Seattle Plastic Bag Referendum Tests “Tax” Rhetoric

Photo by ailatan on, (cc) some rights reserved. On August 18, Seattle voters will go to the polls to decide whether or not to approve a 20-cent fee on plastic and paper bags, encouraging shoppers to use re-usable bags instead.

Referendum opponents, backed by the American Chemistry Council, have cunningly labeled the fee a “tax.” Moreover, they assert the 20-cent-per-bag charge will disproportionately hurt low-income people.

This is more than clever rhetoric in a local debate. It’s a test that will continue to be replayed many times over the coming years between “higher taxes” and social/environmental issues.

In today’s battered economy, the biggest “green” concern that voters have may be how much money they have in their wallets.