On the sunny side, there is one good thing emerging from the viral chaos

A lot of terrible leftist ideas are burning on the funeral pyre that is the Wuhan virus. During good times, America could sustain the weight of these bad ideas. We’re not having good times now (temporarily, I hope), and these bad ideas have become too expensive and too dangerous. In that way, we can view the virus as an unwished-for but beneficial purification ritual.

One of the things that made me happiest today was to learn that bag bans and plastic straw bans are failing in Democrat-run areas. Because I lived in California for so long, I’ve been on the receiving end of those virtue-signaling green laws, and I hated all of them with a passion.

According to Politico,

For a while, it looked like 2020 would be a turning point in the war against single-use plastics, with California and New York adopting new bans and federal legislation being introduced. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Single-use plastics became associated with safety from sickness, and industry lobbyists saw an opportunity to gain ground in the policy debate.


That momentum shattered in March, when the liberal bastion of San Francisco banned shoppers from using their own bags. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, followed with an executive order suspending a state ban on single-use bags. A ballot initiative to ban polystyrene and tax plastics probably will be punted to 2022. New York put enforcement of its bag ban on hold because of an industry lawsuit that was delayed by court closures linked to Covid-19. Chicago suspended collection of its plastic bag tax.


The next battle is playing out now, over whether restaurants should use disposable plates and cutlery as they reopen for dine-in service, POLITICO’s Debra Kahn reports from San Francisco. California says silverware and ceramic plates are fine to use as long as they are cleaned properly, but that message runs counter to federal guidance and what’s already happening in other states.

I’ve been irremediably hostile to the bag ban since Day One. In the old days, you could get paper or plastic for free, both of which I found useful around the house. However, under the bans, you couldn’t get plastic at all and, if you were willing, you had to pay a price (i.e., a tax) for a paper bag.

The reusable bags we were forced to use if we didn’t want to pay the tax made us look like a community of homeless people, carrying our worldly goods in a hodge-podge of packages. I resented that.

Worse, the bags were dangerous disease vectors (emphasis mine):

Recently, many jurisdictions have implemented bans or imposed taxes upon plastic grocery bags on environmental grounds. San Francisco County was the first major US jurisdiction to enact such a regulation, implementing a ban in 2007. There is evidence, however, that reusable grocery bags, a common substitute for plastic bags, contain potentially harmful bacteria. We examine emergency room admissions related to these bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that ER visits spiked when the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increase by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.

Ironically, the only way to diminish the disease risk was to wash the reusable bags after every use, a decidedly “un-green” thing to do, given the energy and water resources required for washing bags. Add that to the materials and energy used to create that overabundance of green bags and, as is always the case, a leftist policy was inconvenient, expensive, counterproductive, and potentially dangerous. The bag bans also didn’t do much to affect ocean pollution because plastic in the oceans comes primarily from Asia (with China again taking the lead in a destructive practice).

Its not only plastic bags biting the dust. Devin Nunes reports that plastic straws are back at Los Angeles airport. The plastic straw bans were among the silliest things to do because the impetus came from a nine-year-old’s suspect guesswork on a school project. The bans sent people back to the bad old days of dissolving paper straws. The whole thing was especially bad for disabled people who cannot handle regular cups or those dissolving straws.

I’m not saying that the horrific disruption, economic disaster, and ruined lives flowing from the leftist response to the Wuhan virus will have been worth it just to see normalcy returned to plastic bags, straws, and single-use bottles. I am, after all, neither stupid nor cruel. Nevertheless, if you’re trying to find a sunny side in this mess, seeing a green initiative face reality and die is certainly a day-brightener.