San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, October 4, 2013

Everyone Wants His Neighbor's Property

Most readers are familiar with the flooding that took place in northeastern Colorado a couple of weeks ago.  As the waters subsided the career politicians came crawling out of the woodwork promising bags of cash for those who had suffered losses as a result of the floods.  As we would expect, the cash contained within those bags did not come from the wealthy politicians who were holding them.  The bags were stashed with cash that previously belonged to other people and had been removed from them by the full power and authority of the federal government.  I wrote about that disgusting series of events here.  Today I would like to point out another example in the endless list of examples of hypocrisy by career politicians.
When Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey last year there was the usual political fallout.  NJ Governor Christie and King Obama became fast friends as they postured together amid the ravaged storefronts.  They delivered speeches promising enormous bags of other people's money to those who had suffered losses as a result of the hurricane.  When Congress met to grant the federal relief funds to the politically connected in New Jersey there were a handful of House Republicans who voted against the bill.  They gave speeches in which they argued very much like I have in this blog on many occasions.  They said that it is a sad thing to witness a natural disaster but it is not the responsibility of the federal government to take money from one group and give it to another simply because a natural disaster has occurred.  And they were right.  But then things changed.
In an article in today's Denver Post, Allison Sherry reports that "Colorado's House Republicans are taking criticism from some members of the New Jersey delegation for opposing a Hurricane Sandy relief bill earlier this year and then seeking cash from that bill for Colorado's flood-ravaged areas....Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell Jr said in a news release that 'Some of these very congressmen are shamelessly proving just how hypocritical they are.'"  Talk about the kettle calling the pot black.  Still, the New Jersey delegation is correct.  The Colorado representatives are complete hypocrites.  Does that surprise anyone?  Moral and ethical principles, always loosely held, fly out the window when the moment comes a career politician can purchase a future vote for a bag of cash, especially when that cash comes from the federal government.
Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, just like Governor Christie, has received a huge stimulus to his political career by running around, willy nilly, making speeches about how great the citizens of Colorado are, all the while shedding the occasional fake tear of sympathy for those who experienced losses.  He is a virtual shoe-in to get reelected.  The floods were the best thing that could have happened to his political career.  Even today he continues to beat the drum for more stolen money....ummm....I mean federal funds.  In an article in today's paper (page 2) he says, "I think the consensus here is that we're all going to work together and kick and scream to get resources."  His comments were made to a group of people in Miliken who believe that they are not getting their fair share of the federal largess.  So we all have to kick and scream, like little children, to get the attention of the federal paymasters?  What have we become?
I opened my mail box yesterday to discover a blue booklet with the official seal of the State of Colorado on it.  I know I should have felt honored to receive mail from my Prince but it only made me gag.  The top of the booklet had this sentence written on it, "Notice of Election to Increase Taxes on a Citizen Petition."  Inside I read that Amendment 66 proposes to raise my state income taxes from 4.63% to 5.0% and to use that extra revenue exclusively to fund government schools.  In addition, folks who are unlucky enough to make more than $75,000 in a year would see their tax rate rise to 5.9%, also to be used for government school funding.  I flipped through the booklet to the section where arguments against approving the amendment were listed.  Strangely, not one single argument against the proposed amendment had anything to say about the fact that I should never be forced to pay for my neighbor's kid's government school education. Both the pro and the con groups agreed that it is morally right and proper to take money from me to pay for my neighbor's kid's government school education.  The arguments only had to do with how efficiently the theft could or should be done.
All of these items hit me at one time in the last day.  It was  not a good day.  I am thinking about getting some anti-depressants, if I can find a doctor who is not a member of the government cartel to sell them to me.  I am also forced to come to one conclusion.  I can't blame the politicians for doing what they do.  They are simply trying to keep their jobs.  In the final analysis the blame for our present covetous state of affairs falls squarely on the fact that everybody wants his neighbor's property.  Very few of us are brazen enough to get a gun, go to our neighbor's front door and rob him of his wealth.  On the other hand, practically every citizen in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is ready, willing and able to use his vote to authorize a politician to take the money of his neighbor and give it to him.
