To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Why Doesn't Marc Fisher Mind His Own Business?

"Why doesn't D.C. have a bottle bill?" asks the Washington Post's Marc Fisher. He then gives an excellent - and short - history of the movement to make small businesses collect deposits on cans and bottles to force people to recycle.

The 1987 D.C. campaign on the bottle bill was one of the most fascinating and revealing I've ever covered. At the start of the campaign, polls showed 70 percent support in the city for putting deposits on bottles. But the campaign split the city by race, and in the final tally, whites supported the bill overwhelmingly and blacks opposed it equally powerfully....The anti-bottle bill appeal was part economic--a deposit raises prices, which inner-city blacks could least afford--but was also cleverly and cynically racial--the idea was that the bottle bill somehow was a sign of The Plan, the long-feared white effort to take back control of the District.

Fisher wonders, "would a bottle bill pass today, with a considerably changed racial dynamic and population in the city?" He doesn't venture to guess, but I would say it would most likely pass. As would almost any law mandating anything.

I was subjected to such a law in Michigan, where it was a lot like forced savings. I would save my beer cans and turn them in when I was broke to get some money for beer. Homeless people would collect cans to get money for beer as well, reducing litter and getting people drunker. It was win win. Except, of course, for the business owners forced to collect the tax - oops, I mean deposit - and all those stinky cans.

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