Friday, April 17, 2009

Greens don't get the idea of choice

Foodstuffs' decision to charge for plastic bags at its New World, Four Square and South Island Pak 'n' Save is being hailed by the Greens.

It is, of course, a clever move to boost the firm's environmental credentials, whilst making a comfortable profit on bags that cost a fraction of that to buy (even if some money is donated to "environmental causes"). It's been widely done in the UK, and customers seem to have started taking their own bags, while supermarkets can charge for a marginal cost input.

However, the Greens don't get it. Foodstuffs' is doing this as a commercial decision, it believes its customers will pay, and use less bags as a result - and it will be a winner, and presumably there will be less plastic bags used (which is the goal of the Greens, although the environmental impact is negligible).

It is done by free will, choice, voluntary agreement, option, conscious decision.

So what do the Greens say?

Forget choice, you can stick that up where a bag isn't comfortable, the Greens don't just encourage others to do the same. They don't even encourage the public to use Foodstuffs' supermarkets and bring their own bags.


Green Co-Leader Russel Norman says "What we need now is for the Government to back up Foodstuffs' good initiative by introducing mandatory product stewardship for plastic bags".

So we need the "government" to force people to do it, even though it has been proven that you can convince people to do it. Russel gets out the truncheon of state force. State violence needed when people do something by choice.

WHY don't they get it?

Russel says "we don't want the good guys to be disadvantaged by other companies freeloading or refusing to do something about their bags." What? HOW is Foodstuffs disadvantaged when it is making money out of deterring what you don't like? If you WANT it to do well, go SHOP there, encourage people to shop there.

Then he contradicts himself again "They are also easy to do something about, and the public is overwhelmingly behind bold moves to reduce plastic bag use. Foodstuffs' move is an important recognition of this."

So why do you need to force people if they want to reduce plastic bag use? Foodstuffs will be successful, and others will follow.

Or maybe, just maybe you don't believe what you say. Maybe you think most people don't care, will want free plastic bags, and it will fail - which is why you want to force them.

In which case be honest - you want plastic bags taxed or banned regardless of what people think, because the Greens are wedded to statism, to authoritarian bullying - to nanny state regulating, taxing and pushing people around to fit your world view.

According to the Greens, if people really want something, you have to force them to do it.

The party of non violence? Ha!


workingman said...


Pak n Sav in the Wellington region have charged for plastic bags for us long as I have been going to them. I do not notice the shops being empty with being being afraid to go there due to the cost of the bags.

What I do notice is a lot of people bring their own bags, and others using the empty card board boxes that other supermarkets just seem to throw away.


Libertyscott said...

Workingman, that's all good stuff, Pak n Sav attracts customers through price, who are prepared to pay for bags or use their own. It's the market at work, and so let it be.