Plastic bag fee is social engineering run amok

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Unless Gov. Andrew Cuomo decides not to sign the plastic bag bill, New Yorkers will again feel the hands of city government reaching into their pockets and taking more of your hard-earned money. The disciples of social engineering and behavior modification in the City Council last year passed a 5-cent fee on each plastic bag used and twice that if you double bag your groceries.

Passage of the misnamed “plastic” bag fee since it also includes paper bags was approved by the City Council and signed by the mayor last year and is set to become law next week, adding hundreds of dollars to the family’s annual shopping bill. All done in the name of the “environment,” a pretext to justify imposing new taxes and fees on already tapped-out New Yorkers. This bill will surely shake out whatever loose change remains in your pocket after the speed cameras and red light cameras have gotten you.

It’s just the latest assault on the wallets of everyday New Yorkers and truth be told, the plastic bag fee also applies to non-polluting, bio-degradable paper bags, making it obvious that the bill is more about social engineering than reducing pollution.

Using the environment as an excuse to pluck every-last dollar out of your pockets and squeeze the family budget is deceptive and unfair. The City Council must stop using the public as guinea pigs in their social engineering experiments.

The arrogance of the “progressive” leaning City Council is stunning, especially when juxtaposing their rhetoric about affordability with their actions.

Actions that ignore the middle-class while engendering a new class warfare. Food stamp card users and others on similar entitlement programs are exempt from the bag fee and may use as many bags as they wish -- cost-free, while taxpayers who pay for those entitlements are penalized for each plastic or paper bag they use.

Two individuals on the same grocery line: one receives unlimited free bags while the other must pay. Contrary to the City Council’s assertion that this bill has little financial impact on shoppers, their action exempting food stamp users belies their hollow rhetoric. Supporters may believe this law is “eco-friendly,” but it is eco-nomically unfriendly.

Eastern Queens Council members Donovan Richards, Daneek Miller, Peter Koo and Paul Vallone could have made a huge difference in the final outcome had they voted to oppose the bag tax bill.

Instead, these “champions of the poor” have all but ignored the middle-class as they chose to impose this cost burden on seniors and working class families of their district. Their constituents, many on fixed incomes, can thank them for adding 10 cents to the cost of water and every other heavy item requiring a double bag.

These families struggle daily to pay rent and make ends meet; the last thing they need is to pay for something that used to be free at the local grocery counter.

Bucking the trend was Queens Council member Barry Grodenchik, who called it “one of the most regressive pieces of legislation to ever come before this council.”

He knows that many folks in transit-starved eastern Queens drive to the supermarket and load up grocery bags into their cars. It’s simply impractical for them to carry enough reusable bags.

Most folks resourcefully reuse grocery store bags and keep them stashed in plastic bag receptacles until they’re needed again -- as wastebasket liners, trash bags or for dog pick-up.

They are not “single-use bags,” as proponents of the bill claim. Pushing individuals to use reusable bags creates another type of environmental hazard. These reusable bags are often petroleum- or lead-based and require regular cleaning to eliminate food-borne toxins. Are we simply trading one set of problems for another?

The ideological crusade to micromanage our behavior is another example of the city’s overreach and misplaced priorities. Our city is already the heaviest taxed in the nation and nickel and diming its residents doesn’t help.

Instead of working overtime to create regulatory petty annoyances in our daily lives, their time would be better spent restraining a bloated budget and repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

Our only hope is that the state Assembly acts this week to pass legislation nullifying the city’s action as the state Senate did a few weeks ago. Until then, it seems as if the fix is in the bag.

