Analysis: Does Statewide Plastic Bag Referendum Even Matter?

A signature gatherer outside a local big box collects signatures in November 2014
A signature gatherer outside a local big box store collects signatures in November 2014

In February a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags was put on hold as the industry succeeded in qualified a referendum for the November 2016 ballot. But as more and more local communities have already banned single-use plastic bags, one question is whether the industry is fighting a losing battle, as the proverbial cat may already be out of the bag.

One of the latest cities to join the single-use plastic bag ban is Sacramento, whose ordinance will take effect on Friday. Sacramento joins with a flurry of new communities in 2016 to push the number to 145 communities that have enacted such bans. These bans take effect despite the statewide referendum and will remain on the books regardless of the outcome.

More than a third of Californians live in areas where single-use bags are already banned. A 2014 poll showed “broad support among voters, presenting a challenge for industry groups that hope to overturn the law.”

Sixty percent of the voters who responded to the survey support the ban. More interesting is that the support is broader than current policies. Fifty-two percent of respondents live in a community that has already banned disposable plastic bags and 60 percent support the ban, with just 35 percent in opposition.

The Times poll found that even 52 percent of the people who do not live under local restrictions support the ban.

This figures to be a very tricky landscape for the industry to wage a campaign. First, with more than a third of Californians already under the ban, those individuals will have no stakes at all in the outcome. And while some may oppose the ban on principle, it won’t change their personal situation.

Second, the usual tactics may not work. Broad changes like these see campaigns focusing on scaring the voters out of change – but in places where people already live under the ban, they may not like it, but they have learned to cope with the new reality.

Naturally a campaign will target the areas not under the ban currently, where scare tactics might be more effective – but a strategy that ignores voters in the major metropolitan areas already covered under the ban figures to be a losing strategy.

This week, an article in the Bee quoted Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry group. He said earlier this year that “the proposed ordinance in Sacramento wouldn’t have a meaningful impact on the environment” and would enrich grocery chains at the expense of shoppers.

That such a ban would enrich grocery chains seems a questionable claim, and it will be more difficult to make the argument that a ban on plastic bans statewide will not have a meaningful impact on the environment.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said Governor Brown in signing the legislation. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

“A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs,” added Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the legislation.

Each year, more than 13 billion single-use plastic bags are handed out by retailers. According to CalRecycle, just three percent are actually recycled in California. Plastic bags cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers.

The combined cost of single-use plastic bags to California consumers and state and local government for use, clean-up and disposal is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars annually. SB 270 phases out single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores and pharmacies.

Single-use plastic bags are also harmful to the environment, killing thousands of birds, turtles and other species. A study commissioned by the US Marine Debris Monitoring Program found that single-use plastic bags remain one of the top items found consistently during annual beach cleanups. Additionally, plastic items are estimated to compose 60-80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of all floating debris worldwide.

“Single-use plastic bags litter our beaches, our mountains, deserts, rivers, streams and lakes. SB 270 addresses this problem while striking the right balance. It protects the environment as well as California jobs as we transition to reusable bags and a greener economy,” said Senator Padilla.

“For nearly 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags is already a reality,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the LA Times in October. “Bag bans reduce plastic pollution and waste, lower bag costs at grocery stores, and now we’re seeing job growth in California at facilities that produce better alternatives.”

In the end though, the biggest factor in a statewide ban might be the individual communities stepping forward to enact their own bans. That is what created the momentum for the statewide ban and what will likely make the statewide ban a moot point – and, therefore, a reality.

That is something to keep in mind as we watch the local soda tax ordinance pushed forward, and countered by its own industry forces. In the end these wars appear to be won at the local level through the creation of a critical mass.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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58 Comments

  1. SODA

    Good article David and good analogy to soda I think. It is amazing how quickly we or at least I adapted to the bag ban; I had tried for years to remember to bring bags from the trunk but this did it. Collapsible bags helped; what could the analogy be to soda, dare I suggest….water?

    Happy New Year!

  2. Tia Will

    In the end these wars appear to be won at the local level through the creation of a critical mass.”

