Okay. Let’s suppose, as Mark Binker suggests in this piece, that neither Marc Basnight, nor his colleagues, nor his party received any campaign contributions (or benefitted in any way from) for the wacky environmental provision in the budget that would create a veritable bottling monopoly for the producer of "biodegradable" bottles in Winston Salem. Public Choice analysis shows that, if you follow the money, somebody will be benefitting from these kinds of Bootleggers and Baptists relationships. But again: let us suppose for the sake of argument that Marc Basnight is driven purely by someone’s crazy idea of good intentions–perhaps even his own (which would be rare for a politician). Does such a move make economic sense?
How long and by what process does such a bottle biodegrade? If it’s 100 years, so what? How much more expensive is it for people to support this legislated monopoly? While Basnight might think that random powerplays based on economically backwards whims help his state, he’s almost always wrong compared to the market. In other words, in whatever he’s trying to achieve with this legislation (which is difficult to tell), it probably won’t work in the way he hopes and may even run counter to his intentions.
For example, is he hoping that there will be fewer plastic bottles in landfills? If so, why? Isn’t he creating an incentive for people to throw them away rather than recycling them? If ordinary bottles ever become worth anything (i.e. because petroleum prices are rising), people will mine landfills for those bottles. What about the petroleum use? Oil resins for plastic feedstocks aren’t used in our cars, so it wouldn’t effect the price of gas to any appreciable degree, if at all. If you start to look at WHY he’s doing this, there really isn’t any plausible theory–plausible from the standpoint of basic economics or environmental protection.
But then again, Marc Basnight has never cared about economics. He believes he can suspend market laws with the power of enlightened legislation. He’s wrong. (That’s why I suspect we should go back to following the money.)