Limit Government, Not Consumer Choices

By Erin Mae Shiffler

We live in a country founded on freedom and limited government. We choose where we live, what we do for a living, and what products we buy. If we aren’t satisfied with our decisions, we choose differently next time. Consumer choices are an important market signal that directs the allocation of resources more efficiently in our economy. It is not the proper role of government to micromanage those choices in order to enforce a “politically correct” lifestyle on everyone else.

The plastic bag ban that took effect eight months ago is just one recent example of how Portland imposes its “green” ideology on everyone who does business here. If enough people thought refraining from using plastic shopping bags would protect the environment, and valued the importance of that, they would choose not to use plastic bags. Plastic bags are a reusable product I get when I buy something else. But I no longer get the choice of canvas, paper, or plastic. Instead of reusing my plastic bags, I have to buy other plastic bags to take out my garbage. Where is the net environmental benefit in that?

Our choices are our personal liberty in action. If we want to preserve our freedom in the most important areas of our lives, we need to stop government from encroaching even on what may appear to be the most trivial of things.

Erin Shiffler is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.