    And here for me, is the real bottom line. All changes in how we live our lives are made one individual at a time. The decision to smoke or not smoke is an individual decision first and foremost.

    I heard arguments for years that regulating cost through taxes, or not advertising on TV, or labeling would not have any significant impact since those who were going to smoke were going to smoke anyway. What this discounts is the impact that the decision of single individual has on those around them. We are social animals. As such we are greatly influenced by the individual stories and choices of those around us. If there is a social stigma attached to a behavior, fewer of us will engage in that behavior. If there is an increased cost to a behavior, fewer of us will engage in that behavior.

    Since we do not know what approach will resonate the most with a given individual a multifaceted approach will always be necessary if we wish to address any major issue whether that is taxes, or pollution, or public health, or health care costs. So will the single bag that I do not throw out today make a difference to the state’s pollution problems ?  Of course not, but in aggregate, absolutely. When all of us make the decision not to discard these bags, it will absolutely make a difference.

  3. Barack Palin

    We don’t need Davis to be a guinea pig in some local social engineering activism.  Only one other city has a soda tax and they’re whacko.  City council and staff don’t need to be wasting time and money on these types of distractions.

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          Why should one small group of liberal activists decide what’s best for everyone and tell them how they need to live their lives?”

          The point that you are missing is that the “one small group of liberal activists” are not attempting to decide what is best for everyone and “tell them how they need to live their lives”.

          The ask is for the City Council to put the soda tax on the ballot and let the voters of the city as a whole decide whether or not they want to assess this tax on themselves.

          I think that this is very undemocratic of you. What you are essentially saying is that those of us who favor the tax should not be allowed to have a say. You would like the anti-taxers to pre-empt my right to even have a vote in the matter. How is this any different from your group “social engineering ” by not allowing an alternative to be voted upon ?

        2. Barack Palin

          But we’re only considering a soda tax or possibly have it go to ballot because of a small group of social engineering activists.  They chose the boogie monster to attack.

          1. David Greenwald

            But the voters all get to decide whether they agree. Each side will make its case. The beverage industry will have millions to make their count-case.

            You still haven’t explained why social engineering is a negative despite many people now asking you to explain.

        3. Miwok

          I guarantee these “single use bags” are anything but.. Pet owners everywhere would agree. They fit bathroom trash cans very well, and lots of picnics are facilitated by a reused bag after it has toted the groceries.

  4. Tia Will

    BP

     City council and staff don’t need to be wasting time and money on these types of distractions.”

    I do not see the health and well being of the members of our community as a “distraction”. Our rising health care costs alone should be enough to convince even the most fiscally conservative amongst us that costs associated with health care are far more than a “distraction”.  As one of your fellow citizens BP, these are exactly the kinds of issues that I want our city council to be focused on.

    1. Topcat

      Our rising health care costs alone should be enough to convince even the most fiscally conservative amongst us that costs associated with health care are far more than a “distraction”.

      As I posted on another blog, I wonder why there is no effort, or even discussion about the idea of putting some reasonable limitations on the use of SNAP benefits to buy soda and possibly other sugar filled “junk food”?  This should appeal to health advocates as a way to help poor people to get healthier, more nutritious food, and it should appeal to fiscal conservatives as a way to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on providing poor people with junk food.

      I do understand that this would need to happen at the federal level, so perhaps people don’t see any realistic possibility of getting this through Congress.  Maybe it’s just more fun to argue endlessly about local taxes?

      1. Tia Will

        TopCat

        I was not attempting to ignore your comment about SNAP benefit as I do have several thoughts about this. First as you noted, I tend to like to focus my energies on local issues as opposed to much broader ones.

        I do have a couple of reservations about putting limitations on SNAP benefits.

        1. First, logistically speaking.

        Who gets to decide what items will go on the forbidden list ? Will this require yet another layer of bureaucracy to manage ? Who will be the enforcers of such regulations ?

        2. In terms of basic decency.

        Can no one ever purchase anything off the forbidden list ? No one can make a one time purchase of a treat for a child’s birthday or a steak or fish purchase for an anniversary dinner ?

