2021 Leg Session, Columnists, Featured, Gold Dome, Jon Caldara, Politics

Caldara: Progressive intolerance on display with plastics ban

Is there any part of our lives that the progressives under the Gold Dome don’t want to control, right down to how we carry our purchases home?

It’s the little bits of intolerance that help me understand their anti-liberty desires. Maybe because looking at their “small” acts of authoritarianism makes it easier to understand how they are so comfortable pushing the huge ones, like single-payer health care, price controls and banning energy.

It comes down to the fact that they are intolerant of individual choice. They hate that we all have different values, and we make choices based on those values.

Take smoking bans in private establishments. A gay bar is to be celebrated and rightfully defended. But if people want to freely associate at a bar over a beer, burger and cigarette, well that’s just too perverted for them. Ban it.

They need some type of intellectual cover for their institutionalized discrimination. They can’t just say what they really mean, “We know what’s best for you, and that’s for you to make the same decisions we do; we don’t smoke so neither will you.”

So, they come up with some cover — something like, “we’re doing it for the poor workers who have no choice but to work in that bar.” Like the 13th Amendment didn’t stop forced labor or prospective employees didn’t catch on to that they were applying to work in a bar with smoking.

It’s raw arrogance and using their governmental power to discriminate against marginalized people who don’t have power. They are treating people just like this country used to treat homosexuals, by outlawing their choices. And it should be seen for the hate it is.

For me it’s the tiny intolerance of people’s choice to use a plastic bag or straw that sets me off. I find it maddingly smug, discriminatory and dismissive.

The social pressure against plastic shopping bags is all about virtue signaling. Fine. Education and pressure away. That’s how free people get others to change minds. Bring your fabric shopping bag with the self-satisfied “we recycle” message on it to the store; it might change my mind.

But the legal mandate to take away your choice to use such a bag or straw is all about using raw political power to force others to virtue signal for the left’s cause.

Imagine if conservatives were in charge and passed a law that all homes had to fly American flags on official holidays. That is exactly what plastic bag bans, and taxes (now called fees to avoid a public vote), are.

House Bill 1162 is the crown jewel of this virtue signaling by gunpoint. This legislation prohibits stores and restaurants from providing plastic carry-out bags to customers. It bans restaurants from using foam containers to put your food in. It goes on to limit shopping bags to recycled paper and the store MUST charge a 10 cent (get ready for the magic word to avoid voter approval for a tax increase) fee for them.

Their intellectual cover for this intolerance? Saving the planet of course.

You might remember when environmentalists pushed for plastic shopping bags to save the trees that were used to make paper ones. But, as the motto of every social engineer goes — this time we’ve got it right.

But shopping bags make up an immeasurable fraction of a fraction of a fraction of plastic going into Colorado’s landfills, which safely entombs them. (Yep, no plastic straws from Colorado make their way into a sea turtle’s nose.) And those pushing this behavior modification bill know it.

Forget that the bags HB-1162 bans are 100% recyclable. Forget that this hits the businesses Governor Unemployment hurt the most with his lockdowns — restaurants and retailers. Forget that plastic bags played a role in fighting the pandemic, getting food and supplies safely to consumers. Forget that food prices are skyrocketing, and these extra taxes hurt the poor the most.

Remember, they know better than you. They know you shouldn’t re-use your plastic King Soopers bag to pick up your dog’s poop.

They know you should instead buy a package of new plastic dog-poop bags and take them home in the paper bag you had to pay 10 cents for.

HB-1162 is all about thought control so their next bit of coercion doesn’t seem as big.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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