laundromat.

And the voters rejected a bag tax.

An independent group of economists has opposed the Seattle tax since the beginning, arguing that there will be significant economic impact and very little if any benefit to the environment.

The opposition to the bag tax was well-funded by the petroleum industry. They spent over a million dollars on PR. The proponents of the law, in comparison, raised less than $70,000.

Of course, the losers here will argue that big-business interests won the day. I don't see it that way at all. If there was any kind of significant community support for the tax, don't you think they could have come up with more than 70 grand for something important? Maybe, just maybe, there wasn't a very strong sentiment in favor of the tax. And at the end of the day, this was won by a vote. Maybe the Seattle voters aren't that stupid after all.

Too bad in DC, the law prevents any referendum that will have a fiscal impact. We don't have the chance to vote on our bag tax. We just had it shoved down our throats by people who really have no idea what the impact will be, who seem to know what's best for us, consequences be damned. So much for home rule.

If there could be a referendum here, there is no doubt in my mind that the tax would be trounced. If 60% of hippie-crunchy voters in Seattle don't favor it, imagine what the vote would look like in DC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see that vote. You'll get used to carrying a reusable bag, and we'll all get used to less trash on our streets.