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Stop making laws about it, abruti

Summary:
There is little we can do here except shake our heads in wonder at the fools just across the Channel. This goes beyond goofy and is accelerating through half-wittedness:A law banning plastic packaging for large numbers of fruits and vegetables comes into force in France on New Year’s Day, to end what the government has called the “aberration” of overwrapped carrots, apples and bananas, as environmental campaigners and exasperated shoppers urge other countries to do the same.Emmanuel Macron has called the ban on plastic packaging of fresh produce “a real revolution” and said France was taking the lead globally with its law to gradually phase out all single-use plastics by 2040.This does, specifically, include cucumbers. Which is something of a problem. One hand of the argument is that the

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There is little we can do here except shake our heads in wonder at the fools just across the Channel. This goes beyond goofy and is accelerating through half-wittedness:

A law banning plastic packaging for large numbers of fruits and vegetables comes into force in France on New Year’s Day, to end what the government has called the “aberration” of overwrapped carrots, apples and bananas, as environmental campaigners and exasperated shoppers urge other countries to do the same.

Emmanuel Macron has called the ban on plastic packaging of fresh produce “a real revolution” and said France was taking the lead globally with its law to gradually phase out all single-use plastics by 2040.

This does, specifically, include cucumbers. Which is something of a problem.

One hand of the argument is that the use of plastic is, by modern mores, evil. So, there’s that of course.

The other hand is that such plastic sleeves prolong the life of a cucumber which is why they’re used. As Morrisons, who actually do such sheathing, point out:

In actual fact, a cucumber has a “best before” life of 3 days – which film can increase almost 5 times over, to 14 days. This is because a cucumber is 96% water, which it begins to lose as soon as it is picked. After 3 days, it has lost so much water that it becomes dull, limp and unsellable. Wrapping it in just 1.5 grammes of plastic film extends its quality dramatically .

Ah. We are in the standard space of life where there’s not actually a solution there’s merely that set of trade offs. Limp cucumbers that are thrown away or firm and long lasting but using plastic. That plastic working as the sildenafil rather than merely the sheath perhaps.

There is no “right” answer as to whether the plastic wrapping should be used or not, it depends upon whether one is trying to save plastic wastage or cucumber wastage.

Except we have the third and gripping hand of our argument. Which is, well, what’s it all about then? This idea of having an economy, a civilisation, the aim is that just ordinary folks have more of what they want. By definition this is making them richer. We can also note that what folks want varies. A system which allows variance will therefore be able to provide more of those folks with more of the varied things they desire to have - variance allows increased richness that is.

At which point the not just silliness but stupidity of laws on the subject become apparent. Some will value the lower food waste costs of sheathed cucumbers. Other will feel righteous for not having wasted 1.5 grammes of dead dinosaur as they throw away that dried husk of cucumer sativus.

Human utility is maximised by allowing producers to vary their practices to meet the varied desires of their consumers. Rather, really, the point of a market economy in fact.

If only French officialdom had a phrase with the meaning of chacun à son goût to hand, or something even approximating it.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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