Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Save the environment: Bag the ban

Save the environment, Vote or say no to bag bans or taxes.

There has been a new political fad spreading around the world. It is not about reviving the economy from the 2008 mortgage crash fallout. Its not about bring back jobs and lowering the unemployment rate. It is not even about repairing the broken health care system. A hot topic for the politicians now a days involves an everyday used item. The plastic bag. Yep the plastic shopping bag, even with all these political problems and many states and local areas on the brink of bankruptcy, The politicians are targeting this everyday item supermarkets and retail stores use to hold customers loose groceries in after they checkout for convenience and hygiene issues and to separate purchased items from non purchased ones to prevent theft both intentional and unintentional.

Just as with many nanny laws abound. This is trend is spreading like out of control wildfire. It seems like many politicians are interesting in sweating the small stuff when there is so much bigger issues to worry about.The argument for the ban by many government organizations include but not limited to the use of oil to produce them, littering on the streets, on open land, and oceans, burden on landfills, how plastic is not biodegradable and more. Though many of these claims are exaggerated claims as there is good data that plastic bags are not made from oil its actually made from natural gas, plastic bags can be made compostable, plastic bags are very useful and recyclable if done properly and its rather reusable for the population. Compared to other litter and trash in cities it is relatively difficult to find bags floating around. While in fact according to American Chemistry council, Keep America beautiful,  and various local litter studies bags account for less than 1% of litter which is puny consideringh styrofoam  consists of 15% and used Cigarette butts at a whopping 36.3% While these claims do get reported on the news however the news media is often censored in someways by the politicians and supporting special interest groups to avoid or reduce protraying the negative side of bag bans. Ironically on news website discussions the majority of the posts are negative regarding the ban however mainstream news sources often state there had been few complaints and the population is generally supportive of the change. Therefore they are truly covering up the truth. The hard truth is not only that thr majority is opposed to these taxes or bans, also that such bans and taxes can actually be much more harm then good for the world. I can show you why below.

While the tax or ban proponents claim these as single use bags that get thrown away after each use plastic bags  actually have a lot of uses beside just carrying items one way home. In fact come to think of it plastic bags seem to be among the most reusable plastic made items compared to any other plastic items one can find in the store. Plastic bags can be used to hold garbage, hold dirty items together, contain leaks, separate raw meat from each other and other items, hold wet items, the list goes on and on. I just wonder why not require food manufactures to use biodegradable food containers as these plastic packaging, unlike plastic bags, can only be used for its purposes once and is harder and longer to biodegrade and are harmful to those who consume the food in them. There are much more dangerous plastics such as the elastics that hold together six pack cans that can tangle marine life and these are far less biodegradable. If it wasn't for plastic bags holding these trash items together there would even be more litter laying around as they are not held and compressed together in a tied up plastic bag. Also landfills will fill up quicker resulting in overflowing trash in the landscape and increase demand to build more landfills which will damage the environment more. I travel to the most littered part of cities and I easily notice many of the trash along side roads rarely are plastic bags themselves but usually trashed contents of what a bag once held.

Its actually relatively easy to see the negative side if one search the news articles if one looks harder on the news sources the ones given less attention by mainstream news anchors. Many places that "ban" the plastic bag actually had issues with the plastic waste actually increasing after the bag ban. There had been incidences of people hoarding plastic bags to cope with their needs. There are also people who where used to reusing store plastic bags as trash can liners instead buying larger thicker bags to do the same job which take more energy to make and even worse to the environment. According to Bastiatinstitute San Francisco actually has increased pollution from plastic after its 2007 ban took effect, same thing happens with Ireland, Washington DC, and recently Hong Kong(tax levy being tested at select supermarkets) has seen greater plastic bag pollution greater amounts of garbage in landfills after they enacted bans or taxes. Plastic bag bans also increases the use of paper, cloth, or other material bags which can have their own harmful effects to health and environment which can become devastating if these become used in high quantities all of a sudden as a result from the bans. For example many so called "reusable" bags had been tested to contain alarming amounts of lead and fecel matters and paper bags increase co2. Another issue is that it would actually hinder efforts to engineer more environmental friendly plastic products. For example in places like California localities are required to recycle plastic bags however they are exempt from these efforts if they ban plastic bags therefore bans actually hinders efforts to develop and improve recycling techniques which also threatens many green job positions. Also it means the plastic manufacturing industry would lose funds to develop more recyclable or compostible products this goes far beyond merely plastic bags. In the end this means more harm than help for the environment after all.

