Minor Thoughts from me to you

Banned for Your Own Good

The city of Madison believes that if it limits your freedom it can truly make you safer. Next up on their agenda: plastic water bottles.

The city of Madison, enamored of bans on everything from smoking to phosphorus fertilizers, may be setting its regulatory sights on another target -- plastic.

In coming months, the city's Commission on the Environment is likely to begin discussing bans on the sale of bottled water at public events and the use of plastic grocery bags.

Jon Standridge, chairman of the commission, said members voted unanimously at the end of last year to place both items on upcoming agendas.

"Each year toward the end of the calendar year we sit down and talk about what people are interested in," Standridge said. "We ask if something is an environmental problem and if it is worth taking up. And if it is worth taking up, is there something we can do?"


Regardless of what happens, Dreckmann said, discussion of the issue is important because it will make people more aware.

"Whether or not we actually do something about it, it's just good to raise the consciousness of people, to have them think about the environmental consequences of drinking bottled water instead of just turning the tap."

If water bottles are really, truly a problem let's fix the problem. Calculate how much they add to the cost of the city's garbage costs. Count how many of them are sold in the city. Put a city tax on each water bottle sold, equal to the disposal cost. In other words, put a price on the damage that the water bottles are doing. Then, let consumers decide whether or not they want to pay that price.

Maybe a per-bottle trash tax isn't the best way to pass the cost along to the consumers. But it's a better way than simply banning the bottles and leaving consumers no choice at all. Why is the Madison city government so opposed to choice and freedom?