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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Bag tax: Plastic waste really is a problem

Don’t stop with tax, ban plastic bags entirely

Peter Nickerson and Randy Rucker [“Bag tax would be a lot of hassle with little environmental impact,” Opinion, guest column, August 5] just don’t get it.

Every piece of plastic we make will be on this planet for the rest of time. Plastic does not biodegrade quickly. It can only be transformed into something that is not plastic by burning it, which opens a whole host of environmental consequences.

Yes, most Seattleites collect their plastic bags for recycling. However, plastic bags cannot truly be recycled. Most of Seattle’s plastic bags end up shipped to China where they are burned. This is not recycling.

As for their claim that marine mammals are not being harmed by plastic bags, Nickerson and Rucker need to spend some time reading about the Pacific Gyre [“Giant vortex of floating trash swirling in Pacific,” CloseUp, August 4], where billions of pieces of plastic refuse are collecting into a mass estimated to be twice the size of Texas.

We have no idea what the repercussions of this garbage patch are going to be. It may not be killing the mammals yet, but it is already killing birds and turtles.

I wish we weren’t voting on a bag fee either. I wish plastic bags had just been banned.

— Kimberly Christensen, Seattle

On my bike ride, 11 bags are proof of plastic problem

Peter Nickerson and Randy Rucker must live in a parallel universe inhabited only by economists. Which Seattle do they stroll the streets and parks of in order to declare there isn’t a plastic-bag litter problem? Not the same Seattle in which I just completed a bike ride on the trail down to Golden Gardens Park — I counted 11 plastic bags along the way.

Maybe 11 isn’t sufficient to constitute the litter problem Rucker and Nickerson dismiss. One can argue the bag tax both ways, but please don’t tell me there isn’t any plastic-bag litter.

I invite them to come out to Ballard from Montana and help pick up the trash — since it doesn’t exist, it should be easy.

— Eric Lucas, Ballard

Basic economics backs up bag fee

In regard to the article, “Would city’s bag charge be fee or tax? Depends on which way you lean” [page one, August 4], an important point seems to be missing from the debate about whether to charge consumers for plastic bags: They are already charged!

However, the price is hidden, rolled into the cost of everything consumers buy at the store. Basic economic principles indicate that such hidden costs should be put out into the open so consumers are confronted with the costs in each transaction and can better adjust their purchasing behavior.

Additionally, basic economic principles indicate the price of a plastic bag should reflect any costs not covered in the purchase price of the bag — such as the cost to remove plastic bags from city streets.

Whether called a fee or a tax, I support Referendum 1 because it incorporates these principles.

— Mark Daniel, Seattle

Rove would be pleased at some liberals’ opposition to bag tax

How I wish I could have a beer with Karl Rove and talk to him about the great Seattle bag-fee debate. He must be happier than he’s been in nine months.

He has a whole new group of allies now — Jan Drago, Danny Westneat, the people at Central Area Motivation Program and all the other mush-minded liberals who are lining up to support the plastics industry.

It’s brilliant, really. Rove understands that, unlike the neocons, liberals have never been able to think beyond next week. You can pillage and poison the entire world as long as you don’t cause any minor inconvenience to one of their pet constituencies, like the poor.

Combine this with a few dittohead talking points, and you have a bright future for the corporate rape of the world.

Rove must be kicking himself for not having thought of this strategy himself.

— James Freudiger, Seattle

Ban telephone books, not grocery bags

Seattle should ban telephone books instead of grocery bags. When was the last time anyone used a phone book? And yet they pile up everywhere.

— Kris Sundberg, Mercer Island

Comments | More in Election, Environment, Local ballot measures, Seattle, Taxes

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