Dave Simpson: Pry That Plastic Bag From My Cold, Dead Hands

Columnist Dave Simpson writes, "Here in Wyoming, we shake our flat heads in disbelief at states where you can shoplift at will, where violent people get turned right back out on the street, and where you can pitch a tent on a city sidewalk and pee in the gutter as long as you like."

Dave Simpson

August 26, 20234 min read

Simpson with dog 5 22 23

One of the best reasons to live in Wyoming is that we tend to be a level-headed bunch.

Here in Wyoming, you can avoid the Birkenstock-wearing Save the World types if you avoid liberal enclaves like Jackson Hole and Laramie. The pointy-headed intellectuals among us, in the words of Merle Haggard in “Okie from Muskogie,” “are seldom seen.”

The only thing pointy about most of us is the tips of our boots, not the tops of our heads. A simple carpenter's level could probably prove that our noggins are more level than most.

We shake our flat heads in disbelief at states where you can shoplift at will, where violent people get turned right back out on the street without posting cash bond, and where you can pitch a tent on a city sidewalk and pee in the gutter as long as you like. (The weather here helps with that last one.)

So it is with surprise that I see that Cheyenne's city council apparently wants to save the world by banning plastic shopping bags, and maybe charging us despoilers of the earth 7 to 10 cents per bag for the environmental infraction of putting our cans of pinto beans in a free plastic bag.

The lesser level heads among us somehow conclude that plastic bags are always “single use,” when some egghead somewhere did a study that showed that 77 percent of plastic bags are not single use at all, and get used again.

That's the case at our house, where the plastic bags get wadded up and shoved in a kitchen cabinet, then put to use lining waste baskets, cleaning up wet spills, and carrying multiple items like books headed back to the library, or groceries headed to the cabin.

We are not single-use plastic bag people.

My concern over this potential plastic bag ban in Cheyenne is that they are going to screw up one of the most impressive technological wonders of our time: the ability to get in and out of Walmart in a few minutes, using the self check-out stations.

I was against self check-out initially, figuring I would put grocery store clerks out of work, and that was probably true. Today, you only see a few traditional grocery checkers at Walmart, for the late-adopters, and people with small kids.

But since I finally figured out how to check out vegetables at the self check-out stations, there has been a lot less waiting in lines at the grocery store. Even when there's a line of shoppers, the line moves fast, because we all want to get checked out and on with out lives as quickly as possible.

 But, if the Cheyenne City Council bans those free plastic bags, I'll have to bring my own bags for my cans of pinto beans, or buy them.

And guess who absorbs the added cost of all this: Us. As usual.

This comes at a time when the pointy-headed intellectuals are nipping at our heels on multiple fronts. Washing machines and dishwashers ain't what they used to be, thanks to the do-gooders.

They want to outlaw the gas stoves in our kitchens, after we paid extra for the gas line because we like gas stoves. They want to make all new cars electric over the next 10 years, even though nobody knows where the extra electricity is going to come from.

Try buying a traditional light bulb today. Can't do it.

 And the news this week is that they're going after our ceiling fans, making them more expensive and probably less effective.

In closing, the plastic bags at Menards are the best around. So I save them out in the garage, and put them to re-use when I clean up the back yard after our Labrador Retriever (the Cadillac of Dogs), Mitch. (A big job, so to speak.)

And I  laugh when I put a big bag of poop in the trash around Christmas, when the message on the bag is “Season's Greetings!”

Merry Christmas to the garbage truck guys.

Let's hope leveler heads prevail at the Cheyenne City Council, and they don't have to pry our free plastic bags out of our cold, dead hands.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.