If the plastic straw ban wasn’t absurd on its own, imagine witnessing an officer patrol food courts for offenders.
That’s exactly what a Washington Post reporter did, following the footsteps of D.C. Department of Energy and Environment Inspector Zach Rybarczyk as he patrolled a Union Station food court in the search for businesses still using plastic straws.
According to the author, Rybarczyk checked every single food service section with warning letters in hand until he found a bent straw at a Chinese food joint. That was all he needed to hand out a warning to the cashier, explaining that by July, they may no longer carry the items. Otherwise, the business could be fined up to $800.
Could there be any bigger example of waste of taxpayer money than this “operation?”
In other locations in the country, such as Santa Barbara, California, the plastic straw ban is just as senseless.
Like the ban in Washington, D.C., Santa Barbara’s rules state that violators would be in jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000 per violation. So if an infractor is caught with five straws, he could end up having to shell out $5,000 to cover the fine, and spend over two years behind bars.
While city officials say they wouldn’t take enforce the law as written, that means nothing considering the rules have already been written and approved. What will stop the city to enforce it in full if a violator is caught with hundreds of the horrific plastic stuff?
To supporters of the plastic straw ban, using government violence to keep consumers from using straws is worth it. Their goal, they say, is to diminish the amount of plastic garbage floating in the ocean and using brute force to accomplish that is no biggie. However, they never seem to care about the disabled or parents of toddlers, whose lives are undoubtedly made much harder when they’re offered no straws while eating at a restaurant. To these environment advocates, violence in the pursuit of environmental purity is always moral, no matter how many people are being negatively impacted as a result.
Instead of using the power of the markets to encourage businesses to find environmentally sound solutions on their own that would also meet their customers’ needs, these advocates are willing to lock people in prison over a plastic straw.
Needless to say, there’s something absolutely off with a community that is willing to use violence for such a mundane and absolutely inconsequential goal. It’s almost as if political agendas were about nothing but to exert control over all of us.
The Straw Ban Is About Incentives
If government, both local and federal, did not have so much power over all of us, these types of campaigns and pushes for unreasonable laws would not be a problem. Unfortunately, governments offer a particularly negative incentive to all parties, as it stands as a potential foe or friend — and the most powerful one of all.
For businesses, this means that lobbying lawmakers and regulators pays off in the end as rules are passed that help protect industry leaders while punishing others out of the picture. And for political groups, pushing for more laws means restricting and fighting their political opponents using the force of the state.
Getting this incentive out of the picture would completely change the dynamics, as individuals would have to resort to the power of persuasion to change people’s minds, not the power of a loaded government gun.