Bag fees, the Nickels economic stimulus plan

The Mayor shrewdly taps the chemical industry to save Seattle's economy and its media. Who knew he was that smart?
The Mayor shrewdly taps the chemical industry to save Seattle's economy and its media. Who knew he was that smart?

Some of you (even those of us outside of Seattle) may have heard about the city'ꀙs 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'ꀙs bag tax is actually brilliant. Allow me to explain:

Recent Seattle Times editions featured full page advertisements from the American Chemistry Council'ꀙs 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'ꀙs 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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