        How about those such as AmeriCorps workers who are paid below subsistence wages, but as part of their total compensation receive SNAP benefits. This would apply for example to my foodie daughter who is in her second year of AmeriCorps service to the country. So no more healthy Mediterranean style food choices for her because although she is working full time in a reading program for disadvantaged children, she gets SNAP benefits ?

        1. Topcat

          Who gets to decide what items will go on the forbidden list ? Will this require yet another layer of bureaucracy to manage ? Who will be the enforcers of such regulations ?

          Yes, this is a concern.  I am not a big fan of government bureaucracies and I know how complicated it might get to set limitations.  I do know that the WIC program sets some pretty strict limitations on what can be purchased with WIC vouchers.  I don’t envision anything like that for SNAP.  If we are concerned about poor people getting healthy nutritious food I do think that it makes sense to put some basic, easily understood and enforced restrictions on what can be purchased.

          Can no one ever purchase anything off the forbidden list ? No one can make a one time purchase of a treat for a child’s birthday or a steak or fish purchase for an anniversary dinner ?

          I don’t see this as a big problem as most people who get SNAP benefits also have some sort of cash assistance or sources of income that they can use to purchase whatever they want.  I have a close relative who gets SSI disability benefits and she frequently buys treats and meals out that SNAP does not cover.

          If we are concerned about healthy eating and nutrition I find it hard to understand why we continue to see it as OK for our poorest citizens to have their consumption of unhealthy junk food and sodas subsidized by the taxpayers.  To me, it seems like this is a cause that both liberals and conservatives could get behind.  It would, of course, face massive opposition from the food and beverage companies that produce all that junk food and make large contributions to our political candidates.

        2. Barack Palin

          Who gets to decide what items will go on the forbidden list ? Will this require yet another layer of bureaucracy to manage ? Who will be the enforcers of such regulations ?

          LOL, I can’t believe you actually wrote this?  You being being someone who is pushing hard for a soda tax wonders who gets to decide what items will be forbidden?  Who gets to decide which items should be put to a tax vote?  Will this new soda tax require yet another layer of bureaucracy?  Who will be the enforcers?

           

    2. hpierce

      Absolutely… we need a State Department of Public Health, with a healthy budget, a County Department of Health, with a healthy budget, and a new City Department of Public Health, with a healthy budget.

      Perhaps we could fund the new dept. by eliminating all retiree and current employee medical benefits, to the extent permitted by law…

    3. Miwok

      Our rising health care costs alone should be enough to convince even the most fiscally conservative amongst us that costs associated with health care are far more than a “distraction”.

      Way off topic, unless you want to tie in Plastic Bags with Health Care Costs?

  5. Tia Will

    BP

    We don’t need Davis to be a guinea pig in some local social engineering activism.”

    You use the term social engineering repetitively as though it were a negative. I would put forward the idea that all human life within groups is “socially engineered”. Our laws are a form of social engineering since they shape our behaviors under risk of punishment.

    Let’s take a really simple example. Women’s clothing. Much fuss has been made about how women in some Islamic countries are forced by law to cover their hair, or arms or faces…. and decry this as subjugation of women. However, we all seem completely oblivious to the fact that in our country women are not allowed to expose their breasts in public while men are. It is considered “indecent” whatever that means, since I see nothing at all “indecent” about a woman’s breasts but we accept this form of “social engineering” in the form of telling women how they must dress as normal. We blindly accept our own laws as the norm and expect them to be enforced regardless of whether or not they are “social engineering” if they are acceptable to us personally, and condemn them only when they do not fit our own view of what is desirable.

    I am no better or worse than you or anyone else in this regard. The only difference is that I want this measure to come to a vote and you do not. So who is really trying to force their will on others ?

