Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aqua Buddha Teaches the Central Planners of the People's Republic of San Francisco

Rand Paul used to be a devout follower of the great rain god, Aqua Buddha. This was before he started listening to Knockin' On Heaven's Door, while traveling in a bus with evangelicals in the 51st state. 

Despite the loss of Rand as a follower, the great rain god continues to teach great lessons.

The People's Republic of San Francisco recently banned plastic bags, now retailers are only allowed to provide paper bags. The central planners promoted it as a way to "save the environment." That in itself is a nutty idea, but it requires two or three steps of logic to refute, so the artsy commies of SF would never be able to follow the logic.

Suffice to say, as Hayek warned:
[...] when we decide each issue solely on what appears to be its individual merits, we always overestimate the advantages of central direction [p31]
And thus came the great rain god, Aqua Buddha, to prove the point. It's been a dry winter in San Francisco, but yesterday some rain was delivered and San Francisco's central planners saw their plan literally ripped apart, as shoppers in the predominately walking city saw some bags ripped open as the rain caused the paper bags to get wet, weaken and fall apart. It happened to a clerk at a CVS store I was just in. While explaining to her that the paper bag regulation was nutty economics and an attack on our freedoms, she nodded her head and sheepishly told me that yesterday while waiting for a bus, her grocery bag got wet and all her groceries landed on the ground, broken apart, as she attempted to get on the bus.

And so, individuals will now have to figure out a workaround in San Francisco when it rains. It is very unlikely the city's central planners will reverse the paper bag order. Once in place, it is rare for regulations to be removed. All governments, generally, just add new regulations on top.


  1. If you didn't get the Aqua Buddha reference, brace yourself for laughter:

  2. The Aqua Buddha is pleased by the oblation of eggs cracked upon the pavement and groceries rolling into the gutter. Sweeter still are the tears of rage and frustration of the shoppers. These are the dainties that fill his mighty belly. To bring back plastic bags would displease the Aqua Buddha. Spill subcreatures! Dribble, puny humans!

  3. Tell me about it. These inane bans on plastic bags and mandatory fees on paper bags (ranging from 5 to 25 cents depending on the city) are spreading like wildfire throughout California. So far they are mostly confined to "progressive" big cities (such as San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles), some of their suburbs which feel pressured to participate, and expensive touristy towns (think Santa Monica, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and potentially South Lake Tahoe) that already have heavy-handed laws when it comes to other things (for example, San Luis Obispo has an ordinance forbidding the construction of drive-through restaurants, and I believe both Santa Monica and San Luis Obispo have relatively restrictive ordinances on smoking). These laws have been implemented to strongly encourage people to shop with reusable bags. While I don't have a problem bringing my own bags to the grocery store, being effectively forced to do so via social engineering ordinances really angers me. I've been trying to personally boycott cities that have these ordinances, but unfortunately I'm starting to run out of places to shop as more and more cities adopt these social engineering ordinances.

    Local governments across the country have always engaged in anti-liberty ordinances. But now local governments are becoming emboldened in passing nanny state, soft-authoritarian policies, such as mandatory charges on bags and bans on certain sizes of soda. These trends have to be stopped before local governments become even more brazen in controlling the people in their jurisdictions.

  4. My first visit to SF was this week. The day we left (yesterday) it was raining, and I had to spend and extra $.30 for "double bagging" and even then, one of them broke after the exposure to the rain.


    Dale Firz

  5. They appear to be causing illness as well:

  6. George Carlin On The Environment:
    "Why are we here? Plastic."

    Speaking of CVS, I haven't tried this yet, but via the BitInstant service, you can use CVS and a number of other places to convert your cash to (or send) bitcoins:

  7. The explosion in use of plastic bags is a terrible scourge for the ecosystem. Other ubiquitous plastic is also destructive. Further there are created severe health consequences for humans.

    To frame the argument as a sort of liberty right is backwards in my view. The right to what, to not be able to get a decent non-plastic product? To damage the ecosystem and our health for eventually a very long time?

    I think the argument should be framed from the top, and not the bottom. Liberty and free-market capitalism have not given us the plastic bags. Crony capitalism has.

    1. Have you ever researched the affects of plastic bags vs paper bags in landfills? Plastic is inert. The paper bag and its glue break down into poison. It is actually waste disposal socialism that is the problem. If plastic bags were truly worse for the environment and waste disposal allowed the pricing mechanism to work, it would cost more to use plastic bags to cover the additional cost of disposal. (H/T Dr Walter Block)

  8. Here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, over in the PR of Brookline, the town that continually reelected Barney Frank to Congress, they also have just voted to ban plastic bags (and styrofoam cups as well), which goes into effect later in the year.

    People are suggesting that shoppers use those reusable bags every time they get groceries. However, when you place food products into bags, they tend to leave bacteria behind. Reusing bags with bacteria is bound to cause new problems, perhaps even more serious than whatever problems the plastic bags could have caused. Duh.

    And the styrofoam cups ban will be well received by Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's and all their customers (or former customers) in Brookline, I'm sure.

    And the town of Concord has banned small-sized water bottles.

    I think I am now ready to finally move out of Massachusetts. Is there anywhere in the U.S. that still has some freedom - and some sanity - left?

  9. Maybe if you spill enough groceries you will spring for a $1.00 reusable bag.

  10. You and the other folks using paper bags are completely missing the point. They don't want you to be using THOSE, either. The intent of these bans are to get you to use those stupid re-usable cloth bags. Paper bag bans will also be coming a few years down the pike. Book it.