In The Bag


Most people might not give a second thought to the recent decision by the Los Angeles City Council to ban non-reusable grocery bags. After all, LA — like most of the rest of California — exists so far outside the realm of human normalcy that it seems appropriate that its elected leaders would introduce a law that tests the bounds of credulity. It’s not as if the good public servants of that Gomorrah-by-the-Pacific (Sodom-by-the-Pacific being about 400 miles north) have anything more important on their plates. It’s also not as if they could competently handle anything more important if they did.

So, I wouldn’t blame anyone for remaining blissfully unaware that LA is moving to ban not only plastic grocery bags, but also to add a surcharge to and ultimately eliminate paper bags as well. But allow me to ring the alarm bell for a moment.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg diverted taxpayer dollars to a program designed to convince denizens of the Big Apple that soup is a serial killer in a can. The circus freaks of San Francisco tried to ban McDonald’s Happy Meals because Bay Area parents apparently can’t say no to their squalling tykes’ pleas for Hello Kitty figurines. Michelle Obama spends most of her time away from eating fatty, high-calorie food to nag the rest of us about the dangers of eating fatty, high-calorie food. (Don’t eat like the first lady or you’ll end up looking like — well — the first lady). Democrats have even endeavored to legislate the manner in which we turn on the lights. And now, LA is moving to ban a convenient method of transporting household items. This is precisely the sort of incrementalism at which liberals excel and of which the rest of us ought to be wary.

Some people might suggest that focusing on a bizarrely intrusive city ordinance in the lost colony of Southern California is a fool’s errand. I would counter that any time liberals focus their legislative intent on anything that seems insignificant, everyone ought to sit up in rapt attention. The Democrats are well aware that the little things make a world of difference.

President Barack Obama’s persistent assaults on Constitutional liberties deserve our scrutiny — mostly because Obama doesn’t particularly care about our Constitutional liberties. But when liberals begin leaning into us over our preferred method of grocery conveyance, room-illumination or even dining choices, then they’re not only infesting our homes and lives with roach-like familiarity, they’re kicking out the legs of our social table. Of course, they are liberals, so they’re kicking out those legs while starving in the dark because they forgot their reusable grocery bags, they don’t eat fast food and those mercury-filled light bulbs made the kids act funny.

Consider this: We conservatives fight the big battles every day — against Obamacare, the Stop Online Piracy Act and whatever Attorney General Eric Holder has planned for Border Patrol personnel and/or the Constitution this week. Meanwhile, Democrats send small cells to chip away at life’s smaller choices, worming their way inexorably into our decisions, our homes and our lives. Canned soup, light bulbs, grocery bags, cigarettes, blue laws, fuel-economy standards and automobiles are all elements of a free enterprise system that works exceptionally well when Democrats are kept from inflicting real harm. But Democrats are as likely to leave well enough alone as NBC is to report actual news.

The LA grocery bag ban seems stupid — mostly because it is. But it’s also an excellent example of liberalism’s ultimate goal: total, pervasive and permanent control over the people. If they can tell you which doctor you (probably won’t) get to see, which car to drive and even how to get the low-sodium soup from the store to your kitchen, then you not only don’t have to make personal choices, but you’re not allowed to do so.

And if the Democrats start making small decisions for you, imagine how much input they’re going to seek for the big ones.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.