    1. hpierce

      Look at it a different way… if staff was not working on the investigation of the soda tax, they would be accomplishing other tasks serving the public.  So what should we put aside as services, to work on the tax?  There are other direct costs to put a measure on the ballot.  Should we divert money from road maintenance, paying off debts incurred to date, etc., to fund putting the tax measure on the ballot?  Alternatively, IF a tax is approved, should all initial proceeds be used to “back-fund” the current/proposed efforts to enact the tax?  Don’t fool yourself… there are real costs involved.  This also applies to ANY consideration of ANY taxes, or ANY “what if” efforts.  It would be interesting to know the total costs to pursue and implement the plastic bag ordinance… probably all from the GF.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “if staff was not working on the investigation of the soda tax, they would be accomplishing other tasks serving the public.  So what should we put aside as services, to work on the tax? ”

        aren’t you really talking about finance staff?  what services would they ordinarily do other than analyzing finances?

        1. hpierce

          No, I’m not “really talking about Finance staff”.  And, even if I were, unless they are just sitting around, waiting for something to do [which, I’m pretty darn sure, is not the case], then “something” is displaced, as far as workload.

           

      2. Tia Will

        hpierce

        Don’t fool yourself… there are real costs involved.  “

        I am not fooling myself. A few days ago I asked one of our city leaders what the actual costs of putting a measure on the ballot were. This leader was unable to give a numeric answer but felt it was more likely to run in the tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands and did promise to look into the issue for me.

        For me it is not a straight forward equation as there are simply too many variables and too much obfuscation of how expenses are met in our system. For example, let’s use that soda tax and do a little speculating which I have not done so far. But since so many opponents are willing to state that they know that it will be ineffective, just bear with me in my projections.

        So let’s suppose that just one woman in Davis, prompted in part by greater awareness of the potentially detrimental effects of sodas coupled with the increased costs decides that she is going to stop drinking sodas entirely before her pregnancy. She loses a modest 10 lbs over the course of the year ( as I did so it is not an unreasonable outcome) and starts her pregnancy just a little closer to her target weight. She does not develop gestational diabetes. She does not develop gestational hypertension and her baby is born at term and of a normal weight instead of prematurely. Now the taxpayers have saved the short term but extremely expensive neonatal intensive care nursery costs ( typically in the hundreds of thousands for a prolonged stay) and potentially the increased educational support costs if there is resultant neurologic damage ( very common in preterm deliveries). Now we have savings from both medical and educational expenses.  If you think that this is far fetched, just talk to someone who had a complicated pregnancy with a neurologically damaged infant. If anything, I am being conservative.

        1. hpierce

          First, I said a ballot measure was in the tens of thousands…you implied I said 100k+ … untrue.

          Second, taxpayers  don’t pay for all the costs you allude to.  Much of those costs are passed thru to medical insurance ratepayers.

    2. Miwok

      Let’s take a really simple example. Women’s clothing.

      Again off topic, unless women cover their breasts with Plastic Bags.. Try, really Try, to not digress. 🙂

  6. Frankly

    Social engineering through the political process is generally bad because it fails to adequately factor the consequences.  Banning incandescent bulbs is a good example.  The result was more poison mercury in the environment as people had to turn to fluorescent bulbs.  And the light from fluorescent bulbs also resulted in some more health problems for people.  And analysts admit that the banning of incandescent bulbs had a de minimis impact on the rate of development nor adoption of led light bulbs… which still have not stabilized in terms of quality and cost.  It was a backdoor tax on consumers without any real benefit to society.  It was just a tyranny of a minority of ignorant “I want to feel good about myself” activists.

    Social engineering is frankly un-American.

        1. Barack Palin

          David Progressive, see above, I already answered it.

          Why should one small group of liberal activists decide what’s best for everyone and tell them how they need to live their lives?

           

        2. Davis Progressive

          that’s a complaint, not a definition. frankly actually defined the term.

          on the other hand, your quip is false. it’s not a small group of liberal activists deciding what’s best for everyone – it’s the community through the collective vote of the city council and the support of the voters.

    1. Davis Progressive

      thanks for putting some flesh on an otherwise amorphous term.  now that you have giving something to swing at, i can counter.  so the negative consequence of banning smoking in public places is what?  of a cigarette tax is what?  of the clean air act of 1970 is what?

      1. Frankly

        Swing away!

        Banning smoking in public places is justified because of the science of second hand smoke.  The bans provide a general public benefit.  Although I think we have gone too far with smoking bans… beyond what the science proves.

