Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Road Rage

For all our talk about being the birthplace of modern parliamentary democracy, the liberal tradition, etc. etc., we really don't seem to be that fussed about civil liberties in Britain. We can be the most surveyed nation on the planet (probably) and all that worries anyone is that we're not linking the cameras sufficiently to the ASBO system. But as soon as someone wants to start surveying cars, everyone turns into fucking Braveheart, whining on about the dreadful threat to our traditional British love of freedom.

So it's not surprising that the only thing we ever take serious "industrial action" over any more is rising fuel prices. Which, if you're going to pick one issue to get shirty with the government over, seems to me a particularly fucking stupid one. Yes, we have a high fuel tax, but I really can't see the harm. In case you missed it, people, fuel is going to be getting more expensive whether or not the government taxes it. Cut the tax now and diesel will probably find it's way back to £1.20 a litre anyway. A "competitive economy" in the future is going to be one that can do more with less fuel, and the way to achieve that is not to start slashing prices at the pumps.

So here's a suggestion. How about the government starts ring-fencing its new found fuel-tax profits, and uses them to subsidise mass transit, R&D for alternative energy, and other fuel efficiency measures, while setting some aside to re-skill people in the affected industries?

Because, one way or another, we're going to have to get used to expensive fuel, and that is an honest-to-God plan for doing it. Cutting fuel tax and waiting for prices to rise again is just a way of prolonging the inevitable.


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