Bob Friedrich is President of Glen Oaks Village, a Civic Leader and former candidate for the NYC Council

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Wilson from Queens says:
The truth of the matter is that the 5cent fee is already figured into retail merchandise which means that ny consumers must pay twice under Cuomo's demands.. The so-called 'better environment' issue is no more than a YUGE lie since it's a well-known fact that the nyc economy has been rapidly dwindling under grossly poor leadership, high taxes, and unrealistic regs. Not a wonder that numerous small biz have closed up and relocated to more small business-friendly cities and states. Politicians demand much but give back very little, if anything, to the citizenry.
Feb. 10, 2017, 5:56 am
Ann from Bellerose says:
If you live in Glen Oaks, you will get fined for putting plastic bags in the dumpster. $100 right there. So what about that Bob? You are an idiot.
Feb. 10, 2017, 10:14 am
Susan from Glen Oaks says:
Bob found Times Ledger a great place to show-off his use of big words. He lost the city council election as always cause Glen Oaks people can't stand him.
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:11 pm
Deena from Bellerose says:
Hey Bob, could you write about your bullying and dictatorship in Glen Oaks Village? Why you won't let anyone to campaign for the president when you threaten anyone getting in your way?
Feb. 10, 2017, 9:45 pm
Justin from Glen Oaks says:
Bob sued Governor Cuomo using shareholder's money and lost over $500,000. He should disclose the details.
Feb. 11, 2017, 1:07 pm
Copyright from Queens says:
OK, do Times Ledger check for plagiarism?
This article written by Bob is copied from another one. I see the resemblance.
Feb. 11, 2017, 5:50 pm
Chicklet from Douglaston says:
This plastic bag tax manages to hurt nearly every group in the city.

Re-use the bags and spread bacteria and germs, wash them and you'll waste more energy than making the bag to begin with.

Dog poop- now you've got to buy more bags, got a lunch to pack, yes- buy a bag for that too!

At least we live close to Nassau and can easily drive to King Kullen, the City Council could care less if they hurt local businesses. In the end, it's all about power, taking money out of the citizens pockets and giving it to people the politicians favor, or people who pay for their campaigns.

Mr. Friedrich is right, rarely does such a bad bill come along that nearly everyone except some Councilmen support it. Let's see what our glorious Governor does, he used to live in Queens!
Feb. 12, 2017, 9:34 pm
GY from Flushing says:
In Europe they take a different approach: markets do not provide bags, therefore shoppers carry their own reusable bags. Win-win and no taxes or fees or fines needed.
When will we learn ?
Feb. 12, 2017, 10:30 pm
Poor Bob from Queens says:
Can't never win an election so poor poor poor Bob wants to explain his mission. Well when you are a loser, you have all the time in the world to write to get attention. Leave it to the real politicians, loser Bob and go find another hobby.
Feb. 12, 2017, 10:56 pm
Tick in the city from Manhattan says:
Despite comments about Bob, what all those opposed to the plastic bag fee are missing, or refuse to acknowledge, is that this is supposed to recondition wasteful consumers into bringing and carrying with them reusable bags. Yes you can reuse plastic bags but we need to migrate to something less destructive than a single use bag. Wake up and stop being so self centered and look at the bigger picture. Or better yet near and far--look at the island of plastic in the middle of the ocean killing our sea life and getting into our food stream. Or if you can't see past your nose look out your window at the plastic bag stuck in the tree in your back yard.
Feb. 13, 2017, 10:14 am
Bob who from Queens says:
Who is Bob? Never heard of him. Isn't Glen Oaks Village a very dangerous place to live.
Feb. 13, 2017, 11:29 am
Tyrone from Queens says:
OK this was proposed 10 years ago and its ongoing discussion. Where has Bob been? To Mars?
The amount of discussion doesn't add up unless a resolution comes in place with votes. Until then, its all talks.
Feb. 14, 2017, 1:35 am
Tom from Belllerose says:
Bob is a greedy arrogant dictator. What exactly is he trying to prove by terrorizing people in Glen Oaks?
Feb. 15, 2017, 11:16 am
Rachel from Queens says:
Doesn't Bob add few into his pockets from here and there while at the Co-op? Everyone knows he siphons money for his personal use.
Feb. 16, 2017, 2:10 am

Comments closed.


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