Nick Gillespie Talks Plastic Bag Bans on NPR's Tell Me More


Yesterday, I was on NPR's Tell Me More show, discussing plastic bag bans and taxes in DC, LA, Ireland, and elsewhere.

A snippet between me and host Michel Martin:

MARTIN: It's five cents. What so terrible?

GILLESPIE: Well, you know, first off, it's, you know, we live in a world where mayors certainly, I mean, I'm thinking of somebody like Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York, who has tried to ban, you know, all sorts of things that he personally finds offensive. I mean he most recently, you know, was pushing to pass a limit on the size of soda pop that could be bought, even as he was celebrating literally Donut Day with the world's biggest box of Entenmann Donuts, you know, as a way of addressing what he claimed was an obesity epidemic.

We live in a world where politicians and governments have shown time and time again that they're interested in controlling our very basic choices. I think that, you know, you really need to show that there is a huge pressing and dire concern that needs to be addressed, and that the policy will do that. I don't think that the plastic bag ban reaches that level….

[Your] question is what's the harm? It's only a nickel or it's only 19 bucks or 20 bucks a year or something like that. My question is—partly is, what's, you know, what's the good? And if in fact plastic bags don't make us that much of the waste stream, that plastic bags are not causing that many problems, why does the government, why is the default that the government can come in and say hey, you know what? Do it this way. Do it our way rather than your way or hit the highway. I think that's problematic.

Listen to the discussion (about 13 mins) here.

Jay Beeber gives the full argument about why plastic bag bans are full of feel-good baloney.

ReasonTV correspondent Kennedy talks with LA City Council folks about their plastic bag ban:

NEXT: Street Justice vs. a Supreme Court Justice

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  1. You know Nick, you need to stop using “you know” so much, this is NPR they don’t know.

    1. That transcript does kinda make you sound like a dumb Valley girl.

      1. i posted the same thing before i noticed this comment … the “you know” thing.

        it’s a VERY difficult “dialogue habit” to break. like most habits, it literally becomes hardwired into your body, and thus must be consciously fought, but EVENTUALLY the new patter emerges and it will then be the “norm” for Nick not to sling out “you know” like some valley girl parody

        1. eh… meant “pattern” not “patter”, but the latter is actually kind of appropriate

          1. You know, patter may be appropriate, you know? But, pattern is more so you know?

        2. I think that if any of us were given a 100 percent correct transcript of a lengthy oral response we give to a question, we’d be appalled at all of our hesitations and filler words.

          The interviews you read online and in magazines are heavily edited for content. All the “uhs” are taken out.

          1. i agree. otoh, as somebody who is often paid to speak publically, and who has watched (often painful) videos of my ‘performance’, the ‘you know’ thing is a valid point.

            nick shouldn’t be “average”. he’s a fucking libertarian mouthpiece jacket wearing stud.

            he just needs to bring the STYLE of his speech up so it’s at least within spittin’ distance of the SUBSTANCE , which is great stuff.

            again, he is guy who makes a living by his writing AND his televised/internet broadcasted, etc. PUBLIC SPEAKING, so he should be much better than average.

      2. dumb Valley girl

        Nick grew up in New Jersey….

        1. the valley is a location in the mind (or lack thereof). every community has its vals, if not its mods and rockers, or socs and rockers.

          where i used to surf, you were a val if your surfboard had practically any stickers, or you wore anything but a black websuit. and we didn’t even have a “valley” per se. you were still a “val” if you wore a bright wetsuit.

          and just begging to have violence done to you

      3. In my brief stint trying to break into television I helped write the transcripts for an episode of “The Bachelor” and YOU GUYS HAVE NO IDEA.

    2. you need to stop using “you know” so much

      It’s a Jersey thing.

      1. And it’s “you know”, it’s “ya know”.

      2. And it’s [not] “you know”, it’s “ya know”.

        (Still on first cup.)

  2. Because fuck you, that’s why.

  3. a friendly critique of nick’s conversational style…

    using “you know”, instantly downgrades your message. people’s eyes glaze over and you get less consideration for your ideas, no matter how brilliant (cue reasonoid wanks about my lack of capitalization … different venue… Nick was speaking to NPR, iow a population that tends to trend well educated…

    otoh, i give you props for posting that transcript and accept that written transcripts of conversations often read horribly…

    btw, if i can spamalot just a little bit…

    these guys are talented chefs and lifting mates of mine. especially for those in seattle who want healthier, tastier street food choices – support these guys at kickstarter. you even get swag based on your level of support!

    and you can make seattle a better place. something we all should want! 🙂…

    1. Uh…it doesn’t seem like they’re offering anything back to investors (other than, presumably, their existence, which you will still have to pay for to get food). That seems like a pretty stupid capital-raising scheme.

