|Editorial: County should ‘bag’ the bag tax|
|Written by Los Altos Town Crier|
|Wednesday, 21 January 2009|
A recent proposal by the Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission for paper and plastic grocery and retail bag reduction and a 25 cent per-bag tax received a cool reception from the Los Altos City Council. The issue wasn’t so much bag reduction – in these “green” times, reductions are appropriate. It was the “tax” part of it that council members rejected.
We’re glad they did. Councilwoman Val Carpenter hit the nail on the head when she said the city would be better off implementing incentives for residents using fewer bags than agreeing to impose a tax. And the prospect of another tax in this weak economy is equivalent to hitting the taxpayers when they’re down. Frankly, there are far bigger environmental issues to tackle, such as toxic waste disposal and water conservation.
Let’s recognize this tax proposal for what it is: another way for cash-strapped Santa Clara County to bring in some revenue.
At the same time, we should not dismiss the green spirit in which the initiative is proposed.
As we have mentioned before, we can all make a difference in improving the environment. We can bring our own reusable bags to the supermarket rather than opting for paper or plastic.
It’s great that Safeway and other stores have bins at their entrances for recycling plastic bags. But the markets can provide further incentives for customers who don’t opt for bags, such as grocery discounts. For anyone who’s been in Whole Foods Market, an occasional price break would be quite welcome.
Incentives aside, residents can opt for reusable bags because it’s simply the right thing to do. And we’d like to see the markets provide the reusable bags themselves.
County officials are gathering input on this proposal for a vote Feb. 25 on whether to proceed. If they do, it would be up to individual cities in the county to decide whether to enact such an ordinance.
Feedback so far from residents shows major opposition to a bag tax. One survey showed respondents opposed it by a three-to-one margin. Among the reasons was establishment of a “wasteful bureaucracy” in managing the new tax.
Collectively, we could stand to improve on our wasteful ways, but education, not taxation, is the better way to go.
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