Via Gabe over at the AoSHQ comes this article from Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg. Ponnuru's article explores some of the "unintended" consequences of plastic-bag bans. Among others he points out studies that show a body-count attributable to them.
Now, I don't know enough about the studies to say how rigorous they are, and certainly people should take enough responsibility for themselves to wash their reusable bags. Neither of those are the point here. No, the point is that this wouldn't even be a problem without the mandates to use the reusable bags.
I shop at Aldi (well: my wife does most of the shopping, because she loves me and knows I hate it, but you get the point), and I love it. Their prices are fantastic. I can feed my entire family (4 people, plus two dogs) on an average of $100/wk because of Aldi and Walmart. Aldi encourages the use of reusable bags (note: does not require, just encourages). We have made that choice because we like the savings related to it.
The important thing there is that it is my choice. I could choose not to shop at Aldi. I could choose to shop at Aldi, but buy plastic or paper bags from them every time. I could choose. People in San Fransisco, and Los Angeles, and other California cities cannot choose.
If I fail to wash my reusable bags and I get sick, that's my own darn fault. I made choices that led to that decision. If I knew I was a sloppy kind of person who was never going to wash them, I could choose not to use them at all and save myself the hassle. Those cities in California have decided that people can't take a look at their own habits and make decisions based on them. No, they have to have their actions and choices mandated by the city council.
Now, though, we have evidence (however tenuous) that reusable bags are killing people. And we know the Liberals (for whom California is a bastion) believe in the axiom "If it might save even one life." So what follows?
In a Conservative State, or even just one still in touch with reality, we'd allow plastic bags back in. But not so in California. They'll either do nothing, or they'll Do Something. These are Liberals: they'll Do Something.
My Guess? You know those propane cylinder recycling places? They're usually at grocery stores and some convenience stores. You can take your empty tank and get a new (or at least full) one much cheaper. I suspect a mandate along those lines. Once the mandate kicks in, people will bring in their reusable bags and place them in a large rolling laundry cart, like you might see at a hotel. They'll get a voucher for the number of bags they brought in. Then, when they check out, they'll be given that same number of bags "for free" and the grocery store will be required (enforced with inspections from City and/or State health officials) to wash the returned ones.
And the cost will simply be passed to the consumer. But that will simply be another "unintended" consequence.