Using the Environment as a Weapon

State Sen. Simcha Felder (L) surrounded by other state legislators, at a press conference earlier this year against the New York City bag fee. (Yosef Caldwell/Hamodia)
State Sen. Simcha Felder (L) surrounded by other state legislators, at a press conference earlier this year against the New York City bag fee. (Yosef Caldwell/Hamodia)

In his book Up From Liberalism, William F. Buckley illustrated how the leading liberals of his day, in their speeches and statements and the premises that underlined their words and actions, clearly suffered from obvious social and philosophical prejudices. And that was only the 1950s. Over the last half century, left-leaning progressive liberals have lived down to Mr. Buckley’s expectations.

Part of their game is name calling. Another part is painting their opponents (i.e., anyone who disagrees with them) with a broad brush, putting words in their mouths and, ultimately, using misdirection in an attempt to create a false image of what their opponents stand for.

My recent run-in with these charlatans resulted from my taking a stance on the Bag Tax. As many of you will no doubt recall, the City Council — under the guise of an environmental initiative — attempted to force a nickel tax on every carry-out bag in the city. Why not a dime? Or a quarter? Because they didn’t think they’d get away with it. Yet. So the nickel tax (for now) was acceptable to the mayor and enough members of the council. But it wasn’t acceptable to New Yorkers. And it certainly wasn’t acceptable to my constituents, who made their voices loud and clear. Many of my colleagues, who also represent residents throughout the five boroughs, heard the same objections and joined me in the fight.

Does this mean most members of the Senate and the Assembly want to hurt the environment? No one in their right mind really thinks that. We all care about the planet and want to be good stewards. We simply saw through the ruse that pretended that adding yet another regressive tax to New Yorkers would help the environment. We understood that the Bag Tax was no different than a BIG Soda ban in its pomposity and pretentiousness.

My efforts had several results. The first was an overwhelming victory in the Senate for our anti-Bag Tax legislation, and an anticipated victory in the Assembly that forced the City Council to postpone the tax, which was slated for October, so it could be revisited next year.

The second result was the “Oil Slick Award,” which an environmentalist group has now bestowed upon me with all the public fanfare that the not-for-profit organization could muster. Each year, the Oil Slick Award — an insult of the highest order when hurled by those on the far left — is reserved for the legislator this group hates most. I’m told no one else even came close.

So I am pleased to accept this award. And I do so on behalf of all New Yorkers who care about the environment as much as anyone else, but won’t be fooled by hidden agendas that are, let’s be honest, the farthest thing from Green.