By Kyle | August 18, 2010
A classic Wall Street Journal story (a funny one, or a-hed) investigates the (KRRRUNCH!) saga of the newfangled (RRRRIP!), enviro-friendly, rapidly biodegradable but unfortunately “louder than my cockpit” new packaging for Sun Chips. Amusing as the story is (it includes the story of an embarrassed fourth grader in Alaska whose snacking caused her teacher to admonish her, “Please try to open your bag more quietly, Mackenzie”), it’s also an important one. Why? Because Sun Chip sales are falling. Says one 44-year-old woman, “you want to snack quietly and you don’t want everyone in the house to know you are eating chips.” If sales keep falling (despite a lame attempt to make the bug a feature with shelf signs reading, “This is what change sounds like”), the biodegradable bag is going to be sent to the great landfill of disastrous marketing ideas.
So this story underlines what ought to be obvious: Americans don’t want cap-and-trade. They don’t want Pigouvian taxes. They don’t want to pay for windmills and solar if they cost more than coal and gas. They don’t even want a chip bag that crinkles. They may tell the pollsters they’re devout members of the Church of Green, but when the collection plate comes around they find they have nothing in their pockets but lint. Policymakers would do well to heed the lesson: Talk green all you want. Don’t expect anyone to pay for it.