      1. Oh wait, didn’t see what they give out for different pledges on the side. I retract the observation.

        1. That’s one down, a couple thousand to go.

          1. thanks, epi.

            and my bad, since i just wanked a long response to your critique and now i see you retracted it! 🙂

          2. I’ll never retract those things I’ve said about you, Hugh. Never, you hear me?!?

            1. You’re just making the hole deeper, dude.

              1. Are you coming on to me?

                1. Only if you hold still.

                  1. Where’s the fun in that?

                    And I’m not hearing a no…

                    1. I know you’re just joking, but it still feels like you are cheating on me.

                    2. Maybe it’s just their way of letting you know that you need to rent a hotel room and bring along Super Mario Brothers. You know, be proactive.

                    3. Maybe if you paid more attention to me, it wouldn’t come to this.

      2. a dish named after you, free meals for a year, a signature on the food truck, etc. etc.?that’s certainly could certainly argue it doesn’t offer enough to make up for your capital outlay. i would argue that there is a time and a place for VOLUNTARY social activism.and when it comes to social activism, food activism is right up there with police brutality, police rights, right to keep and bear arms, speech, land use (fought hard against king county’s CAO) and other things i have advocated for/against and spent time, as well as money on

        i think helping people to learn what real food IS, helping aspiring chefs who want to make a POSITIVE change in the food scene here (don’t get me wrong. i love me some sausage with the seattle trademark cream cheese at 2 am as much as the next guy), and it’s stuff like this, when combined with other stuff that imo is what we should (and to an extent) ARE doing to fight the obesity busybody michelle obama bullshit, but making the market/availability/education in regards to real and healthy food more robust!
        regardless, it’s not for my benefit, but for my lifting buds and friends and the community.

        i can certainly say that if your sole concern is monetary return on investment, then there are much better investments to make.

        i think it’s a great way to be like the hippies and make a better world, except without all that pesky big govt., lack of gun rights stuff, not to mention ugh… bo and patchouli!

        fair critique

      3. Typing “Uh” is even worse. It’s like you’re actively trying to look like a stultato.

  4. Wating for my wife to give me a ride to work, I saw this show with Kelly somebody and she had Bryant Gumball on it. He says, of course he’s for the ban on big sodas. Big sodas lead to health costs for you and me. Charging more will thus save that cost, because people won’t pay it. Hah! First, people will pay it. B. What if we say people fucking leads to increased health costs. Abortions and whatnot. So let’s charge for that? I hate that guy. Is he supposed to be black?

    1. actually, it’s ironic you mention that because the studies i have seen show that both smoking and abortion are net MONEY SAVERS to society.

      so, let’s promote them! derp derp

      in re smoking, the %age of people who end up dying much younger and not taking SS payments (but still paid into it) and don’t incur other “old age” medical treatments etc. that often cost big $$$$ outweigh the medical costs of smoking while they are doing it.

      i’ll leave the racial crap alone with the “is he supposed to be black”

  5. I just came here to comment, you know, on the “you know” thing.

        1. Uh, ummm…uh, like, you know, whatever.

  6. I would just like to say that we should all chip in and get one of those transparent face masks for Butthurt Red Sox Guy. To capture his tears and suffocate him.

    1. This is not a toy. Misuse could result in serious injury or the death of democracy.

      1. Or, salty ham tears for all.

  7. Leave The Jacket alone. He’s on NPR. That he manages to say anything other than a torrent of curses and personal abuse in the presence of those bespectacled softheads is a superhuman feat.

    1. Nick’s eternal patience with bonecrushingly stupid cretins is truly a sight to behold. It’s certainly nothing I would ever emulate, but it is impressive nonetheless.

      1. nick on NPR is oddly reminiscent of borat with the feminists

      2. Look who’s projecting.

        Just because your response to disagreement is to immediately spew curses and insults doesn’t mean the rest of the world is similarly uncivilized.