These covetous clumps of human detritus all have reasons for why they believe they are entitled to the property of their neighbors.  We were in a hurricane.  We were in a flood.  We were in a tornado.  We have a lot of kids who need to go to school.  It is in your best interest to pay for my kid's education because if my kids are educated they are less likely to mug you while you walk down the street.  Sounds a lot like extortion, doesn't it?   When it comes to manufacturing reasons why they are entitled to my property they are the most creative thinkers in the universe.  There is no end to the reasons why they have been victimized and I should be required to pay. 
I see no light at the end of the tunnel.  I see no reasonable way that the present state of affairs can be reversed.  Everyone worships at the throne of state power.  Those who claim to believe in limited government only do so when the limitations are upon those outside their districts.  When it comes time to accept their bag of federal cash the hands are quickly thrust forward and cries for more cash are heard all around.  It is all sin of course.  It is all wrong.  It is all theft.  It will all result in people being punished on judgment day.  They will all plead ignorance and that everyone else was doing it.  It will not matter.  Theft is theft.  I want no part of it but, right now, I feel like I am the only person in the SDA who believes and acts this way.  I would like some company.  As Pink Floyd sadly sang in the song "Comfortably Numb", "Is there anybody out there?"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Government Debt Default, Once Again

I am so angry my clenched fists can barely type out the words for this post.  How many times do we have to go down this road before people figure out that we are all being played for dupes and fools by the career politicians and their media lackeys?  As I sit here writing today's post the stock market has dropped by over 1% on panic selling related to comments made by the Treasury.  An article just posted on says this, "The U.S. Treasury Department is warning that the economy could plunge into a downturn worse than the Great Recession if Congress fails to raise the federal borrowing limit and the country defaults on its debt obligations. A default could cause the nation's credit markets to freeze, the value of the dollar to plummet and U.S. interest rates to skyrocket."  What a joke.  What a bunch of liars.  The whole lot of them should be rounded up, taken outside, and pummeled with wet noodles until they cry like little girls.  I don't think it would take long.  They are all huge sissies.  Let's consider the arguments for a moment.
First, the federal government is not going to default on its debt obligations.  Congress has until October 17th (something about that date seems familiar.....I just can't remember what it is) to raise the debt ceiling.  Guess what?  They will wait until the last minute and then they will raise the debt ceiling.  Go here for a history of congressional debt ceiling increases.  Since 2001 the Congress has raised the debt ceiling 14 times.  Debt ceiling increases used to be largely perfunctory actions until the career politicians and their media lackeys figured out they could buy votes and increase ratings by making a gigantic spectacle out of each increase.  Why do we continue to pay attention to these idiots and fools?  Why do we bother giving them the time of day?  Oh that the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika had the good sense to just turn their backs on the political machinations coming out of Washington DC and get on with their lives.  It would be such a pleasure to see a politician get before the microphone to make a speech and have absolutely nobody in the audience.
Second, even if Congress fails to increase the debt ceiling on time it does not follow that a "recession greater than the Great Recession" will necessarily take place.  Like everything else Congress does, they make their own rules as they go along.  All congressional timetables are arbitrary and subject to change without notice.  They could simply say, at the last minute, that they are giving themselves another week to raise the debt ceiling.  They can do whatever they want.  They are Congress.  Nothing can prevent them from changing their own rules.  The hypocritical behavior of Congress as its members pretend to be following some sort of rule book is monstrously grotesque.  They should all be fired for putting SDA citizens through this bizarre theater.
Third, even if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling and the SDA technically goes into a default, nobody in the universe will believe it.  It will not be a real default.  When I default on my mortgage the mortgage company knows that I am not going to be paying it off.  That creates real problems.  Unlike Congress, I do not have a personal banker who can counterfeit money for me at will.  I cannot call my banker and ask him to pay off my loan with counterfeit money.  When I default there are serious consequences for my behavior.  Not so with the federal government.
