Government Has No Business Banning Plastic Bags
By David Holcberg (San Francisco Examiner, April 4; The Economist, April 11, 2007)
San Francisco's ban on plastic grocery bags is an outrageous abuse of government power.
The government has no right to force supermarkets and stores to stop using plastic bags. It is the prerogative of these businesses to decide what type of bags, if any, to offer their customers. If environmentalists and lawmakers don't like plastic bags, they are free to not use them and to try to persuade others to do likewise. They have no right, however, to impose their preferences on the rest of us.
The environmentalists' claim that plastic bags should be banned because they litter the streets and choke marine life is absurd. People, not plastic bags, are responsible for littering, and we already have laws against littering. As to the alleged harm plastic bags do to marine life, even if true it would not justify curtailing human freedom. No human activity "harms" marine life more than fishing does--yet we respect and protect the rights of fishermen to earn their livelihoods. In any conflict between protecting animal life or protecting the freedom that is necessary for human life, the only moral choice is siding with humanity.