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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Reasons to Emigrate part 1

Ever get the feeling that we in the UK are being mugged? Mrs S and I were checking out the current average gasoline prices in the USA and Canada to cost out a fly / drive trip we’re planning for next year. Lowest average Gasoline price for unleaded premium in Texas at retail prices currently works out at £1.07 a US gallon. Not a litre - a gallon; which means that when you pay around 85 pence per litre in the UK, you are paying roughly £3.21 per US Gallon or £3.86 per Imperial Gallon. Do the sums and it works out at 45 pence per litre.

Prices vary from state to state, but 50 pence per litre in the USA is considered a high price. Ouch. I can only just about remember when petrol was that price in the UK, over twenty years ago. From what I can make out around 70% of the average UK petrol price goes straight to the government as tax. Ouch two.

Let me do a few sums on that. At 85 pence per litre we as a family currently purchase a full tank of petrol (Around 45 litres) every two weeks just for my wife to commute to work and back with occasional shopping round trips of less than ten miles. I walk or use public transport. Same for the kids. This currently costs us £38.25. The total tax on this works out at about £26.77, the actual cost of the petrol before tax being £11.47. Based upon the mileage we do, we are comparatively light users of motor vehicles. Most commutes are on this basis. Now multiply these figures by the number of vehicles used to do short to medium commutes when there is no convenient public transport link available (As is so often the case in Britain). According to the department of transport, the average travel by car per individual is 7508 miles per year. Making the assumption that average short cycle commute (Journeys of 7-8 miles each) fuel economy is around 35 mpg, this should give a figure of 214 gallons of fuel per year, per person driving, which gives us the figure of just over 975 litres of fuel each. At 85p per litre, that’s £828.75 each in fuel. Now chop 30% of that figure out (Actual fuel cost) which means you pay £248.63 for the fuel and £580.12 in tax per year. Now multiply that by 30 million (The number of taxed and legal cars on UK roads). How much do we shell out in tax on petrol alone? £17,403,600,000. Almost £17.5 billion. That’s a healthy chunk of public money, even if it does only amount to less than half a percent of the total. See here for the public spending pie chart for 2005/06. Vehicle excise licences on cars alone raises about £4.2 billion. £21.5 billion for cars alone; never mind goods vehicles and motorcycles. That’s over a fifth of the NHS budget, or two thirds of the UK’s Defence budget. Don’t ask me what the 130 billion is listed as ‘other’, and the idea that we are shelling out a grand total of £172 billion on Social Services and benefits catches my breath. £302 billion, which is almost two thirds of UK national Government spending. Holy kablooie Batman! That’s a whole pile of money!

There is a saying I think from the Godfather by Mario Puzo, that “One man with a briefcase can steal more money than a hundred men with guns”.

I’m not saying anything more, work the rest out for yourselves. It’s Valentine’s Day and my wife and I are off to have a nice civilised meal for two.

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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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