Call it what it is: Bag ‘fee’ is really a fine

The City Council has made a mistake in naming the bag fee. A fee is something we pay by choice to conduct an activity of our choosing. For example, entry to a national park, fishing license or club membership.

Being forced to pay a fee makes it a fine, a penalty for an action someone else does not want you to do. For example, speeding, littering or property damage can result in fines.

Generally, penalties are imposed through a law, passed by elected officials and enforced by the police. However, three members of the City Council know there is no way to pass a law against plastic bags that would be enforceable or constitutional. So they have to call it a fee. And without police to enforce the penalty, they have to figure out another way.

Their solution: bribe the stores. By offering the stores a cut of the action, they take away their biggest opposition and hire enforcers. The store owners are happy because they have a new revenue stream and the City Council is happy because it has a new revenue stream. And the people are just thankful they have such benevolent leaders.

And what are the benevolent leaders to do with the money the people give them? They will use it to “educate” us about the evils of plastic bags. I don’t know about anyone else, but I, for one, feel blessed that these council people are available to tell me how to live my life and spend my money. Without their guidance, I might have spent my money on something silly like food, gas, a house payment or a charity.

If this sarcasm did not get through, let me be a bit more direct. Taking away your choice on bags is not the final event. Self-important, arrogant bullies will always have something else they don’t like about the way you live. Next, it will be the size of your soda or what vehicle you can drive into “their” city. But fear not, they will always leave you the choice to pay a fee.

Leroy L. Stevens


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