- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The paper/plastic bag fee conundrum ranks as an all-time-high for bureaucratic overkill. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells is proposing a 5-cent payment by customers on every plastic or paper shopping bag. Other cities have taken similar steps, with Seattle imposing a 20-cent fee. Maryland State Delegate Alfred C. Carr Jr. has jumped on the bandwagon, promoting the Chesapeake Bay Consumer Choice Act of 2009. All this is intended to curb use of both bag types and, more immediately, pay for cleanups.

Don’t these people realize they’re missing a huge opportunity for a job-stimulus program? How about hiring some out-of-work unskilled laborers to clear out this mess? Hmm, that might entail using illegal immigrants.

Well, maybe we could put our local jailbirds on it - except that doing so violates labor laws. Darn!

Hold on; all is not lost. Customers could take their rolling suitcases to the grocery. Just throw the smelly fish wrappings, leaky meat packages and drippy milk containers right in.

Oops. That might lead to dumps full of reeking luggage.

But wait! Solve three problems at once: obesity, mindless consumerism and trash-bag pollution. Pass a law mandating the purchase of no more than a person can carry in hand at one time. Think of it! Progressively healthy bodies sprinting from home to store dozens of times per day!

Rats… that might compromise the fitness industry and launch a rise in already ludicrous running-shoe prices.

OK, fitness clubs: They could undergo an extreme makeover making cloth bags, which then could be sold to former customers to carry groceries. Cotton bags, viscose bags, nylon bags, even high-end cashmere for “rich” folks making $500,000 a year.

Yes, sir, in America, everything is possible … if not necessarily plausible.

BEVERLY K. EAKMAN

Kensington

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