Everyone in the world knows that Congress and the Treasury/Federal Reserve conglomerate can create money at will.  They might miss a payment or two for dramatic effect but, just like the non-essential government employees were paid for the work they did not perform when they returned to their non-essential positions, so every government bond holder knows that he will eventually be paid the interest he expects on his bond purchase.  Congress and the Treasury will not default simply because they can and will make the decision to pay off their debtors with more counterfeit money.  It happens all the time.  It is business as usual in Washington DC.  All of this talk about debt default is nothing more than theater, and bad theater at that.  Interest rates will not rise.  The dollar will not collapse.  Everyone seems to forget that the strength of the dollar is not based upon the political power of the federal government.  It is based upon the economic power of the SDA, which is considerable.  Washington DC could cease to exist tomorrow (oh that it were true) and nothing would happen to the value of the dollar, except perhaps it might go up.
What bothers me the most in this entire scenario is how nobody is willing to stand up and declare that the Emperor has no clothes.  Where are the media watchdogs who are just waiting for the opportunity to expose media fraud?  Where are the government watchdogs waiting to pounce upon the lies of career politicians?  Where are the economic think tanks who know better than to believe all of this mindless chatter about government debt default?  Why do the talking heads on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News not simply ignore the belligerent babbling coming out of the mouths of pontificating politicians?
These career politicians continually tell us that they are public servants dedicated to protecting our interests.  The reality is they are dedicated to the goal of getting us to serve them and praise them for everything that they do.  They are incessantly seeking the praise of men and they will do anything to make themselves look good in our eyes.  When there is no disaster looming on the horizon that would cause us to look to them with adoring eyes full of trust and faith they will manufacture one.  That is happening today.  Don't fall for it.  Ignore them.  Turn away and watch the baseball playoffs instead.  They are more interesting and much more important for society that the actions of career politicians.

Update:  October 4, 2013

Yesterday King Obama delivered a speech on the government shutdown.  According to the Denver Post, He "warned of economic fallout" that will necessarily occur as a result of the decrease in government spending.   Also, in today's editorial, the Post said that "the current shutdown of the federal government could be harmful to the economy; but it pales in signficance to the global financial crisis that could result from the U.S. not paying its debts."  So there you have it.  Both ridiculous arguments continue to be made by people who should know better.
I would like to call the bluff of everyone who believes that government spending creates economic growth.  If that religious belief is true, then it necessarily follows that increasing government spending increases economic growth.  Of course to increase the amount the government spends the government must first increase the amount it takes in revenue.  So we find ourselves at the logical conclusion that the best means to bring about prosperity for all the citizens of the SDA is to tax 100% of the income of everyone, give it to the government and let the government spend it, thus creating economic growth on a scale never previously attained in this country.  If you fear that your needs cannot be met when you have no income you are only showing your ignorance.  Everything will come from government.  Even better, what we get from government will be greater, more magnificent, more powerful, more enriching and more suited to meet our needs than anything ever produced by the free market.  Are you with me?

Update:  October 8, 2013

I am watching the King's speech as I write this update.  He just said that it would be "irresponsible to downplay the consequences of a government debt default."  Is the King an idiot or a liar?  I really don't know.  It is possible he is so stupid that he does not realize that Treasury will not default on its bonds simply because a debt limit increase is not passed.  He acts as if government has no current revenue.  Is he that dumb?  The federal government paid $225 billion in interest in FY 2013.  During that same fiscal year the federal government received $2.4 trillion in revenues.  The federal government had more revenue in the month of September ($236 billion) than its entire interest obligation for the year.  So what do you think?  Can the Treasury afford to pay its interest obligations?
