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back to article The 'green' car tax grabs that don't add up

Alistair Darling has missed his big chance to show that he's both serious about climate change and that he understands the arguments. He's delayed the previously announced 2p per litre rise in fuel duty and then added that it will rise 0.5 p per litre each year thereafter. This simply isn't acceptable, it's putting us all at …

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Black Helicopters

....Pah!

but he was always going to hike up taxes on popular things, because of the shortfall that Brown produced over the last few years.. Cutting it back will just great a massive shortfall.

personally, I think the budget has become a "fudge-it". This wasn't really a good budget, more of a very weak one.

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Flawed analysis

Tim - your analysis is completely flawed. You make the assumption that the only reason to have fuel tax is to try to prevent climate change. Its not - there was already fuel tax before anyone had ever heard of climate change for issues to do with attempting to ration road use to prevent detrimaental effects on the real environment due to car use - i.e. making car drivers pay something towards the real time external costs of car use.

In order to calculate the correct level of taxation under your analysis you would need to add the further taxation needed to pay for climate change objectives to the existing taxation.

Now stop posting complete garbage.

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Paris Hilton

Get a motorbike

I travel a stretch of the M6 ever day to work and back and usually 10 miles plus is queuing car traffic with bored car drivers sitting inside them. I glide down the middle of the queues.

Forget the "Green message" people are happy to sit in the traffic every day and no shouting about the environment is going to change peoples habits (Yes im sure someone will tell me there is no alternative, really? I found one).

My bike is cheaper to run than any "Green" car and all my parking is free, tax is low, plus my ride to work everday is an adventure, its damn good fun!

Paris? You know what i'm talking about with your filthy minds...

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Anonymous Coward

In a perfect world perhaps, but...

This is only valid if the CO2 pricing is applied to all CO2. Since it isn't and the budget didn't change that the current shortage has to be made up somewhere - and with a ready infrastructure available for collecting it cars are as good a place to start as anywhere.

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Black Helicopters

Wow!!!

Really? Tax should be lower on fuel to offset the environmental impact?

Whoa.

Next we'll find out that the tax increases on tobacco and alcohol every year don't actually do much about reducing consumption, and are more about raising easy cash to cover expense accounts and white elephant pet projects like ID Cards and ill-thought-out and unnecessary computer systems...

<-black helicopters emit no emissions, that's why the government uses them to crack down on dissenters.

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minor point

or perhaps not...anyway, have you included the extraction/refining/distribution carbon costs of getting the petrol from the ground to your car? Also, the carbon cost of actually making the car in the first place?

I suspect the number looks slightly different if you do the full sums and not just a part of them. Having said which, since the funds aren't ringfenced to actually do something about climate change they are just an excuse for the governemnt to raise extra taxes anyway.

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False assumption

This whole thing rests upon the idea that the government are using tax increases to achieve their environmental goals. They're not.

They're using their environmental goals to achieve tax increases.

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Paris Hilton

But...

... don't we also have to consider that if taxation were an effective tool, it would also mean that people would stop a particular action altogether, thus reducing the amount of tax collected, thus making that tax pretty pointless and showing it for what it really is... another lie.

It is currently not a morally unacceptable thing to emit large quantities of CO2 in excess of that amount that the surrounding natural and man-made mechanisms can soak it up and deal safely with it keeping all things in balance.

If the government were truly against high CO2 emissions then they would be moving us to being morally against them.

Of course where money is concerned, morals do not follow, so big business will always ignore these tax hikes and either pay them or find a way round them while keeping on the high emissions.

The result being that the little guys end up paying over the odds and seeing no benefit. Darling could have added £1 a litre to fuel and it would not have amde a jot of difference to the amount of CO2 in broad terms. But the average Joe would no longer be able to get to work etc...

It is a real shame that we have such a weak governament in the UK. They could do so much yet really are just a wolf in sheep's clothing and will always seek to raise taxes to control the little guy.

