OPINION: Personal liberties are real, straws killing turtles is fake news


It all started with a nine year old’s school project which made the disputed claim that we use 500 million straws a day in the United States and a picture of a turtle with a straw in its nose. Advocacy groups sprung up draining precious resources from other issues to carry the battle flag to ban the straws. It has since grown to major cities like Washington DC, and now Seattle outlawing straws. The science and Constitution are not in their favor.

Nearly 90% of the ocean plastics come from just 10 rivers. Eight are in Asia and two are in Africa. The United States contributes about one percent of the total plastics in the ocean. Straws are less than one percent of that. Additionally, The bulk of the ocean’s “plastic patch” is fishing nets and gear which is abandoned all over the world, but significantly more in areas where there is less modernization and fewer rules. Banning straws in the US will make only a minuscule impact (if any), and the alternatives have their own problems that some scientists say could conceivably make matters worse. There are an estimated eight billion straws used worldwide each year and their net weight is estimated to be three tenths of one percent of the total weight of the plastic in the oceans. That is the equivalent of banning shoe strings on a 100 lb woman before you throw her in the pool.

The more important societal question becomes how far do citizen protections go under the Constitution? “liberties shall not be removed without due process of law, everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law”. Does the government really have the Constitutional power to tell a mother that her child cannot have a drink in the car because it is illegal to use a straw? Do they really have the right to stop medical patients and the elderly from using straws or requiring a prescription for a straw so others can “feel good” about the Environment?

Can they revoke Dairy Queens right to sell Blizzards to please some people who don’t care about the science? How many car wrecks might occur if we ban all straws and children are forced to sip from open cups and spill them? Are the accidents worth it for something that is almost immeasurable? And if the government can ban straws whats next? Buttons? Plastic spoons and forks? The simple fact is that this is a “solution” in search of a problem and a tremendous waste of government resources. If the private sector wishes to make the choice to not offer straws then the government should certainly stay out of that decision, but the Government intrusion is too far into peoples lives already without having a swat team take down a Tastee Freeze who violates the straw act. Remember, every law must be enforced. Governments use (and abuse) laws like this to generate revenue and it clogs up the already overloaded courts. Not to mention that if a business is shut down even for a couple of days on the “straw rap” there will be employees who miss their rent or car insurance payments. Remember, every plastic soda bottle is equal to 30 straws. So if you use a straw a day, skip a soda a month and use a glass with a straw, and call it even.

We could probably help the environment more if the government stopped chasing straws and actually filled potholes so all the blown tires didn’t go to the landfills or worse yet the local creek. It is not just questionable science but questionable policy. In 1773 we revolted over a 2% tax on tea. Stop surrendering liberties people died for you to possess.

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