        In terms of cigarette taxation we have gone way too far.  Cigarette taxes killed Eric Gardner.

        But again, cigarettes ain’t soda and soda ain’t cigarettes.  You make make the case that smoking any number of cigarettes is bad for your health, but you cannot make the same claim about soda.  You can drink soda in moderation and it is a fine product.  Coke tastes great!  It makes a fine mixer for cocktails.  I use coke in my carnitas recipe.   Marinate the pork shoulder in a wet mixture that is coke, salt and spices.

        Soda is a food product.  It is not a nutritious food product other than calories, but then there are a lot of food products that lack nutritional value other than calories.   And any of those food products can be over-consumed.

        Back to social engineering through top-down government mandated taxes and rules to live by.   The way I see it, when there is a real and calculable cost/danger/impact to all of society, I tend to support rules to live by.  In other words, if your behavior can negatively impact me I am supportive of rules to cause you penalty for that behavior.  However, if your behavior only materially harms you, then I do NOT support taxes and rules for everyone.  However, in some cases I would support taxes that are redirected at education to help reduce or eliminate the bad behavior.

        Maybe this is subtle, but I support social education, not social engineering. I support bottom up good behavior modeling instead of top down “tricks” to somehow force people to behave a certain way. The former is maybe harder to do, but lasting and sustainable. The latter just makes a mess of things… especially as we add up all these top-down taxes and rules to live by to someone engineer society into the utopian vision of a few.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Cigarette taxes killed Eric Gardner.”

          Hang on there Frankly. What ever happened to individual responsibility ?  I suppose the police officer that placed the choke hold had nothing to do with Eric Gardner’s death. Neither did the other officers who were present but did nothing to aide the increasingly distressed Gardner. Nope, it was those cigarette taxes that did it !

        1. hpierce

          Reading your cites, thinking that had the methodology, biases been slightly different, could apply to anyone with beliefs on either end of the ‘bell curve’… “staunch” uber-liberals are ‘conservative’ in a similar fashion.  That said, thank you for sharing the cites.

          My take-away was that some people are genetically, medically, prone to strongly reject any views other than he ones they acquired at some point.

          I’d argue that a staunch BANANA/NIMBY philosophy is, in fact, not liberal, but VERY conservative.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Since telling the truth is American, I disagree”

          Since when does telling the truth have a nationality. Do you believe that there is only one truth that all Americans agree with ?

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      Social engineering is frankly un-American.”

      Except of course that you are only defining “social engineering” to mean laws or regulations of which you do not approve. All laws are a form of social engineering in that every law is telling someone what they can and cannot do.  Do you believe in driving restrictions and speed limits ? Those are definitely social engineering and have definite impacts on people’s ability to go where they want to go as quickly as they want to get there.  Therefore “social engineering”.

       

       

    3. Miwok

      Social Engineering, IS American, just not in the Davis Context.  Through the country some Communities CHOSE to try something, to see if it would be good for everyone in their community, just for their community, and for a limited time.

      Davis has taken this to mean THEY can decide for their Community what is good for them and permanently create an ordinance. Why? Because many activists are still protesting the Viet Nam War, and they love the feeling of painting signs and Protesting something. I have seen this first hand, sat in meetings where some gray haired person who thinks everyone should feel the way they do, and not only propose something loony, they find a way to manipulate the process and convince the CC instead of putting it to a vote of all citizens.

      I agree Cigarettes are a good example, because I hate it and all the ordinances make me healthy. But remember when they said “it’s just for airline flights”, then pow. I would have never voted for this, because most of my family has killed themselves with smoking. Their choice, and just because I don’t like their choice, I would rather have manners and civility. Can we legislate that?