Next chance you get, vote anyone but Labour, Tory or Lib Dem. They are just looking after each other and until we get real change that brings people into power with the foresight to make beneficial change then we are nowhere near solving the problem.

Paris Hilton, cause i'm sure she'd like erm... like wanna see all the erm... dolphins live in like harmony with all the like erm chickens...

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Pirate

I agree

think you got the 'fruticake' description right first time.

If that had more references to kool aid, Apple bashing and random capitalisations, I'd think Webster himself had written it.

I think I'll go and lie down for a while now.

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Bronze badge

The author misunderstands the entire point in a “green tax”

The whole point of taxing non-green emissions is NOT just to cover the costs, but to REDUCE those emissions

What the author advocates is juut a way of allowing someone with cash, the ability to be as greedy as they like.

Are you telling me that just because someone can afford the "fiscal value" of their Co2 emissions that they should be allowed to "use up their quota"

You talk about the future with a waterlogged Weymouth, I would LOVE to hear the people of that furtures views on the author of this rubbish, and of our warped values in general.

The views in this article show very clearly how humantiy have come to be in the situation they are now, rather than take responsiblity for our actions, we live in a childish, blinkered world of "more now, me, me, me, pay later"

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Unhappy

@Pah!

Quite agree. The money has to come from somewhere to pay for the dubious war effort so one way or another someone will have to pay. So it might as well come from fuel duty.

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Go

Bang on...

@Steve: You beat me to it by 6 minutes! :)

Totally agreed.

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Stop

Cars

The main problem with cars isn't the people they kill in Bangladesh and the polar bears: it's the people they kill and maim here and now (equivalent to one 9/11 every year in the UK, or seven jumbojet crashes). It's a ridiculous method of transport in its present form and if it were being designed from scratch would never get past the first design review.

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Anonymous Coward

a refreshing look at this whole climate change thingy

Great article. You just gotta love economists ability to put a price on everything.

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Linux

Raising Fuel Duty affects everyone.

It does not matter if you are a car nut with 10 parked in the drive or a tree hugging enviro-nut who bicycles everywhere. The rise in fuel duty will affect everyone.

You do not get groceries by having everything grown next door. The stores have to have it all delivered and if the price of fuel increases then so will the transport cost which will be passed on to the consumer in higher grocery bills.

Go to high street to buy new clothes and you will have to pay more there as well as they have higher transport costs.

Public transportation will also have to go up to help hedge the rising cost of fuel.

Utilities will go up as the companies will have higher prices for the fleets of company cars and vans which mean higher bills each month.

Raising fuel duty will not slow down or stop environmental damage. That is a mute excuse used by uneducated people.

First thing to do is to get the illegal vehicles off the road.

Then start actually doing something to help bring out fuel effecient cars, and alternative fuel cars.

Raising these taxes is just another way for the pigs on Capital Hill, Washington DC, or Westminster to get richer by ripping off the public.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Flawed analysis

Have you heard of Road Tax?

I'm not entirely sure what "real time external costs of car use" means, but we're either talking about the environment in which case there's fuel tax, or the road infrastructure in which case there's road tax.

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Anonymous Coward

It's never as simple as the free market ideal...

Hmm, so it doesn't matter what the taxes are spent on, only that the polluter has paid someone? So the chelsea tractor pays for us to build new schools and hospitals, and that makes it alright that Bangladesh slips underwater?

This is the fundamental mistake that so many laissez-faire zealots make after reading the Ladybird edition of The Wealth of Nations, the assumption that increasing global GDP is an absolute equivalent for increasing the sum of human happiness and welfare, rather than just a strong contributory factor, one that must be tempered with considerations of distribution of wealth and the utility of money to produce a fair, humane global economic system. Free market fundamentalism is every bit as dangerous as totalitarian socialism.

And from a purely economic perspective, high fuel taxes play an interesting role in reducing our national exposure to volatility in global oil prices, and providing a path away from the implications of peak oil that the market may well not be adequately pricing into the forecasts that drive their strategy...

