Some of you (even those of us outside of Seattle) may have heard about the city’s plan for a grocery bag tax. In an effort to curb global warming, Seattle plans on taxing every plastic or paper bag used in a grocery or drug store $0.20. Supporters say it will eliminate waste and help defeat global warming. Opponents say it will hurt the poor and create an unnecessary bureaucracy, and they successfully delayed the implementation until a ballot initiative this August.
At first, I thought the whole thing was dumb: a waste of money to get people to do stuff most of Seattle makes an effort to do anyway. But I have changed my mind. The Mayor’s bag tax is actually brilliant. Allow me to explain:
Recent Seattle Times editions featured full page advertisements from the American Chemistry Council’s effort to stop the bag tax. In addition, the group has run a high profile ad campaign on local Web sites and radio. It makes common sense arguments about the extra city employees this will add and the possible exemptions for Wal-mart and other big box stores.
When Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proposed this, he had to know that it would come to a ballot initiative. He had to know the plastic bag industry would fund a major advertisement campaign. He knew that this would benefit Seattle’s media companies to the tune of $1.4 million and help support a struggling industry in a time of economic distress. Assuming salaries of $50,000 and some additional jobs impacted by the additional economic activity, the Mayor single handedly saved or created 30-40 jobs by proposing this tax. Nor can this hurt the Mayor's chances in getting editorial endorsements.
I had no idea he was this smart, and I thank him for stimulating the economy and rescuing our media at this difficult time. What proposals will Nickels propose next year to stimulate the economy again?
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