The Plastic Straw Ban: Enforced With Violence, by Ryan McMaken

You don’t have anything approaching wise or just governance when you can do jail time and pay hefty fines for using a plastic straw. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

The latest trend in banning plastic stuff is the nationwide trend toward eliminating plastic straws from restaurants. A commonly-given justification for the ban is the fact that there’s a lot of plastic garbage floating around in the ocean. Of course, this rationale seems a bit odd for some locations. In Fort Collins, Colorado, for example — which is about a thousand miles from any ocean — locals feel the need to “do their part” by convincing local restaurateurs to ban the offending objects.

One can already see that this will be inconvenient for toddlers and their parents, and for the physically disabled, but with private firms choosing whether or not to use straws, it’s not really an issue that requires a strong opinion.

On the other hand, when it comes to government-sponsored bans on straws, things are considerably different.

This is because at the heart of every government law, rule, and regulation is the fact that violence must ultimately be employed to enforce those laws. Indeed, Santa Barbara, California has announced a new ban on plastic straws that brings sizable punishments, if violated:

Violating Santa Barbara’s plastic straw ban could land you in jail for up to 6 months and a fine up to $1,000 per violation.

However, the City says it won’t actually punish anyone that severely if they break the rule.

And how do we know the state won’t punish people accordingly? Well, we have nothing but the promise of its spokesperson. After all,

municipal code does state a violation could land the provider in jail for up to 6 months and lead to a fine up to $1,000; however, there are no plans to actually enforce that penalty. Instead, the city will do education and outreach in order to get providers to comply.

In other words, the actual statute makes it clear that any violators are subject to large fines and jail time for each infraction. That means passing out 5 straws could lead to years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

To continue reading: The Plastic Straw Ban: Enforced With Violence

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