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Bronze badge

True, But

"Its not - there was already fuel tax before anyone had ever heard of climate change for issues to do with attempting to ration road use to prevent detrimaental effects on the real environment due to car use"

True, but, the other costs, road building, noise, particularates, congestion, are more than adequately covered in the other 30-35 p a litre that is paid in fuel duty.

I'm talking solely about the marginal taxation imposed, so we are told, to cover CO2-e emissions.

"They're using their environmental goals to achieve tax increases."

Well, yes, but then everyone who reads this site is intelligent enough to make that connection without my needing to state it explicitly.

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@Mark

"In order to calculate the correct level of taxation under your analysis you would need to add the further taxation needed to pay for climate change objectives to the existing taxation."

Read the article properly before you post. The point he is making is that the level of taxation necessary to pay for climate change has ALREADY been added to the existing taxation, in the form of the fuel duty escalator, which has raised fuel prices by double the 11p required.

Now, I don't agree with that entirely - as I recall, the fuel duty escalator was introduced as much to deal with the costs of congestion and non-CO2 pollution as climate change. Consequently, you'd have to try and work out how much of that tax rise was ostensibly imposed to address climate change and how much was imposed to address congestion. (Although from the point of view of reducing the demand for fuel, it doesn't really matter why the tax was imposed). But his essential point is still valid. The Stern Report doesn't support the government's assertion that major increases in fuel duty may be needed to fight climate change, and the people of this county need to be aware of that.

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@Steve and Mark

I think you missed the point of this article.

The chancellor claims that his fuel tax rises are to offset the emissions caused by using that fuel. This article shows that he is either wrong with his figures, confused, or (shock horror) lying. I vote for "all of the above".

There may be many good reasons to hike the fuel duty - it's just that the reason being quoted is false.

Oh, and for those of you saying that every other source of pollution needs to be added to this duty - you need to understand the whole "polluter pays" idea is that each person or organisation that emits CO2 (or equivalent) pays for exactly what they have emitted. The pollution caused by refining fuel needs to be paid by the refineries (who can then pass it on down the line). The pollution caused by making a car needs to be paid by the manufacturers (or worst case the importers if the car is made in a country that does not use "polluter pays").

I'm not saying that I approve of these ideas, just that when a chancellor claims to be using them to calculate tax rates they better add up correctly, otherwise I will think he is lying.

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Paris Hilton

Its not economics

The problem with your argument is that it is based on economics, i.e. that the tax should pay for the damage done and so everything balances.

However, (in my opinion at least), balance isn't necessary. The purpose of the tax is to deter use and prevent the damage in the first place, and it doesn't matter if it costs more to do so than the costs of the damage that would occur. Because even though the economists (and you) may think you can put a price on a life, you can't. And global warming will cost lives.

If you think you can put a price on a life, tell me how much. I will give you the money and then kill you.

Paris, because even she has more of a clue than you.

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They need this money...

I agree with the writer that they are charging us more already. But they need this money for wars. War is an expensive business and we all have to pay. Otherwise Blair and Bush will not be able to test new technologies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if they manage to win these countries then we will be ok for oil from Iraq and Gas from ex russian states through Afghanistan.

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Steve's right

Labour tax things that they know you can't (and perhaps shouldn't) do without. I look forward to their new taxes on "unhealthy" foods. They carre not one jot about the green things, apart from spinning it so they get re-elected by nicking socialists from the Green party. The margins on elections are so tight you need to appeal to the borderline fruitcakes. If they said that they'd recoup the money through getting rid of bloat and their stupid credits and things that cost more to administer than they save maybe they'd be more credible. If they cared about the environment there'd be fast, efficient public transport. They've had ten years and they've done fuck all about that.

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How to lie with Statistics?

This article makes no sense as taxation is not just about the environment.

Most people refer to Vehicle Excise Duty as "Road Tax" in the mistaken assumption that the money paid is then spent on the road system (it's not).