So in the end the best solution anywhere particularly in a capitalist part of the world the best idea is to reward good behavior than punish. Taxes and bans create more of a problem than an answer. A kind of resembling the security "theatre" influenza created in the US and parts of the world in the years following 9/11. Countries and regional legislators should instead focus on creating incentives to to sped up development for safe biodegradable packaging for food products and other products for manufactures. For the issue of California instead of trying to ban plastic and charging for paper the state should instead have a cash pay policy for those who bring plastic or paper for recycling, composting, or reuse just as with cans and bottles recycling. This would get many people not only turning in their own bags but picking up littered bags and other plastics from the streets and be rewarded with pay. Also there should be rewards such as tax breaks for manufactures and grocery chains to develop biodegradable environment and health safe food containers and bags. Therefore in conclusion it is crucial to tackle the issue from the source and not punish the end user that's how civilized republic should act.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ma Yin Jao claims victory

File:2008 Taipei IT Month Opening Ying-jeou Ma.jpgThe past Saturday happens to be a very tense one as Taiwan's political future depends on the outcome of the election of who should be the next president of Taiwan and which party should rule. The Nationalist(Kuomingtang), the democratic Progressive party, or the People First party. The outcome not only affects the political climate of the Taiwan people as a whole it also affects the crucial cross straight relationship between Taiwan and the mainland which is a major trading partner especially after China has now the most important economic powerhouse of the world. Cross straight relationship had always been a sticky issue between the Island of the exiled Nationalist party and the communist ruling the mainland.

There can be different reasons how the Nationalist KMT is now dominate when just a few years ago Taiwanese got more power in politics and many of them favored the Pro-Taiwan Independence Democratic Progressive party. One reason might be the same reason why Hillary Clinton lost in the US. The Democratic Progressive Party's candidate Tsai Li Wen is the first female candidate in ROC's history. I bet there is always a reluctance to accept a break tradition for people of any country even though they want to encourage women to prove they can do it. Though one would wonder what if the candidate is another man and not a women? Would the results be different? Though my guess is Mainlanders now rule Taiwan once again. I guess the positive image China gives to Taiwan changed the Taiwanese vs Mainlander mentality. Unlike fifty years ago to twenty years ago where contact had all been severely restricted now there are nonstop cross straight flights, cross straight cargo shipping, and now there is even cross strait car passenger ferry that travels from Taichung to Xiamen. I guess Taiwanese are also starting to trust the Nationalists after Ma Yin Jao's first term and the successful passing of EcFa to reduce barriers between Taiwan and mainland commerce. I guess support for the Democratic progressive party who encourages Taiwan to liberate from China completely therefore eliminating the Republic of China rule and start a new Taiwanese government has somehow declined. This is hard to believe as a few years ago Chen Shui Bian, the former Democratic progressive party president who entered office in 2000 was reelected for one more term in 2004 and stayed in office until 2008 despite poor ratings and being accused of mismanaging public funds since he entered presidency in 2000 but the Taiwanese would still want to keep him in office in order to keep the hopes of getting China off their backs. There is some similarities of how George  W Bush was reelected although many people disapprove of him and angers at his war policies maybe due to the fear that attacked countries would retaliate when another president who is unfamiliar with the situation takes office despite the fact that candidate Kerry was a Vietnam war veteran while Bush actually dodged compulsary military service back then.

To explain who the Taiwanese are  they are the people who are either aborginals who traveled by boat to Taiwan from Philippines or other islands in near Taiwan as early as a thousand years ago or the ones who immigrated from the Fujian providence well before the Japanese military takeover in the early 1900s.

So would Taiwan become a Special Administrative Area or SAR of China? Following the example of Hong Kong? It seems like it might not happen in the next few years although as the island's residents build up increased trust with the mainland and mainland improves its human rights issues it might just happen one day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012 and Hello new "Nanny" government laws in California

SB929 Child booster seat now covers child until their eighth birthday unless they are over 4 ft 9in tall. Previously only covers up their six years birthday unless they already weigh more than 60 pounds before that.

Shark Fins has been banned as a food item.

All medications containing dextromethorphan which include many cough medications now require a prescription from a doctor.

A weird one no caffeine in beer

Tanning bed treatment is now restricted to age 18+

Public school systems need to teach about transgender history and rights in their curriculum

There is quite a number of them.

There is a threatening one Brown signed that Internet retailers collect tax if they have presence in the state. Though isn't this already the case currently? Those with physical presence as in a brick and motar store in the state collects the taxes?

Though this is a lucky year for residents compared to some years as most of these are not as invasive with people's lives as it can get.