Ian Calderon does not like plastic drinking straws.
So what, you say, it’s his prerogative, his choice?
Calderon is the Democratic majority leader of California’s lower house, and he has introduced a bill to prevent restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one.* Calderon issued an explanatory press release stating: “We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its (sic) detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans.”
Other California cities, such as San Luis Obispo and Davis, have already passed straws-on-request-only laws, and, in Seattle, Washington, food service businesses won’t be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils come July. The powerful anti-one-time-use straw lobby claims that Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day, a truly preposterous figure that absolutely no one can support, let alone verify, and that appears to have been plucked from someone’s nether regions. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Times threw its weight behind Calderon’s bill by endorsing straws-by-request-only policies via an editorial in which it also saw fit to caution readers that “repetitive sucking may cause or exacerbate wrinkles on the lips or around the mouth.” (Please insert your own joke here. This is California, after all).
Naturally, reusable straw manufacturers are pushing for a total ban on single-use straws and are lobbying for the adoption of laws that allow for only glass and steel straws to be used or disseminated. More moderate factions are willing to consider allowing citizens to suck on paper straws, since they are biodegradable, though eight times more expensive.
Under Assemblyman Calderon’s law, a waiter or waitress who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it could face up to 6 months of jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.
I knew “straw purchases” were illegal in terms of firearm sales (one person buying a gun and filling out the federal paperwork for another person), but I had no idea purchasing a straw would soon be, as well. Someday, in the not too distant future, there will be a black market for straws, a “straw cartel” will emerge, and straw prices will go through the roof. Informants will be lurking around every restaurant, malt shop, and bar, ready to turn in waitstaff and their “users.” A “tip line” will be established and public-service announcements will encourage citizens to stay vigilant.
Think of what we’re doing now. Try to wrap your minds around this: we’re legalizing the sale of marijuana, but criminalizing the use of straws. Sanctuary cities are refusing to report illegal aliens, but threatening to put waiters in jail for providing their customers an unrequested straw.
“Dude, what are you in here for?”
“Grand theft auto, aggravated assault, and homicide. You?”
“Unauthorized distribution of an inexpensive, single-use beverage accessory.”
“Dear God. Good luck, man.”
Update: Reason Magazine reports that a senior assistant to Calderon says he now intends to amend the bill to remove the fines. But not the jail time?
*Also see my post of June 18th, 2017: “Berkeley To Ban Plastic Straws”