What bothers me is the fact that Kings and career politicians should know this fact.  If they do not they are exceedingly stupid.  On the other hand, if they are aware of this fact and still continue to try to scare us into believing that economic Armageddon is around the corner if the debt ceiling is not increased, they are miserable liars who should all be fired, impeached or otherwise removed from public office.  The King is wrong.  It is extraordinarily irresponsible for him to warn us about dire consequences that will never happen in order to gain political power for himself.  What a jerk.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Government Shutdowns Do NOT Hurt The Economy

I continue to be amazed at the gross economic stupidity being put on display by everyone who discusses the federal government shutdown.  Without exception, I have neither seen nor heard any story that does not agree with the presupposition that a federal government shutdown is somehow harmful to the economy.  I clicked into last night and was treated to this headline, "Shutdown Costs $40-$80 Million a Day."   Here is a selection from that ridiculous article:
"Estimates on the economic impacts of the shutdown vary from $40 to $80 million a day, but share one similar prognostication: a government shutdown is bad for the economy. After a bruising half decade of crawling back from recession, it's unclear just how bad it would be.  Morgan Stanley's Vincent Reinhart and Ellen Zentner estimated the shutdown would have a direct impact on gross domestic product growth.
'Compensation of non-defense employees and civilian defense employees makes up about one-fifth of real federal spending and about 1.5% of GDP. Eliminate a third of that in a shutdown as non-exempt workers stay home, and GDP is haircut 0.5%. Annualized, this reduces quarterly GDP growth by around 0.15 percentage points per week of shutdown,' they wrote in an analysis of the shutdown."
Let's consider the above argument for a moment, shall we?  Notice first the presupposition that is shared by every single person who discusses this issue.  According to the article, everyone agrees that a "shutdown is bad for the economy".  How it is bad for the economy is not described.  Why it is bad for the economy is not defined.  The economic principles and arguments in support of this belief are not elucidated.  It is simply presupposed by those who discuss the topic that a government shutdown is economically bad.  A presupposition is not an argument and, in this case, it is an erroneous presupposition that necessarily generates false conclusions.
Think about it for a moment.  The article attempts to calculate how much the Gross Domestic Product of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is going to drop as a result of lower government spending and temporary layoffs.   The economic geniuses at Morgan Stanley have calculated that the economic impact of federal employee furloughs amounts to .15%/week in lost GDP.  That calculation is based upon the incorrect assumption that the wages earned by the 800,000 people who are not going to work today somehow contribute to the GDP of the SDA.  Even at face value the assertion is ridiculous.  These economic gurus have calculated that somehow the economy of the SDA is losing 40 to 80 million dollars a day.  Yet, if the average salary earned by the 800,000 non-essential government employees who are not going to work today is factored into the equation, we are actually adding money to the economy every day they are off the job.  If I have done my math correctly, and assuming that the average government employee makes $40,000/year, then we the taxpayers are paying the non-essential employees of the federal government a grand total of $128 million per day in wages.  So even if the economy is somehow losing money due to the lack of work from the furloughed employees, we still come out way ahead after calculating the amount we do not have to pay in wages. 
The problem, of course, is that the GDP statistic used by the federal government includes government spending as a positive function in the economy.  Government economists believe that when the government spends a dollar that dollar is actually an economic good.  They believe that when the government spends a dollar a dollar has been added to the total value of the economy.  But even a grade school child can see the stupidity of that belief.  Government does not produce anything except rules, regulations and the occasional comedic moment when some Senator gets caught with his pants down and his microphone turned on.  The money that it spends must first be extracted from the taxpayers either by means of the tax system or via inflation created by the Federal Reserve system.  Every dollar the government spends is first taken from someone else.  Nothing is ever created.  Are we to believe that the person who has his dollar taken from him would not have done something productive with it?  Are we to believe that it is only when the government spends money that good things happen to the economy?  The simple fact is that government does not create any economic wealth.  It never has and it never will.  It is technically, logically, economically and practically impossible.
