ACT Says Reusable Bags Kill – We Say Neoliberalism Does The Same


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One of the hallmarks of an ideology in its death-throes is the weird, inexplicable, and outright-ridiculous shapes it ties itself up in knots in in order to avoid confronting simple, basic truth.

We’ve already seen this countless times in the U.S, where to hear a right-wing nincompoop politician decry wind power because this apparently depletes a finite resource and leads to global warming – or, for that matter to suggest abortion in the case of rape is unjustified because the female body has ways of shutting the whole thing down – is becoming a depressingly common “reality”.

They do this, because they’re so rigidly ideologically inflexible that their brains (such as they are) will strive peerlessly to come up with all manner of stupendously stupid over-extensions of logic and inversions of fact for the simple and explicit purpose of defending their core values against reasonably couched challenge.

It’s despicable.

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And into this sorry pattern of phrasing-an-issue has ridden our very own Republican Party-lite weight, David Seymour.

Who’s presently claiming that reusable shopping bags will kill up to twenty New Zealanders a year.

Never mind the environmental, ecological – and ultimately, human health – costs from using and then discarding fossil-fuel derived plastics all over the place.

ACT’s ideology and its backers are fundamentally against sustainability and renewability.

They see it as a cost. An imposition on their unsustainable way of doing business. Pandering to namby-pamby airy-fairy quasi-hippy environmentalist concerns like cleaner societies and more responsible usage of finite resources.

Well y’know what?

If ACT is suddenly so VERY DEEPLY CONCERNED about the potential health risks and even untimely deaths that may result from us acting out OUR ideology – of sustainability …

… can I just, for a moment, raise the question of WHEN will they become similarly concerned about the health impacts and spiralling mortality rates from neoliberalism, and its unfair, unmandated imposition right here in New Zealand.

We’ve seen it at Pike River – where lax safety standards in the corporate world, and an underresourced Ministry of Works coagulated to kill Kiwis.

We’ve seen it at SERCO’s Mt Eden Prison – where cut-cost corporate practices conspire to produce a prison environment replete with fight-clubs and drug culture that’s HARDLY amenable toward rehabilitation of prisoners and their eventual reintegration as healthy members of society.

I could go on at some length listing specific ways in which the fundamentally fundamentalist more-market madness of the ACT Party has come together to RUIN LIVES if not rob them entirely over the last thirty years since the beginning of its imposition in our (formerly) fair land … but you get the point.

If ACT quite genuinely and seriously believes they’ve got evidence to support reusable bags killing people … I’ll listen.

But only provided they’re prepared to listen and take seriously OUR evidence that THEIR actions hurt us – as a society and as individuals – first.

Turns out that reusable political “principles” in a reusable “rotten borough” seat are FAR more deadly than mere recycling of bags.

It’s time we recognized that. And took action accordingly.


  1. It’s ACT giving a ‘nod’ toward a cleanr environment. But that’s all it is; a ‘nod’. They won’t support anything more practical like putting a tax on plastic bags and supporting more environmentally-friendly alternatives like compostible brown-paper bags.

    That would send “unfair market signals”.

    Not that “unfair market signals” upsets them when subsidies are handed out willy-nilly to charter schools, aluminium smelters, etc.

  2. It is not just ACT of course. The SERCO debacle is a classic example. If a government was really serious about having the prisons run efficiently and safely by a contracted-out provider they would come down hard on them when things go pear-shaped. Serious and meaningful fines would be applied, contracts shortened or curtailed and the company denied future business.

    But, we know what happens – lies are proffered, obfuscations strewn in front of ”investigations” (i.e, burying the problems until the scrutiny fades away), excuses made (as per article above) and no-one actually admits responsibility or culpability (a very NZ characteristic too). The National government, and ACT, don’t care – the ideology/dogma is the only thing. It doesn’t hurt them in the long run.

  3. Hehehee….Seymour is a dead ringer for Arnold Rimmer with the ‘ H ‘ for hologram on his forehead in that spaceship the Red Dwarf….and about as spaced out as well !!!