        1. Oh, Tinkerbell, that’s just my response to retards…like you. Please hit us up with some more delusions of grandeur, though. Tell us how you keep this place civilized or something. That would be fucking gold.

    2. The Jacket is a prophet, and should be treated accordingly. Not everyone can a god such as Armstrong, Neil Fucking.

      1. Not unless they can be the first to fucking walk on a fucking celestial body other than Earth!

        I suppose it’s possible that other species in other solar systems could have their own “Neil Armstrong,” but that’s totally hypothetical and takes nothing away from our Neil Armstrong, who is the armstrongest.

        1. Why do all the alien encounters on Earth always seemed to have to be with some leftist environmental alien fucks? Why can’t a libertarian leaning alien come down here and talk about how if we had true free markets and deregulation we would already have a colony on Mars? And anal probes don’t count because those were done by the Koch brothers.

          1. Well, there was that time the Ferengi visited. Other than that, I dunno.

          2. Just read Eagle Against the Stars by Steve White, and the sequel Wolf Among the Stars. The aliens who make contact with us and begin trade with humanity are extremely minarchist, to the point where their government essentially just handles military affairs. Everything else is in the hands of the private sector. Actually, they have genetically engineered themselves for various colony planets, and the one subspecies that has a real State that holds the real power is considered strange and backward.

  8. We need better arguments on why pigovian taxes are bad.

    Perhaps one would be that the government is not good at deciding what is bad.

    Another would be that it puts funding of government into an unpredictable mess. Yes the idea may be to change people’s behavior but a tax is government revenue…and with revenue often the interests of what government was after in the first place gets misplaced.

    We may want to get rid of plastic bags….but if government is getting revenue from plastic bag it could very well contort government into protecting plastic bags…be honest do you feel comfortable with government getting billions in revenues from oil companies? Cigarettes? Alcohol? Chemical companies that manufacture plastic Bags?

    A 3rd argument is that without protecting choice and government can at anytime try to legislate behavior what happens when the other side gets this kind of power?

    Can they tax condoms? Abortions? Tax them with the intent of stopping “bad” behavior?

    1. maybe you are being rhetorical, but you are aware govt. FREQUENTLY taxes things with the intent of stopping bad behavioror at least disincentivizing it by making people pay extra – from liquor to cigs.

      and then of course there is the voluntary (but imo entirely evil) lottery tickets – taxes for people who are very bad at math

      1. We need better arguments on why pigovian taxes are bad.

    2. If a government can correctly price externalities, it could correctly price everything. There’s nothing special about externalities that makes them easy to price, in fact, the reason they’re externalities is often because their effects are hard to quantify.

      So the failure of centrally planned price-fixing implies that centrally planned externality-taxing would fail as well.

      1. Re: Tulpa the White,

        If a government [could] correctly price externalities, it could correctly price everything.


        1. “can” was correct.

      2. Tulpa the White|6.6.12 @ 6:34PM|#
        “If a government can correctly price externalities,..”

        It would be supernatural.

  9. Why has nobody mentioned that reusable bags have been linked to norovirus?…..20495.html

    1. Because, that would make them look bad, and we can’t have that.

    2. We do use throw-away plastic bags for the same reason that hospitals use disposable rubber gloves.

      It is not just for convenience.

      The nannies forgot what the world was like before we had the life saving technology of plastic.

      1. joshua corning|6.6.12 @ 7:09PM|#
        “We do use throw-away plastic bags for the same reason that hospitals use disposable rubber gloves.”

        Maybe we can get a law passed whereby the wackos who hate plastics can only buy ‘open’ packaged food. The stuff where everyone gets to stick their finger in.

  10. I remember the late Warren Brooks (Ronald Bailey is the Warren T. Brooks fellow of something or other) writing a column saying that it took more oil to make a paper bag than to make a plastic bag.

  11. I mean, like, he’s so, you know…

  12. Wasn’t the transparent ski mask idea ripped off from the Bill Murray SNL skit for cheap Halloween costumes? I recall the spaceman costume was a clear plastic bag and a rubber band… The “Johnny Human Torch” costume seemed even more dangerous, a black sweatshirt with some oily rags attached and a lighter.

  13. I heard it yesterday. Not a bad set, though it wasn’t the best radio performance. I was wondering if he was wearing The Jacket in studio.

  14. We live in a world where politicians and governments have shown time and time again that they’re interested in controlling our very basic choices.

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