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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Green Taxes

Now I don’t know about you but I’ve always had an issue with so-called ‘Green’ taxes. To put it in the words of an old farming friend; “Oi may be grass coloured, but oi ain’t green.” (Rough vernacular translation; I may wear mucky green coveralls, but I am not so totally naïve as to believe that complete load of bollocks / cobblers / nonsense you’ve just come out with.)

Let’s take the most contentious, the petrol tax ‘escalator’ instituted in the 1990’s to encourage people to use their cars less. Does it seem to have done anything other than push up the cost of living? Not really, no. The roads are just as congested, public transport still inadequate, so where have the benefits been?

The only ‘Green’ legislation appearing to have done any good are the vehicle emission regulations and standards. Lower emissions, less pollution, cleaner air. It seems to work that way to me. Keeping the streets running clear helps a little too. Queues of stationary vehicles with their engines running are demonstrably more polluting than vehicles in motion as moving vehicles tend to burn fuel more efficiently. Which is where I generally come in, or try to.

Street clearance is easy, all I have to do is take a professional interest in the cars parked up along the side of the road on the restrictions, and as if by magic, they disappear, often in a puff of swear words, but they do disappear. When patrolling, it is very rare for me to book more than one out of five vehicles parked upon active restrictions. Especially in the centre of town. Boy, can they shift when they want to. Result, clear streets, fewer idling engines pouring out unnecessary pollutants because they can’t get by, and we can all breathe a little easier. That is my small contribution towards improving the air quality; at least in my town.

Which brings me full circle back to my issues with ‘Green’ taxes. What good do they do / have they done? Not much, apart from add to the UK tax burden is the answer. More funds into government coffers for big government to piss up the great wall of centralist wastefulness. At least that is the view from my small part of the shop floor. Petrol prices and fuel prices go up, my bills go up until ‘The pips squeak’. My pips have been squeaking so long, it’s a wonder they have anything left in them, squeaks notwithstanding.

Green taxes mean I need more money tomorrow to do the same things I had to do yesterday. Do these green taxes fund adequate research / investment into alternate means of transport? Do they provide decent public transport infrastructure that will allow me to get where I need to be? Is said public transport cheaper than running a car? Is that public transport more convenient than using a car? Not in my part of the country, no. All green taxes do is increase the cost of living and travelling.

As for the scheme in Richmond upon Thames to charge for parking permits based on vehicle size; said scheme will require at least two new members of council staff to administer (At least), who will have to get to work. Said new staff will need car parking places in the council office car park, and no doubt leave at half past five with all the other folk thus adding to the rush hour congestion / pollution in the streets. The people who can afford the more expensive cars in the first place will pay (Reluctantly, but they will pay) out of petty cash. No doubt they will raise their fees / rates to compensate so the cost to others rises. The cost of their living rises and so on and so on ad infinitum. It will not reduce pollution or congestion one iota.

My conclusions; higher emission standards and keeping the streets running freely works demonstrably; raising the cost of everything by taxing it to death doesn’t. The main problem is too many people trying to get to too many (few?) places at the same time (Every been in one of Oxford Circus’s notorious ‘people jams’?). Solution a) Stop / reduce people’s travelling altogether. Solution b) Stagger working hours across the whole country. Solution c) Mass genocide. All three are unworkable / unthinkable. A fourth solution is to put massive investment into an alternate (And publicly acceptable) layer of economic, environmentally friendly, and flexible transportation, and I don’t mean Teleportation; attractive though the thought of being disintegrated into one’s component atoms and reintegrated at the other end may seem.

Like anything sensible is going to happen. That would be too much to ask.


Anonymous Peter said...

Off topic:

Just to let you know that you missed the p in wordpress on the link to Outside the Lines

Thursday, October 26, 2006 9:41:00 am  

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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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