  7. Robb Davis

    Here, let’s try this:

    Social engineering through aggressive marketing is generally bad because it fails to adequately inform consumers of the negative consequences of using the products in question.  Promoting cigarette smoking over several generations is a good example.  The result was sharp increases in the incidence of emphysema and lung cancer.  And the nicotine in cigarettes was addictive assuring a long-term commitment to purchasing the product.  And industry insiders now admit that the “research” they used to back their claims of no negative effect of cigarettes was a sham… and when smoking advertisements were banned in most wealthy nations, they merely moved their marketing to the global south, which has led to increased rates of lung disease there.  Their marketing was a backdoor tax on generations of consumers who were addicted to the very products that led to such deleterious health outcomes–without any benefit to society AT ALL.  It was just a tyranny of a minority of self serving “I want to build profits on the back of consumers whom I will willingly kill in the process” corporate activists.

    Social engineering via marketing is (multiple choice): a) evil; b) un-American; c) acceptable because, after all, corporations return value to shareholders; d) part of the “free” market; or e) all of the above

    1. Frankly

      Social engineering through aggressive marketing is generally bad because it fails to adequately inform consumers of the negative consequences of using the products in question.

      Really Robb?  You are going to equate the marketing of a proven carcinogenic and physiologically-addictive product like cigarettes in a pre-Internet era to marketing of a non-addictive and only unhealthy if consumed in excess product like soda today when you can simply ask Google or Siri if soda is healthy?

      Hypothetically, if you could ask every adult resident in Davis if consuming three or more cans of soda a day is bad for your health, how many do you think would say “no”?

      Does your view of a well-engineered social utopia just expect a great number of people incapable of resisting the pull of advertising even as they clearly have access to copious information about what is healthy and what is not?  My view of a well-engineered social utopia is that copious information exists, and education is robust and adequate to pattern healthy choice, and that people learn that they are responsible for their own bad choices in life.  We have the first part that you seem to ignore, and your methods tend to discount and destroy the second two.

  8. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Hypothetically, if you could ask every adult resident in Davis if consuming three or more cans of soda a day is bad for your health, how many do you think would say “no”?

    I doubt that many would say “no”, but I know for a fact since I have asked the equivalent of  this question to Davis residents every office day for years, that many of them would say ” I have never given it any thought.”

    As for the rest of your post, even for you this is an elitist diatribe. Just because you have the ability to “just ask Siri….or Google” does not mean that everyone shares this ability. I have many patients who do not own or use a computer. I have many more patients who never access any educational channels or watch anything other than commercial television. You are making the classic mistake of assuming that because you know something or would look something up means that everyone would or should. This is a frankly ridiculous position. It makes no more real world sense than I would be making if I said, look establishing world peace is easy. All it takes is for everyone to become a pacifist as I am…..then there would be no more wars. Technically true, but just as ridiculous as your claim.

     

    1. Frankly

      Your pacifism allegory makes no sense to me.  But if what you write is true that we have a large population of people that don’t own a cell phone that can connect to the Internet, then maybe that is what the tax revenue from the soda tax should be used for.  I thought Obama bought all low income people a free cell phone?

      Seriously though, this is sounding more and more like the fluoride thing where the narrative was that we have ALL these fluoride-disadvantaged people and yet they are still nowhere to be found except in the myths and stories promulgated by those pushing the agenda.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        they are still nowhere to be found except in the myths and stories promulgated by those pushing the agenda.”

        I guess you consider having one in four children above their ideal body weight, or 1/3 adults meeting the standards for obesity, or over 1/2 our prenatal patients entering prenatal care either overweight or obese, or the Davis specific numbers that I provided on an earlier thread as “nowhere to be found”. I do not. It would appear that since you do not like this issue, you are choosing the option of closing your eyes, putting your fingers in your ears and intoning “la la la” hoping it will go away.

        I can assure you that the issue of obesity is real, present here and now and is not going away by ignoring it.  Its inherent increased risks which do not stop with diabetes but include across a person’s lifetime, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, increased risk of a number of forms of cancer with breast cancer and uterine cancer being the two examples just from my specialty, increased risk of need for joint replacement and all of the other problems attendant upon immobility in the older population to say nothing of the increased risks of obstetric problems which I have outlined previously are real and present, here and now.

        If there is a train coming, and you are standing on the tracks, the train does not care whether or not you believe it is there. It will kill you anyway if you do not move. This epidemic is here. It is affecting significant amounts of people in Davis. Whether you choose to accept that or not is totally irrelevant to the problem itself. Unfortunately whether you or others choose to believe it is very relevant to being will to work towards risk reduction.

