Plastic straws: New culture war symbol
President Trump has struck a major blow against “the nanny state and the tyranny of the paper straw,” said Brad Polumbo in WashingtonExaminer.com. In response to a spate of “paternalistic policies banning plastic straws” in liberal cities and states, the Trump campaign has begun hawking “red plastic straws with the Trump logo” on its website. The marketing slogan that accompanies the straws—“Liberal paper straws don’t work”—is both strategically clever and true. And while “$15 might sound like a bit much for 10 Trump-branded straws,” can we really put a price on liberty? It appears Trump is onto something, said Owen Daugherty in TheHill.com. His campaign says it sold 140,000 straws in the first four days they were available. Who knew this vast, untapped market for liberal-baiting plastic straws existed?
This is not just a culture war issue, said Neil Vigdor in The New York Times. Environmentalists have pushed for reusable straws made of metal or other hard materials, but in November, a 60-year-old disabled woman from England fell on a metal straw she was carrying and was fatally impaled. Some caregivers and advocates for the disabled “have voiced worries about the safety of rigid straws.” Oh, come on, said Mariel Garza in the Los Angeles Times. The British case was a “classic freak accident.” You could also die if you fell on a spoon or knife. You want to know what the real danger is? Americans use, and throw away, an estimated 170 million straws per day. While straws are just a small part of the “unholy amount” of plastic garbage that winds up in the ocean, “the bans have been useful to call the public’s attention to the problem of single-use plastic.”
No doubt about it: “Plastic straws are now an issue in the 2020 campaign,” said Christian Britschgi in Reason.com. For us libertarians, however, it’s sad that plastic straws—“once a noble symbol of resistance to government tyranny”—have been appropriated by Trump, “who thinks the Bill of Rights is just one more invoice he doesn’t have to pay.” Americans should side with the resistance to paper straws not “to win another battle in a toxic culture war” but because plastic straws are “unfairly maligned as an environmental menace.” Also, it’s much harder to drink iced coffee without one.
Photo illustration: Loren Talbot, Getty, screenshot ■