So many pie-in-the-sky liberal polices have consequences that far outreach their benefits, not least of which is simply the the general infringement on liberty. I’m happy to see that some are starting to come around and recognize this fact.
Case in point, San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags is actually KILLING PEOPLE!
Conservatives often point out that laws, no matter how benign they may appear, have unintended consequences. They can reverberate in ways that not many people foresaw and nobody wanted: Raising the minimum wage can increase unemployment; prohibition can create black markets.
The efforts in many cities to discourage the use of plastic bags demonstrate that such unintended consequences can be, among other things, kind of gross.
Most alarmingly, the industry has highlighted news reports linking reusable shopping bags to the spread of disease. Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times last May: “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.” The norovirus may not have political clout, but evidently it, too, is rooting against plastic bags.
Klick and Wright estimate that the San Francisco ban results in a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses, or 5.5 more of them each year. They then run through a cost-benefit analysis employing the same estimate of the value of a human life that the Environmental Protection Agency uses when evaluating regulations that are supposed to save lives. They conclude that the anti-plastic-bag policies can’t pass the test — and that’s before counting the higher health-care costs they generate.
Like the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Being environmentally conscious isn’t in itself a bad thing, but when governments force blanket regulations on entire populations, the consequences are often dire.