If you needed further proof that liberals won’t be happy until every aspect of American life is under the thumb of legislation, you can find it in the latest law coming out of California. State legislators passed a bill banning single-use plastic bags on Friday, and the bill is expected to be signed into law by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown by the end of this month. Brown even went on record at a televised debate on Thursday, saying, “I probably will sign it, yes.”

Brown is fairly invincible right now, politically speaking, as he knows where his bread is buttered. California is home of the liberals to begin with, and the state’s ever-increasing illegal immigrant population like the governor’s welcoming talk. The immigrants themselves may not be able to vote in November’s election, but their American family members certainly can. As of this weekend, Brown’s challenger, Republican Neel Kashkari, was trailing significantly behind in the polls. This is an election Brown likely has in the bag, and he’s in little danger of derailing the train with a plastic bag ban. Besides, the legislation isn’t all that unpopular. Why? Because people don’t understand that all this talk about how bad these bags are for the environment is just pure hogwash.

We’ve Been Down This Road

Unincorporated Los Angeles County has had a plastic bag ban in effect for several years already, and the economic effects have been immediate and dire. A survey done by Pamela Villarreal and Baruch Feigenbaum showed that the ban has produced a number of economic and environmental consequences. According to the survey, the ban on plastic bags has resulted in reduced employment, unfair competition practices, increased theft, increased use of produce bags, higher prices, less profit, and an overall downturn in economic activity. A statewide ban wouldn’t have the same effect on competition – consumers aren’t going to drive to Nevada to buy their groceries – but many of the other economic effects could be disastrous.

What’s worse is that it’s being done without any net gain to the environment. In fact, several studies have shown that a plastic bag ban can actually *harm* the environment. It takes a great deal more energy to produce cloth bags than their plastic counterparts, and plastic bags don’t generate as much greenhouse gas as the production of paper bags. According to some surveys, cloth bags would need to be used more than 100 times for the environmental advantage to pan out. Unfortunately, the average reuse statistic for cotton totes is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 times. You have a situation where the tree-huggers are actually pushing for legislation completely at odds with their own goals. It’s almost funny.