Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pest-o-crats Reduced To Fighting Plastic Bags

So now we need a tax on plastic grocery bags? Fresh from having had their fannies handed to them in the Wal-Mart wars, Pullman’s cadre of professional pests have chosen their next futile crusade. They now argue that the town they desire to tyrannize would find itself improved by a new tax. These Pest-o-crats are following their masters in Seattle and San Francisco as they seek to enact a tax on shopping bags. I am not kidding.

The problem, as the Pest-o-crats see it, is that disposable plastic shopping bags are so inexpensive that consumers dispose of them. Once consumers come home with their purchases, they either discard that bag or save it to line their restroom garbage cans. And that is a market condition that Pest-o-crats would like to alter. If consumers were forced to pay 20 cents for each bag, then the great unwashed would choose to lug around those reusable fabric shopping bags. I have no doubt that National Public Radio looks forward to the day when they can reward contributors with NPR embossed reusable grocery bags.

Where would Pullman’s self-anointed elite get such an idea? If you think that it’s original, then you don’t know Pullman’s Pest-o-crats. The inspiration for all such thoughts arise from the most enlightened cities on Earth, Seattle and San Francisco. The Pest-o-crats are simply drones of the great collectives. Because Seattle and San Francisco are the centers of the cultural universe that has given us so much in the past, like grunge rock, drugs, AIDS, Nancy Pelosi and Patty Murray, it makes sense to the Pest-o-crats that the rest of us should bow before the great wisdom that animates these cities. We rubes, who inhabit the east side of the state, have demonstrated that we lack the sophistication needed to make the proper decisions and so we require west side wisdom.

Okay, I will allow that Seattle’s attempts to exert hegemony over Pullman is slightly less crude than Russia’s interference in the Georgian Republic, but the west side’s desire to extinguish cultural diversity throughout Washington is no less determined than Vladimir Putin’s. Seattle already selected our governor and elects our US senators. Seattle raises taxes on the entire state and decides how little of that is permitted to trickle over the Cascades to the east side. For that matter, west of the Cascades, east side is defined as the strip of land that lies between Lake Washington and the Cascades. I’m really not sure what term Seatllistas use to describe the fur-wearing barbarians who inhabit this side of the state.

Like all great imperial powers, Seattle benefits from the advantage of fifth columnists, or native traitors. In Pullman, the fifth columnists are composed of a cadre of moon barking professional pests who move from cause to cause in their quest to impose their vision upon those of us who simply wish the freedom to live our lives as we see fit. And now that they failed to dictate their retail shopping preferences, they’ve moved on to plastic bags.

Chuck Pezeshki, the philosophical guiding light of the Pest-o-crats, demonizes disposable plastic bags as “wind borne litter” and “hazards to wildlife.”

Judging by the waistlines of Pullman’s Pest-o-crats, it is quite probable that I spend a great deal more time out of doors than any of the Pest-o-crats and I’ve never seen a wild animal harmed by a plastic bag. As a volunteer who picks up trash along highway 195 as part the Adopt-a-Highway program, I don’t really encounter as many bags as Pezeshki’s logic suggests should be found out there. Beer cans outnumber plastic bags by a couple of orders of magnitude. The complaints against plastic bags are like global warming, all theory without data.

It’s worth noting that Pezeshki identifies his anti-bag crusaders as consisting “mostly of members of the WSU community.” In my own experience, such is the composition of most such movements because tenured university faculty are free from the burdens of productivity that hobble the rest of the world and that leaves them plenty of free time that they can devote to telling the rest of us how to live.

If we let them get away with this, the Pest-o-crats certainly have other Seattle ideas waiting for us. For example the Emerald City’s mayor would now like to close off much of downtown to automobile traffic on Sundays. This would make room for artists to decorate the streets with chalk drawings. Really!

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