Toronto City Hall has done it again. Not only is Rob Ford not allowed to have a subway, a casino, a weekend away from Pride, a ferris wheel, or a war on cars waged by bicycles a la Maximum Overdrive, now he can’t have plastic bags. City Council has banned them! And there weren’t even Red Bull-fuelled nights of citizens being boring about it like when Rob Ford tried to ban books! Ever try to carry a pen, a greeting card and a Snickers bar in a book? People will say you’re crazy.
Here’s the thing. You probably have an opinion about this thing that we’ll 100% get used to, and we will just continue our lives like Ron Sexsmith continues his without a Polaris Prize. Only now, he won’t have a Polaris Prize or a plastic bag. But you having an opinion isn’t enough: the newspapers have to imagine that you need to turn to them for an opinion. I imagine a middle-aged woman with two teenagers screaming into the phone, “WHAT AM I GOING TO PUT THEIR LUNCHABLES IN?”
Yeah, THIS scene is going to make sense in ten years. But how are we going to live without plastic bags? Why would they do this to us? How are dog owners going to pick up their dog’s shits? How am I going to hide that I bought an issue of Swank? What was city council thinking? Terence Corcoran hazards a guess:
In star-struck liberal green Los Angeles, it took a full-court press by environmental groups, major propaganda efforts, endorsement by the roll-over editorialists at the Los Angeles Times, and deployment of Hollywood stars, such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Peter Fonda, to work up the political steam needed to prompt L.A.’s city council to vote last month to ban plastic bags.
In starless Toronto, all it took was a bunch of dumb city councillors who suddenly decided — seemingly out of the blue — to stage a surprise vote.
“Ban the bags,” somebody said. “Good idea. Let’s vote!” Passed: 27 to 17.
First of all: starless Toronto? That’s a low blow, and hardly accurate. Mark McEwan of Top Chef Canada lives here! And man, does he have star power. If they ever decide to do a remake of Congo, he could be the talking gorilla and they’d save a BAJILLION DOLLARS on makeup. But secondly: “Ban the bags,” somebody said that? “Good idea. Let’s vote”? Yeah. I’m sure that’s exactly how it happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an imaginary scene presented to me less imagined than what Corcoran is proposing here.
Plastic bags are one of the great inventions of the 20th-century plastics explosion.
I don’t know about that.
Given half a chance, today’s bag ban will become tomorrow’s automobile ban.
Right. They ban your bags and then when you have to drive to the place just to carry it home because you haven’t done the arms part of that workout DVD. Your beer-gut is a bigger deal, right? You have to drive there. Right? And they ban the cars and then they’re bringing you your groceries and BAM! They’re feeding immobile Torontonians to stronger cities with plastic bags, like Whitby and Sarnia. You want that? DO YOU? After all, Corcoran calls plastic bags a “Marvel of usefulness”. And then he says this:
The Toronto bag ban, possibly illegal, is certainly harmful to the city, and to the environmental principles the politicians claim to uphold. And that’s before we even start talking about the grotesque infringement in the rights of citizens to make their own decisions.
So really, he’s just advocating anarchy. Why didn’t he just say so?
Oh, but the anger train – and I’m probably wrong to think there are better things to be angry about than plastic bags, especially when you don’t work in retail. And I don’t mean the bosses. I mean the poor schlubs who actually have to give a plastic bag to an indignant “Customer’s always right!” jagoff who wants a bag WITH HANDLES to carry the 35 cent pen they just bought and if you mention that bag fee they start yelling about where your boss is at to get you fired for being a bad employee – the anger train rolls on.
If you thought the Toronto Sun hated the 5-cent bag fee, you can LITERALLY bet your Bippy that they FREAKED THE FUCK OUT when the bags got banned. I heard Worthington fought an evil (eviller?) version of himself, like in Superman III. But nothing prepared me for them saying that the 5 cent bag fee was price–fixing:
According to critics, it’s a dictionary definition of price-fixing — when businesses collude to drive up prices and tamper with natural competition.
If you have trouble grasping that, imagine if city hall ordered every gas station in town to charge the same, inflated price per litre, too — in the name of environmentalism, natch. The Competition Bureau would stop those shenanigans.
So, by that logic, City Hall is multiple businesses who colluded with all the businesses who had plastic bags that were being given out for free – as is the right of a consumer, to a free plastic bag for driving away from the house – and because nobody was making enough money off the plastic bags, sucking the wallets of poor consumers dry prevailed, and collusion occurred to make people pay for bags that they should be free. I don’t think the 5 cent bag fee was the dictionary definition of price fixing. Shenanigans I would have a harder time proving. You’ve got me there, Mr. Levant. It may have been shenanigans.
But I call shenanigans on the following, Ezra. Can I call you Ez? I’m going to, anyway. Gang, Ez goes ahead and tries to tie the bags to deeper social issues. Smart people call this a fallacy of distraction. Regular people call it a red herring. Here’s those shenanigans:
Toronto as a city is broken. Taxes are high; traffic is jammed; there are gangland shootouts in downtown malls. There are a lot of things to fix.
But those are tough problems to solve.
Banning plastic bags is easy — as easy as a barroom Napoleon ranting and raving to his buddies about how he’s got all the world’s problems solved, from Mideast peace to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ losing streak, if only he was in charge.
City halls specialize in these pointless, showy barroom Napoleon moments.
FUCKING NAPOLEON!? Where are you even getting this from, Ez? That analogy makes a boatload of no sense. AN ENTIRE BOAT! What in the fuck is a “Barroom Napoleon”? I’ve heard of an Armchair General. I’ve heard of King Shit of Fuck Mountain. But Barroom Napoleon: that’s a new one. And I refuse to get used to hearing it while I’m getting used to not having plastic bags.