I’ve written in the past about the varied meanings and implications for bags. I mused that being “half in the bag” (i.e., drunk as a skunk) has some powerfully negative implications while having something “in the bag” implies success. But, bags took on a whole new meaning in my county at the beginning of this year. Our local government, having absolutely nothing important to focus on, imposed a tax of 5 cents on every bag a retailer uses to send you off with your groceries, new shoes, or carry out Chinese. From the moment this tax went into effect, I’ve been writing a scathing blog in my head. I planned to lambast the County Council for yet another unnecessary intrusion of government into our lives. I planned to point out all the unintended consequences of this inane law, like the fact that the local non-profit food bank that uses bags to give poor people food may have to pay taxes to the county government in order to provide this food and the grocery chain that supplies the food bank with food and bags may have to pay a tax as well. Or, the fact that I now have to pick up my dog’s poop with my bare hands since I have no plastic grocery bags in the pantry.
But, before I could get around to putting this all down into bits and bytes (originally, I wrote “…putting this all down on paper…..”, but that sounds so 20th Century), I did a little math, something my readers know I love to do. And, eureka, I came to a very different conclusion. I decided to calculate what this new tax might cost me on an annual basis. Here’s a very quick back of the envelope:
- 10 bags of groceries, once a week for a year = 520 bags
- 3 carry out meals per week (yeah, we don’t cook so much), 2 bags per meal = 312 bags
- Other shopping (total guesswork) = 100 bags
- Other (even more guesswork, but I’m trying to be conservative) = 100 bags
GRAND TOTAL: 1,032 bags per year @ 5 cents per bag
==> Drum roll, please………$51.60 in bag taxes per year
Since these were all estimates, let’s just round off to 1,000 bags and $50 a year, if I opt to take a bag from the vendor each time vs. bringing my own reusable bag. This is where the light bulb went off and I decided to write a thank you note to the County Council instead of a scathing letter. Before this tax was levied I got my bags for free, which was nice, but it left me with the daily challenge of finding ways to annoy the environmentalists. Now, every time I go to a store I can spend 5 cents and annoy an environmentalist. That’s $50 a year to annoy the tree huggers. I would have paid $500. Thanks County Council. I owe you.