         

  9. Tia Will

    BP

    Why should one small group of liberal activists decide what’s best for everyone and tell them how they need to live their lives?”

    I would rephrase this to ” Why should one small group of libertarians and commercial interests prevent citizens from voting on an issue for ourselves ? ” You seem to not understand that not allowing something to come to a vote is in itself a form of social engineering that you claim to hate so much. I suspect that you only hate it when it is limiting something that you like but will wholeheartedly back that social engineering when it blocks something you do not like.  For example, was it not yet who wants to limit a woman’s right to  and ability to obtain an abortion ? How much better an example of social engineering could you name ? And yet you were all for it.

  10. Tia Will

    hpierce

    First, I said a ballot measure was in the tens of thousands…you implied I said 100k+ … untrue.

    Second, taxpayers  don’t pay for all the costs you allude to.  Much of those costs are passed thru to medical insurance ratepayers.”

    With regard to your first sentence, I was not referencing your post but rather another conversation. No implication whatsoever that you said anything about 100 K + since I was not referring to anything you said.

    Second, who do you suppose those insurance ratepayers are ?  Not also taxpayers ? Do you think insurance costs you less because it is being paid to a private company than it would through taxes ?  I doubt either of us knows, but if you feel that you do, please provide your evidence. The money is out of the pocket of the individual whether it is going out in the form of tax or in the form of insurance bills. Either way it would be best if the health care cost less.

  11. Miwok

    I am surprised that Davisites are against Plastic bags, reformulated years ago to deteriorate in landfills, while they buy and drink bottled water? It would seem to take MORE plastic to make a bottle than a bag, and it does not get reused, although we all find other uses for them too?

    Why not go for the Plastic wrapping on almost everything that ships over from other countries, Including bottles? CDs, food. meat, etc. WHY only plastic bags that carry everything? The other types of plastic may be edible? 🙂

    1. David Greenwald

      One of the reasons they set the definition of plastic bags as they did was that it encompassed the vast majority of bags used – biggest bang for the buck. As for plastic water bottles, most enviros I know are against them.

    1. Tia Will

      Miwok

      Why not go for the Plastic wrapping on almost everything that ships over from other countries”

      I think that the “why not go after” question is always interesting. In addition to David’s point, there are several other factors.

      1. There is the issue of practicality. You have to have a readily definable object so people understand the scope of your proposal. Second you have to pick a target that is widely used in order to have an impact. Third the item must have clear drawbacks that are either apparent or can be explained readily.

      2. The impact of the proposal must be small enough to overcome the “but it’s more convenient factor” while being large enough to overcome the “but it won’t make any difference ” argument. Americans as a group our very wedded to our convenience and in many instances we value this short term perk over almost everything else including our own environment.

      3. There must be a champion and enough people who care about the issue to move it forward. Most Americans live such job driven lives that we frequently do not have, or do not perceive ourselves as having time to become involved in issues that matter to us. This is one of the reasons that protests and activism tend to occur amongst the young ( say our college students) and the older folks who are through with raising their families and may be nearing or beyond retirement and thus have the time to devote to these issues.

      4. The way our society is currently structured, most adults have to accept a job, whether they are interested in it or not,and whether or not it truly adds value to our society, just to feed, cloth and house themselves. We see this as the way things must be because we have been sold on the idea that our model of excessive work is the “best” despite the fact that most other developed countries structure their work/life balance far more towards the side of “life”. But what if we did not make this artificial distinction. What if we provided a living stipend, free education all the way through college and/or skills training ?  Could we not at least consider that if we were to do this, the individual who now spends their day selling us the huge bottles of soda and other plastic wrapped things that may or may not benefit us in any way, might be able to follow their true passion. Maybe they could even be working in the lab of one local researcher who is focusing on developing bacteria to break down these plastics. If, instead of pricing many promising students out of our higher education system, or artificially limiting the number of spots available as has been done in our medical system, there would be more people to address the issues that are causing us harm.

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