Christian Britschgi at Reason.com recently published a column that poignantly illustrates yet another example of knee-jerk legislation based upon an embarrassing lack of research.
Sadly, politicians seem rarely embarrassed by their lack of research or knowledge when policies they boastfully push do nothing but make them feel good.
Dangerously, some feel good actions they take, such as gun buy-backs (which studies show do no prevent any gun-related suicides or homicides), create an even more dangerous community by causing people believe the streets are now safe.
The articulate (and likely unpronounceable) Britschgi shares the woeful tale of several California municipalities where ignorant or perhaps pandering politicians have outlawed the serving of plastic straws to restaurant patrons.
Sure, we’d all like to rid our planet of plastic litter, but is it truly wise to fine a waiter $1,000 and bill California taxpayers for six months room and board in one of their fine prisons because a server offered one plastic straw to a customer?
Ian Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California’s State Assembly, obviously believes so.
The saddest part is that Calderon’s initiative is based upon the idea that some 500,000,000 plastic straws are used by Americans every day, “many of them ending up in waterways and oceans.”
Britschgi reports: “The 500 million figure is often attributed to the National Park Service; it in turn got it from the recycling company Eco-Cycle. Eco-Cycle is unable to provide any data to back up this number, telling “Reason” that it was relying on the research of one Milo Cress. Cress - whose Be Straw Free Campaign is hosted on Eco-Cycle’s website - tells Reason that he arrived at the 500 million straws a day figure from phone surveys he conducted of straw manufacturers in 2011, when he was just 9 years old.”
So Democrats in California are solemnly considering throwing hard-working servers into jail based on phone calls made by a 9 year-old. Brilliant. It’s almost enough to cause California servers to vote Republican.
Remember, the divisive California plastic bag ban, decided by 53 percent of voters, affected only 7.4 percent of waste stream litter in 2010, according to Coastal Cleanup Day stats. That’s a huge emotional and financial effort to focus on just 7 percent of the problem.
Still, no animated penguin fills children with empathetic fear by toting an origami sea lion around its neck.
I live on the opposite coast, so if Californians want to ban plastic straws, so be it. But is it really necessary for a career politician whose dad was a career politician to threaten hardworking restaurant servers with jail based upon questionable research?
It parallels the country-wide movement among liberals to ban cash bail, claiming it “criminalizes property,” i.e. the money. They also like to claim it’s “buying one’s way out of jail.”
No. Bail is more like giving your driver’s license and/or cash to the cashier at the bowling lane when you rent shoes. It is a guarantee that you’re going to come back and return the shoes.
In Harris County, Texas, 21 percent of misdemeanor defendants simply failed to show up at court in the first few weeks of the ban on cash bail. About 3.8 percent of misdemeanor defendants fail to show when they have to post a cash bond.
In Newark, N.J., liberal Democratic Mayor Ras Baraka begged lawmakers to change their new “no cash bail” law when dangerous criminals began committing more crimes because they were free on their own recognizance.
Every New Jersey county has now reportedly incurred a couple million dollars more in costs chasing down criminals when that cost used to be incurred by bail bond companies.
It is way past time for real justice for poor Americans who lack the money for bail. Keeping a nonviolent defendant in jail for months... even weeks... is unconstitutional and morally despicable. But enacting a bail law that actually increases the number of crime victims is equally horrendous.
We voters need to stop reelecting lawmakers who fail to do (or read) research before slapping their name on a feel-good flop.
Rick Jensen is an annoying, award-winning Delaware talk show host and equally annoying national columnist. Email Rick@DBCMedia.com.