By John Booth-The LibDems’ contribution to big government is to effectively ban plastic shopping bags. I wonder how Nick Clegg could for shame claim the credit. You could almost see the audience at the party conference squirm.
What is it that liberals, do-gooders and the politically correct have against plastic shopping bags? Is it just that they are given away free and they don’t like the idea of the public getting anything for free? Or that the public appreciate them and the LibDems just want to spoil your satisfaction? Are they the threat to civilization that they make out?
Plastic shopping bags are very much appreciated by the public. You don’t have to take them with you on the way out just in case you call into the supermarket. You always have the right number no matter how big or small a shop you do. And they cost nothing. In short they are very convenient.
The main argument against them I think is that they create litter. However, next time you go out just look how much of the litter lying about is plastic shopping bags from supermarkets.
Very little. The vast majority are cartons, plastic bottles, tin cans, other type of small plastic bags, crisp packets, glass bottles and broken glass and bits of paper. Mainly what kids throw away without thought for the neighbourhood. Perhaps the LibDems should think about banning kids.
Most people when they get home from the shops put the plastic shopping bags in the bin or an ever burgeoning cupboard.
The other reason given for banning plastic shopping bags is the huge areas of the oceans mainly the Pacific containing rubbish on the surface. As bad as this may be it is hardly the fault of British plastic shopping bags.
In Britain we dispose of plastic either in landfill sights or by recycling or degrading through burning or heating. The people the LibDems should be targeting are countries like the Philippines, Malaya, Thailand, South American and African countries. But that of course is too much like hard work and takes the blame of us.
The fact is that plastic shopping bags are made from waste plastic from the petrochemical industry and the plastic would be thrown away anyway. So you might as well get some use out of it before it is. They probably cost less than a 1/10th of a penny each and their benefit to the community is far greater than their cost.
But I didn’t write this piece just to complain about plastic shopping bags. It got me thinking of the other stupid causes and arguments that the liberal tendency engages in. The first one is the idea that all of England’s if not Britain’s food can be grown in an area the size of South East England if intensive farming is used.
This presumably lays the rest of the country open to building on. The first thing that has to be said is that battery or intensive farming is an odd stance for supposed liberals.
Secondly and more devastatingly to this argument is that as farming becomes more intensive the opportunity for cross infection and new diseases increase. Like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or blue tongue and off course the dreaded foot and mouth which can spread over smaller areas quicker.
We also have the effect that as you intensify projects up you don’t get the promised benefits that lower intensities would suggest. This is because of the 80/20 rule or Pareto rule. Pareto noticed that 80% of effort in an economic process gets wasted. This is unavoidable through human failings, incompetence, mistakes and happenstance.
And also it’s a fact of nature that industrial and farming processes cannot reach more than 40% efficiency except under highly controlled circumstances. For instance a power station that is designed and run to maximum efficiency achieves about 55% and an internal combustion engine out in the field 55% also.
Given the processes that they are attached to with friction and the need to stop and start and move around the overall efficiency drops markedly. Add to this human failings and you can see how the 80/20 rule comes about. It is therefore unlikely that such intensive farming can continue for long without major problems occurring.
The next hobby horse of the neo liberals can be described by the phrases ‘free market economics’ and ‘making assets sweat’. This claims that you should run an economy at maximum efficiency all the time to get maximum prosperity. 24 hour working, mass immigration to use any business opportunity going, flexibility of workers, zero hours contracts.
Of course this only applies to the shop floor workers not to the top management and the rewards are markedly different too.
But this doesn’t work either. You need slack in the system for when things go wrong. And things do go wrong as the 2008 banking crash and the stock market crashes like the dot com bubble and earlier crashes in the 1980s and 90s show. The one ting that free market economics guarantees is boom and bust.
The slack is needed to provide resources when the market fails and to take up the unemployment that results. If all business opportunities have been used by increasing the population through immigration the result is economic depression, high unemployment, deprivation and a need to increase government spending when government finances are at their worst.
We need to kick out the self-serving LibLabCons and replace them with a sensible party that puts the indigenous British first.
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