The truth of the matter is that government is a net destroyer of wealth and capital.  That does not mean that government is evil.  It is just the nature of the beast that it consumes, rather than creates, capital.  Furthermore, the interventions of government into the economy are not cost free.  Every time the government creates a new regulation or issues a new tax the net impact of those activities is a reduction in total capital in the economy.  Governments and governmental activity are always capital consumptive.  It therefore necessarily follows that less government equals greater capital creation.  Rather than being in a situation where a federal government shutdown harms the economy we are actually in a situation where the federal government shutdown is helpful for the economy.  If this is true, why does everyone in the universe believe the opposite?
The answer to the above question is simple and clear.  People worship government.  Government is the religion of the masses.  Both Republicans and Democrats worship government.  Both welfare-statists and warfare-statists worship government.  All media outlets worship government.  Alleged proponents of limited government worship government.  Government is the source of all things.  Government is always, by definition, good.  Government is omniscient, omnipresent and beneficent.  How do people react when their god takes a nap?  They panic!  There sure is a lot of panicking going on around me today.  But I know that it has nothing to do with the state of the economy and everything to do with the religious beliefs of those who populate the SDA.  Fellow citizens of the SDA, I exhort you to give up your idols.  Stop worshiping the Beast.  Come and rejoice with me that, at least for a couple of days, the beast is a little bit smaller.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown Gamesmanship

I was watching Fox News last night and saw an interview with Nancy Pelosi about the present state of affairs in Washington DC.  She appeared to be on the verge of tears.  She was so emotionally distraught that she refused to speak to the reporters, preferring instead to defer her interview time to a more eloquent colleague.  That moment was the first time I ever thought of Pelosi as a smart woman.  She should defer her appearances in public more often.  She was faking it, of course.  They (career politicians) always do.  There is never any genuine emotion when they stand in front of the cameras.  But it was good theater and I enjoyed her performance.
I forget who came up next to speak on her behalf.  It was a man and a member of the House.  He was surrounded by about a dozen other men, all of them standing around with the most somber looks on their faces they could produce.  If the sound had been turned down and I was just watching the pictures I would have assumed that the earth had just been destroyed by Martians.  They were all putting on a very good show.  Maybe the Academy should designate an award for "Best Performance By A Career Politician" next year.  It was pretty obvious that the House Democrats wanted anyone watching the interview to come to the conclusion that something horrible was about to happen and it was entirely the fault of the House Republicans.
Meanwhile, Fox News was doing the usual trailers along the bottom of the screen.  Words like "historic" and "unprecedented" and "economically harmful" were bouncing along, all in reference to the alleged impact of the expected shutdown of the federal government.  What a bunch of liars.  I would like to think that they are just ignorant and stupid but I cannot bring myself to that conclusion.  Both the career politicians and the media lackeys who follow them about know that nothing bad will come of the federal government shutdown.  They are just exploiting this opportunity for their own selfish ends.  For them this is nothing but a game.  Allow me to explain.
Despite the fact that Congress and the media is pretending that this has never happened before, the federal government has shutdown 17 times in the past 37 years.  The most recent shutdown was in 1996, under the Clinton administration.  The longest shutdown was also during the Clinton administration.  The federal government was closed for 21 days in 1995.  And guess what?  The world did not come to an end during either of those shutdowns.  In fact, you probably didn't even remember them, did you?  Now why would that be?  Could it be that federal government shutdowns are totally insignificant events that have no lasting impact upon the economy and citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika?  I think so.
We are told that the shutdown is going to result in 800,000 non-essential federal employees not reporting to work today.  Hurray!  Hurray!  If only the essential employees would also be told to stay home.  Please explain to me why it is a bad thing when non-essential employees do not go to work.  Imagine for a moment the absurdity of a profit seeking corporation carrying an enormous payroll of non-essential employees.  Further imagine that this profit seeking corporation is not realizing any profits whatsoever.  Even further imagine that this profit seeking corporation is wallowing in debt.  What do you think is the first thing the Board of Directors should do?  It does not take a bureaucrat to realize that the first thing that must be done is the firing of all non-essential employees.  The 800,000 federal government employees who are being furloughed today should also be permanently terminated.
