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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Bag tax: Will it punish the poor and is government getting too intrusive?

Why stop with just bags?

Editor, The Times:

If plastic and paper bags are so bad that the city of Seattle wants to make a 20 cent per bag tax, why stop there? How about the plastic bags The Seattle Times comes in? The city of Seattle could charge The Times 20 cents a bag for each of those. Or if you don’t want a wet newspaper, a 20 cent fee per delivery could be added to subscribers’ bills.

Or how about all those disposable diapers that really clog up the landfill? We could charge an extra 20 cents a box for those. Would that change people’s behavior?

What about Starbucks? Shouldn’t there be a charge for the disposable cups they use and maybe an extra charge for the lids? What about the paper or plastic bag you carry out of fast-food restaurants? Shouldn’t those also be included in this behavioral-modification effort? How about all the consumers who buy plastic bags to put their garbage in, or even worse, buy bottled water?

I’m happy I do not live in the city of Seattle. I don’t think it’s the government’s role to change people’s behavior.

And just so you know where I’m coming from, I used diaper service 25 years ago before it was considered green. I have reusable bags for my groceries, I use cloth napkins almost exclusively, I use the newspaper bags from The Seattle Times to scoop after my dogs and I actually prefer the coffee shops that have a real ceramic cup for my latte.

I also think it’s a great incentive that Fred Meyer deducts 5 cents from my grocery bill for every bag I bring in and Trader Joes enters my name in a drawing each time I remember my own bags. Personally, I prefer the positive approach!

— Sally Bastine, Sammamish

It’s a tax, not a fee

I believe it is journalistically dishonest and irresponsible in your article [“20 cents per bag: Would it change our behavior?” page one, July 18] to repeatedly refer to the proposed bag tax as a “fee.”

A fee is something one pays for a product or service. A tax is a charge imposed by authority upon persons or property for a public purpose. This charge unequivocally meets the definition of a tax, as this is clearly an “add on” by the city to the customer, who otherwise would not incur a specific charge for this product.

— Larry Merkle, Seattle

Will public officials pay for my multiuse plastic bags?

The article on charging for plastic bags doesn’t mention that Portland Mayor Sam Adams has banned the plastic-bag tax as an undue burden on the poor. This is no different from Seattle’s Referendum 1.

This is another regressive tax that nickels and dimes Seattle’s poorest citizens. I invite Seattle’s altruistic mayor and City Council to pay my plastic-bag fee out of their incomes.

Surviving on Social Security, I can’t afford new fees or taxes of any kind. The virtually leakproof plastic bag comes in with the groceries and goes out with the garbage in it.

There’s not a more useful, convenient item than the plastic bag. Therefore, I’ll vote against the bag tax.

— Bob Miller, Seattle

Comments | More in Seattle, Taxes

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