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On Point: The fix is in the bag

The fix is in the bag.

The City Council is poised to enact a 10-cent surcharge on every plastic and paper bag we use to take our groceries home.

It is being proposed in the name of the “environment,” a pretext to justify imposing new taxes and fees on already tapped out New Yorkers. And if the recently installed speed “greed” cameras and next month’s bridge toll increases aren’t enough, this bill will surely shake out whatever loose change still remains in your pocket.

It’s just the latest assault on the wallets of everyday New Yorkers.

The plastic bag tax bill also includes paper bags, making it obvious that the bill is more about social engineering our bag using habits than reducing pollution.

Using the environment as an excuse to pluck every last dollar out of our pockets and squeeze the family budget is deceptive and unfair.

Want to change our habits? Try education instead of extrication and stop using us as guinea pigs for a City Council social engineering experiment.

The bill’s primary sponsors, Donovan Richards and Margaret Chin, are from the working class communities of southeast Queens and Chinatown where families struggle daily to pay rent and make ends meet.

The last thing they need is to pay for something that used to be free at the local grocery counter.

Many of the bills’ other supporters come from neighborhoods where shoppers walk to the local bodega and carry one or two grocery-filled plastic bags home.

Transitioning to reusable bags may be easy for these folks. For the rest of us who drive to the supermarket and shop once or twice a week and load ten to 20 grocery bags, some doubled, into a car, it’s simply impractical to carry enough reusable bags.

This legislation will add $300 to the average family’s annual grocery budget, money that families desperately need.

Perhaps Queens council members Vallone, Koo, Crowley, Constantides, Miller and Van Bramer will rethink their support for this bill that imposes these new costs on their constituents.

These council members should also consider that pushing individuals to use reusable bags that are often petroleum or lead based, simply trades one set of problems for another.

Most of us resourcefully reuse grocery store bags and keep them stashed in plastic bag receptacles until they’re needed again — as wastebasket liners, trash bags or for dog pick-up. They are not “single-use,” as proponents of the bill self-servingly claim.

The bill’s sponsors say there are no negative repercussions, yet have granted special exemptions for food stamp recipients, so as “not to impose a financial burden” on them, as they asserted in a recent op-ed piece they wrote in support of their legislation.

It was a stunning revelation acknowledging the negative financial impact of their bill. They may believe their bill is “eco-friendly,” but they can no longer deny that it is economically unfriendly.

The plastic bag tax bill will allow food stamp recipients to use as many bags as they wish cost-free, while taxpayers who provide the dollars that pay for food stamps will be taxed for each plastic or paper bag they use.

Two individuals on the same grocery line; one receives free plastic and paper bags while the other must pay. Is this the Tale of Two Cities DeBlasio had in mind?

This ideological crusade to micromanage the minutia of plastic and paper bag consumption is another example of the city’s misplaced priorities.

Our city is the heaviest taxed in the nation, yet it remains deeply in debt and facing budget crises in the years ahead.

It is ironic that our City Council works overtime to create regulations and petty annoyances in our daily lives while the serious work of budget reform and infrastructure repair is ignored.

Bob Friedrich is President of Glen Oaks Village and a Civic Leader

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