Steven Hayward at Power Line posted an article today about the unintended consequences in cities and counties that have banned plastic bags in supermarkets. It seems that the use of cloth bags has caused some unintended problems.
The article quotes U. of Penn. Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper 13-2:
San Francisco County was the first major US jurisdiction to enact such a regulation, implementing a ban in 2007. There is evidence, however, that reusable grocery bags, a common substitute for plastic bags, contain potentially harmful bacteria. We examine emergency room admissions related to these bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that ER visits spiked when the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increase by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.
The article also quotes an article at Bloomberg.com:
Klick and Wright estimate that the San Francisco ban results in a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses, or 5.5 more of them each year. They then run through a cost-benefit analysis employing the same estimate of the value of a human life that the Environmental Protection Agency uses when evaluating regulations that are supposed to save lives. They conclude that the anti-plastic-bag policies can’t pass the test — and that’s before counting the higher health-care costs they generate.
Back to the drawing board…
A website called Politicker.com posted a story about New York Mayor Bloomberg’s new initiative to limit supplies of prescription painkillers in the city’s emergency rooms. The idea of the initiative is to fight what the Mayor calls ‘a growing addiction problem in the region.’ On one level this makes sense–drug addiction is a growing problem, but beyond that, why are the Mayor and the City Council practicing medicine?
Having recently undergone some minor surgery, I understand that doctors and hospitals like to ‘manage’ the pain of their patients. That is very nice, but I really think we have become a nation of wimps. The day or two after surgery is generally tough, but to give a patient a two week supply of pain killers is questionable at best.
The article reports:
Mr. Bloomberg also argued the number of pain pills currently being prescribed had even contributed to an uptick in violent crimes outside of pharmacies from robbers looking to steal the drugs.
“You see there’s a lot more hold-ups of pharmacies, people getting held up as they walk out of pharmacies,” he explained. “What are they all about? They’re not trying to steal your shaving cream or toothpaste at the point of a gun. They want these drugs.”
This reminds me of the gun control argument–a government official is going to control the behavior of law-abiding citizens in order to change the behavior of those who choose not to follow the law. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?