How Public Policy Shapes Life

Public policy is powerful. Public policy shapes our daily actions more than we realize. There are also results that are not always foreseen by the policymakers.

Take the experience of shopping for instance. Recently, the county we live in passed a decree that forbade businesses from doling out plastic bags. We could buy one for 10c if really wanted, but the idea was to encourage more environment friendly bags.

Where before, people were before doing their shopping in the most organized manner possible and sometimes preferring to finish up their grocery alone, the recent public policy of no plastic bags and charging 10c for the bags has increased family togetherness.

I walk into stores and I see large families shopping together. There is a sea change I tell you. The change is best explained in the check-out lanes where the harassed looking clerks ask you whether you would like a bag for 10c and you look him in the eye and say, “No Siree! No I don’t. You see I have 5 children of my own and I offered to babysit three of my neighbors. Then, I just borrowed a bus and came grocery shopping!”

There is a look of utter disbelief on the clerk’s face. The table is full of groceries and the customers have no bags! This is when the customers stoop in with a bugle call to the children, “So Ed, Louis, Dennis and Menace pick up the bread, milk, meats and sauces. Don’t hold the eggs and yogurt in one hand Millie! Tie a string around the goat cheese and hang it around the baby’s neck. Anne, do you have the pastas? Good! Whose that child? Does she belong to our party?”

“Yes Father.”
“Well…come here then and lend a hand with the ice creams young lady.” Nobody is spared. The produce is collected and the family outing is done without spending a dime on bags.


That is economy.

PS: I like the idea of no plastic bags, and marvel at how a simple policy can change people into bringing their own bags. The environmental awareness was the same before, yet the implementation of the policy made all the difference.

4 thoughts on “How Public Policy Shapes Life”

  1. It is amazing how such a small policy decision can make such an huge impact. It is also bit scary how much power these policy makers have and I hope they do it for a good reasons.

  2. “Dennis and Menace” – LOL.

    Some stores here offer for free cardboard cartons in which they got their original produce to customers to lug their groceries.

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