Santa Barbara is edging out a handful of other California cities as the law and order leader in the ruthless campaign against plastic straw distribution. Waiters face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if caught handing out the tubes.
Love it or hate it, California is the home of innovators. While some of the brightest minds in the Golden State develop new ways to get rich, others make up fantastical laws. Now, California dreamin’ envisions a world where virtue signaling comes with the added pride of incarcerating your fellow man.
Plastic straws and utensils are being targeted in at least a half-dozen California cities, as well as progressive paragons Seattle and Portland up north, but Santa Barbara’s penalties are the most severe. Each straw, coffee stirrer, or other piece of plasticware counts as a separate offense, potentially adding up to years in jail.
This in a state where, as of 2016, over 202,000 people were being held behind bars. The Golden State’s caged population was around 10 percent of the nationwide figure, about the same number of inmates the federal government kept.
But all of this context amounts to alarmism, according to Santa Barbara’s Environmental Servies Outreach Coordinator, Bryan Latchford. The bureaucrat assured local station KEYT-TV that only second-time offenders would be prosecuted.
They Have Their Reasons
None of this is actually about turtles with straws up their noses. The environment isn’t really what virtue signalers care about, and even more obviously, it isn’t the true concern of the busybodies either. As San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai put it to the San Francisco Chronicle: “This is about changing people’s behavior.”
Santa Barbara’s trash and recycling agency recommends residents walk around with reusable straws as “part of your daily routine,” but sanity also has a voice, albeit one without legislative power.
Adam Minter at Bloomberg recalled that in 1990, consumer demand drove the three largest tuna companies in the world to stop netting dolphins. A similar campaign today by anti-straw activists and the environmentalist elite could push global seafood companies to mark fishing gear and nets, which make up most of the plastic pollution in oceans. Unfortunately, that would implicate fishers in Indonesia and other countries besides the intrinsically evil United States of America, which in fact is responsible for a fraction of a fraction of the plastic straws on ocean shores.