Friday, November 07, 2008

Another Day, Another Taxing Proposal From Mayor Bloomberg

In addition to all the other taxes proposed by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, he's now pushing the idea of taxing plastic bags. How very nanny state of him.
Mayor Bloomberg wants to nickel and dime you at the grocery store - taxing you an extra 5 cents for every plastic bag you take home.

The controversial charge could raise at least $16 million for the cash-strapped city while keeping tons of plastic out of landfills, city officials said Thursday - but some outraged shoppers aren't buying it.

"Bloomberg is a piece of work," Clemelda Gipson, 39, said outside a D'Agostino grocery store in Chelsea. "Food is expensive and now we have to pay for the bags, too? They should try to come up with ideas and solutions and not just more taxes."

Others said they would bring their own cloth bags rather than pay more at the store.

"I think it's a good idea. There is way too much plastic being used at the grocery stores anyways," said actress Denise Lute. "We need to be eco-conscious. If I'm charged a nickel it'll make me take my own bag."

New Yorkers use an estimated 1 billion plastic bags per year. City officials aren't sure what bags they plan to tax, or how they'd collect it - though they're considering allowing merchants to charge an extra penny per bag, giving them an incentive to track it.
This follows a measure in Seattle imposing a bag fee. The fact is that the market is already moving in a direction of lessened usage of bags. Some supermarkets are already pushing the notion of giving discounts for using your own reusable bags or reusing store bags. Ikea charges several pennies a bag to discourage using plastic bags. That's a market solution that makes far more sense than a nanny state solution that ends up being highly regressive.

It makes good business sense to reduce bag usage, since businesses can lower their overhead - after all, not every item needs to be bagged, and you can reward people for not using the store's plastic or paper bags.

If imposed, this is yet another expense that supermarkets and stores would have to track, which is yet another additional cost of doing business in New York City at a time when businesses are struggling to hold on to customers.

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