I read an interview with one federal employee in today's newspaper.  She informed the interviewer that she was going out to apply for unemployment today.  So her being fired will have little to no impact upon her financial status.  In fact, previous furloughs of non-essential federal government employees have turned into what were essentially short term vacations.  In the last two federal government shutdowns the Congress passed a law after the shutdown was over in which those non-essential employees received their regular pay for the work that they did not perform.  Did you know that?  What do you think will happen this time?  Despite all of the hoopla coming from the mouths of the furloughed federal employees, we all know that they are secretly rejoicing at their extra days of paid vacation. 
Have you ever wondered about who these non-essential employees are?  Here is a list of the top seven bureaus in the federal government where non-essential employees are most concentrated:
  • NASA - 97% are non-essential.
  • Housing and Urban Development - 95% are non-essential.
  • Environmental Protection Agency - 94% are non-essential.
  • Department of Commerce - 87% are non-essential.
  • Department of Labor - 82% are non-essential.
  • Depart of the Treasury - 80% are non-essential.
  • Department of Energy - 69% are non-essential.
How can a government bureau that is populated with non-essential employees at a rate higher than 50% ever justify its existence?  Why are SDA taxpayers paying for NASA?  If 95% of the people who work in the Department of Housing and Urban Development are non-essential, how can the activities that are conducted by those people possibly be considered vital for the citizens of the SDA?   If the federal government truly is capable of saving the earth and protecting the environment, why are 94% of the employees who work at the Environmental Protection Agency non-essential?  If regulating business (Commerce and Labor) is such an important function of government, how can 87% and 82% of the people who work in those departments be deemed non-essential?
Don't fall for the lies spewing forth from Washington and the media.  I wrote two other posts to this blog that deal with this same issue.  They can be found here and here.  Relax and enjoy the show.  Personally I am hoping that Nancy Pelosi wins the Oscar for Best Performance by a Career Politician.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Zealous Aspen Do-Gooders Raise Taxes On The Poor

I was in the Aspen area last week looking for peaks to climb and scenic views to enjoy.  The glitzy mountain resort of Aspen is the most convenient base of operations for access to the majestic Elk mountains.  It is not possible for a person of my limited means to stay in Aspen so my wife and I found the cheapest hotel in the nearby ski resort known as Snowmass Village.  Although only a short distance from Aspen, it is a world apart in culture and lifestyle.  Prior to checking into our hotel we stopped and purchased some provisions at a "City Market" grocery store in the town of Carbondale.  Carbondale is basically a town for the people who serve the wants and needs of the rich people living in Aspen.  There are plenty of construction workers, maids and other blue collar professionals living there and it is quite common to hear Spanish being spoken. 
We entered the grocery store and picked up enough items to be able to have breakfast in our room each morning, as well as some food and drink for the hikes we had scheduled.  Not wanting to spend any more time than was necessary in the store, we made haste to the self check-out line and immediately noticed that something was wrong.  I looked around and observed that something was wrong with every self check-out station.  Not one of them was equipped with any bags!  The lady who was responsible for patrolling the self check-out area immediately noticed my conundrum and informed me that plastic bags were no longer available in the store.  Any items I purchased had to be removed from the store in one of three ways.  I could: 1) Purchase a reusable fiber bag for $1/bag, 2) Purchase a disposable paper bag for $.20/each (I had not noticed the stack of paper bags under the check-out area) or 3) Carry the items out in my hands.
I flew into an immediate rage.  Now let me make one thing clear.  When I fly into rages it is rare if anyone but my spouse knows what is going on.  I don't make a scene.  I don't yell or throw things around.  But inside my mind I am raging.  I was almost out of control with mental anger.  I asked the lady why I was unable to use a plastic bag for my groceries and she informed me that it had been over a year since the city council had made the command decision that plastic bags were evil and to be banned from the area forever.  The impetus for the ban had come from the ultra-left wing liberals who populate the town of Aspen.  Those detached folks believe that they are somehow "saving the earth" by banning the use of plastic grocery bags.