    I knew I’d seen that look before !!!

    Hahahaha !!!


  4. Why do we need any of these people or have we been brainwashed into believing we do?

    (NESARA) National Economic Security and Recovery Act is on its way (suppressed by George W. Bush, targeted and mocked by the banksters) is something for us to understand. Couple this information with the explanation “How to take care of ourselves without government explained” and we’ll be asking ourselves why do we need these people at all.

    If we are wise enough to vote a party into power, are we then too stupid to carry out ourselves the things we trust our untrustworthy politicians to do?

  5. To address the point – all our politician seem to be (re)used bags.
    Thanks 😀 I’m feeling better now.

  6. Although I feel somewhat uncomfortable with saying this, David Seymour is right in one sense about the plastic bags. People using plastic bags do have to be careful what they have been used for to prevent any contamination. But surely that is where common sense comes in. We used to get a lot of ads on TV about how to chill and store cooked meat like chicken to avoid such problems. Don’t see them much now but perhaps that is because its winter now.
    There is a role for plastic bags, but the number of bags that we use is totally excessive, and unnecessary. I have made a habit of saying “no bag please” when I go to a supermarket and just load the items back into a trolley and keep a supply of previously used bags in my car boot. I used to get my share of strange looks, particularly at New World where they seem to want to chuck each item in an individual bag.
    I would like to see a tax on plastic bags, although I know that will probably never happen under this government. I also like how the Warehouse and Pak’ Save charge extra for a bag, it must reduce the number of bags used.
    Just because I think Seymour has a point, it doesn’t mean I agree with him wholeheartedly. It could be convincingly argued that all plastic bags are dangerous, particularly to young children because of the risk of suffocation. In that case surely they should all be banned, if you carry Seymour’s logic through.
    I think David Seymour makes up policy as he speaks. And they call the Green Party idealists!!!

  7. I’d like to know, why are producers NOT required to have perishable packaging for perishable goods? There exists now all manner of bio-origin compostable plastics. Wishbone sandwiches wraps their stuff in a clear plastic cellulose made from potato starch, and you’d never even know by looking at it.
    Huge amounts of plastic clutter could be eliminated if the switch was made, and the economy of scale would reduce the cost to a trivial difference, may even be cheaper.

  8. Dear Mr Seymour

    Would private enterprise please address the results of its assistance to impulse shoppers (plastic bags) and stop passing on the problem to the planet.

    If it can’t – get out of the way. We don’t have time to spare for people who only seem to have a hammer and see everything as a ‘nail’.

  9. I must have missed something, but why, exactly, does David Seymour believe reusable bags kill people?

    • Hi Lilar,

      From the link, apparently studies (or at least one study) in the U.S. have shown that people have died from infections/food hygiene issues from reusable bags that have presumably bred bacteria.

      probably Seymour being highly selective both in choosing which study to cite and in not thinking about the broader effects of using reusable bags on health (e.g., reduction in use of chemicals used in production of plastic bags and their effect on occupational health).

      But he wouldn’t be the first or only person to be selective in these ways when it comes to research findings.

      To quote from the link provided in the post:

      Researchers at George Mason University and University of Pennsylvania linked a rise in E. coli infections and a 46 percent jump in death from foodborne illness to the plastic bag ban

  10. I say socialism kills, it’s a historical fact! Just look at all the millions of people killed last century by socialism i.e. Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pots Cambodia etc.

    • Stephen… Also America’s involvement in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia (which facilitated the rise of the Khmer Rouge), Laos, Latin America, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq…

      I’d say the West’s death toll in it’s wars since WW2 hasn’t been exactly stirling, has it? But then, it’s always a one-sided affair for your cheerleaders of American imperialism.

      • Americas involvement in Korea, you mean the United Nations force the repulsed the North Korean invasion of South Korea? Hardly American imperialism. Maybe you should read a bit more about history then you would realise what a failure socialism is.

    • They were not socialist regimes. They were communist regimes. You right-wingers are all alike in that you cannot tell the difference between socialism and communism, and there is a big difference.

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