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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
BYOB: A Guide to Prompting a Culture Shift
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
The great success story is Ireland, where a 15 Euro-cent plastic bag tax imposed in 2002 quickly resulted in a 90 percent drop in bag use.
I need some help to break the disposable bag habit.
I know those ubiquitous plastic grocery bags are a major source of litter on both land and sea, and that such debris can poison fish and choke wildlife. I’ve cringed at bags stuck in trees along the highway and twisted in tall grasses that line tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Yet, a reusable cloth bag languishes in the back seat of my car, utterly forgotten until it mocks me when I return from shopping carrying more of the wretched plastic things.
Luckily, there’s new hope for anti-bag action from the nation’s capital. The District of Columbia City Council recently approved a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags dispensed by groceries, restaurants, liquor stores, and quick marts beginning in January. Amazingly, the vote was unanimous.
D.C.’s shut-out victory comes at a time when the Baltimore City Council is struggling to gain traction on a similar measure, the Philadelphia City Council rejected a plastic bag ban outright and the Annapolis City Council, an early leader in the anti-bag debate, seems to have given up on the effort.
Lessons from the legislative drive led by D.C. City Councilman Tommy Wells could guide anti-bag crusaders elsewhere. He said he designed it like an election campaign. He mastered his subject, learned from mistakes elsewhere, built a coalition of supporters, framed the debate, muted or isolated the opposition and essentially had the battle already won when he introduced the bill in February with 12 of 13 council members as lead sponsors.
Some key bits of wisdom gleaned:
A fee on both paper and plastic bags is more practical than a plastic ban. Plastic bags are cheaper than paper. Thus, a proposal to ban plastic draws fierce opposition from merchants and fails to address the environmental and energy costs of paper. A tax or fee—call it what you will--can be put toward a clean-up fund, but the real goal is to inspire shoppers to bring their own bag.
The great success story is Ireland, where a 15 Euro-cent plastic bag tax imposed in 2002 quickly resulted in a 90 percent drop in bag use. Merchants were discouraged from offering paper alternatives, so most Irish shoppers started carrying cloth bags. When plastic bag use started to creep back up in 2006, the bag levy was raised by another seven cents in 2007, and the trend reversed. Baltimore is considering a 25-cent bag fee for maximum effect. But Wells feared a high fee couldn’t pass and believes the Irish proved the smaller levy can also work.
The anti-bag campaign should be built around a clear environmental mission. In Washington, the cause was the Anacostia River--a long troubled waterway polluted by 20,000 tons of trash a year, of which half is plastic bags. In Ireland, there was great concern about the loss of the fabled green countryside, which was being spoiled by unsightly plastic bags. Neither Baltimore nor Philadelphia has so clearly identified such a rallying point.
Chief among the talking points of the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastic bag makers, is that bag fees amount to a tax on the poor.
Don’t let the opposition turn the debate on class and income. Chief among the talking points of the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastic bag makers, is that bag fees amount to a tax on the poor. This powerful argument has been embraced by Baltimore City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and could well doom the legislation.
In similar circumstances, Wells fought back two ways. He discovered that many of the elderly poor shop at discount groceries that are able to lower their food prices by charging for bags. Thus, he could argue that free bags for the rich and lazy are effectively being subsidized by the poor.
Beyond that, Wells contended it was insulting to suggest that poor people don’t care about the environment. Here, again, the Anacostia was a particularly helpful symbol. It flows through Washington’s poorest neighborhoods, and lacks the prestige of the iconic Potomac. Cleaning up the Anacostia thus became a social justice issue.
Washington’s experience should mark a turning point in the anti-bag debate. Neither convenience nor tough times justifies maintaining this destructive practice. Mary Pat Clarke, a Baltimore city councilwoman who has long championed the anti-bag cause, predicts some form of bag restriction will pass this year.
As for me, I’ve got two cloth bags riding shotgun now. I still forget to take them into stores, but return with my hands full of un-bagged stuff to avoid the bags’ reproach.
Guilt only accomplishes so much, though. Take it from the Irish, a good kick in the fee department can work wonders.
Karen Hosler, a former editorial writer for the Baltimore Sun, is a reporter and commentator for 88.1 WYPR in Baltimore. This article is distributed by Bay Journal News Service. Visit www.bayjournalnewsservice.com or call 410-972-2470 to learn more about this service or to access its past columns and news and feature stories.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on July 7, 2009.
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