I immediately attempted to figure out some way to make a statement.  I thought about opting for # 3 above and carrying each of the approximately 15 items we had purchased out of the store in my hands.  Then I thought I would ask for assistance to my car and force one of the bag-boys (although I cannot call them that now because there are no bags....what should they be called now that there are no bags to fill with groceries?) to carry them out for me.  My wife sanely convinced me that there was no reason to punish the bag-boys for the stupidity of the Aspen city council.  So much was wrong with the scenario in which I found myself I hardly knew what to do.  I eventually spent $.40 of my hard earned cash on two paper bags.  I stomped out of the store muttering to myself about government intrusion into the market place.
We arrived at our hotel room in Snowmass Village and set out to find a restaurant for dinner.  We settled upon one of the four restaurants that was still open (it is the off season and very few businesses were open) where we quickly found a table.  While sitting at the table I noticed a copy of the Aspen Times sitting on a nearby counter.  I picked it up and there, splashed across the front page of the paper, was this headline, "Aspen has collected $44k from plastic-bag ban".  I was incensed.  The story informed me that, "the city of Aspen has collected $44,826 in fees associated with its plastic-bag ban program since it was implemented in May 2012.  Approximately $20,000 of that has been used to pay for public outreach and implementation.  The ordinance implemented a 20-cent fee for every paper bag distributed at grocery store checkouts."  As it turned out, the ban was being administered by the "Aspen Department of Environmental Health and Sustainability", whatever that is.  The Mayor of Aspen, Steve Skadron, was quoted as "praising the program, explaining that being seen with your reusable grocery bag in Aspen is the 'cool thing'".  There is so much wrong with this scene I hardly know where to begin with my criticism.
Where does government get the right to interject itself into the voluntary business transactions between grocery stores and their customers?  Where does government get the right to determine how I can carry my grocery purchase from the store to my car?  Why is the determination of the type of grocery bag I can carry (paper, plastic, or hemp fiber) anything that government should be involved in?  Furthermore, who has determined that banning plastic grocery bags is doing anything to save the earth, whatever that means?  Where is the hard data that proves that plastic grocery bags are damaging the earth, whatever that means?  The entire program designed to eradicate the use of plastic grocery bags is nothing more than a feel good scam for the fashion conscious residents of Aspen.  To make matters worse, the poor people of Carbondale are paying the costs for the program.
I don't know what the average income or net worth is for the average citizen of Aspen and I am too lazy to look it up.  I can assure you that it is higher than any place on earth I have ever visited.  Just taking a stroll down main street and looking at the real estate for sale ads in the front windows of the realtor's offices is enough to convince anyone that Aspen is a unique place.  If the home I live in were situated in Aspen it would sell for $3 million.  On the other hand, after spending some time in Carbondale I believe it is fair to say that the folks who live there are probably on equal footing with me as far as income and net worth are concerned.  In other words, we are very poor when compared to the Aspenites.  So what does the Aspen city government decide to do to their fellow citizens?  They decide that it looks cool to be seen in Aspen carrying a fiber grocery bag so they ban all plastic bags and force the poor people of Carbondale to pay 20 cents per paper bag, that they cannot afford, just to feed their greenie vanity and sense of moral superiority.  This is nothing more than another wealth transfer program, initiated without a popular vote, that takes the hard earned dollars of the citizens of Carbondale and transfers it to the multi-billionaire citizens of Aspen all because those Aspenites like to "look cool".  What a travesty.  What an outrage.
And then, as if the wealth transfer scheme is not bad enough, the money that is collected from the defenseless workers is used to pay for "education programs".  The content of these education programs informs the poor people of Carbondale that they are stupid and inferior to the citizens of Aspen.  The programs teach the Carbondale residents that they are not cool and never will be cool.  The content of the reeducation informs the peons who populate Carbondale that they are too stupid to recognize that the earth needs to be saved from the depredations of the dreaded plastic grocery bag.  As I pondered the situation it did not take long for me to realize who the really stupid people are in this scenario.