The trouble with fuel pricing is that increases adversely affect* inflation, so delaying the duty increase probably has more to do with making the inflation figures look better than anything environmental.

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Flame

Folks - it's there in the byline

' He is a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.'

Maybe not a name familiar to our younger readers, but these are the fine folks who brought us the poll tax, the internal market in the NHS and - you're going to love this - rail privatisation. Not content with those great ideas, ASI have also proposed privatising Royal Mail, ending free libraries and scrapping arts subsidies. Generally if something is a basic bedrock of decent society, Adam Smith is in favour of either eliminating it as a sign of socialism or flogging it off at a discount to the highest (Conservative voting) bidder.

So an article from Adam Smith proposing a tax cut for the richer part of society - how very unusual.

One question, why is El Reg suddenly posting so many - shall we be kind? - counter-arguments - against anthropogenic global warming? It'd help if any of them were posted by (oooh let's be radical) meteorologists, climatologists or geologists, but instead we get dreadful pieces authored by ex-Navy divers and people who think they know about the price of gold.

If this is now editorial policy for the Reg, may I, as a geologist, offer to op-ed a compulsive article about the next Milan fashion show?

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Stop

motorbikes

haha yeah motorbikes are green??? What is the mpg on a motorbike.. about the same as a small car, so hardly green, add that to the inability to keep to the speed limit, the level of noise and the aimless riding around every weekend, I would prefer every motorbike was in the crusher!

My obvious bias is because I've lived in Hampshire and Surrey and every weekend you get dozens of loosers just driving around for no reason, when they should be at home working on their relationship with their wife and kids!

One can only hope the lobby groups in europe, bank rolled by the US, will one day be kicked into touch! Yeah we really need Harley Ds in this crowded country.. selfish knob jockeys

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Heart

Hardy ha ha.

An excellent article, and how typical to see the usual El Reg enviro rent-a-quote gobs lining up to have a pop.

If the cost of the damage done by CO2 ammounts to $85 per tonne emitted then paying any more than that is simply unfair.

And as Tim says - the government's own guy said that, not Tim himself.

Congrats again Tim!

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Bronze badge

What about all the other power...

OK - let's take on the principle that we should have usage-negative taxing on CO2 emissions (this is we tax all CO2 emission on the same basis whether it's used for heating, airline travel, industrial production etc.) then you'd have to deal with the increased pricing in those areas. Assuming that $85 per tonne is the "right" number (and I doubt that there's) a simple calculation, then for the average UK household you would see something liek the following :-

Approximately £90 per year extra on electricity bills

Approximately £180 per year on gas bills

Expect that airline trip to cost a more - it would add about £100 to a return flight to New York from the UK.

It doesn't stop there - much more energy gets used outside the home (industry, offices, farms, fertiliser etc.) and these would act as input costs into things that are bought.

Certainly it makes sense to me to adopt a usage-independent based pricing scheme if the aim is to drive the most cost-effective behaviour, but bear in mind that such an approach will have some huge social consequences. It will bear particularly hard on those who are not currently carrying their share of the CO2 burden (as they are "subsidised" in part by road users).

That's not to say I don't think it is a good idea. It would be much more rational and presumably the social issues could be dealt with. However, some people will lose out and people shouldn't expect such a change will necessarily mean that they will be better off, just because of a reduction in road fuel costs - it could be very easily outweighed by increases in other area.

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Alert

Weymouth - Flooding in a couple of centuries.

Hmm Interesting, wonder why the author chose Weymouth as his example.

If he is talking about the one in Dorset, where I live, then his timing is way out.

Some years ago the Council raised the harbour walls by 2 -3 feet to prevent flooding in the streets around the harbourside.

On Monday (the day of the gale) the water came within a gnats knacker of overtopping the new walls. The gales coincided with a spring tide.

There was some flooding, due to seawater percolating up through the drains, and some roads were unpassable.

I would suggest that it is not going to be centuries before Weymouth is under water more like decades...!

All hands to the pumps icon as thats what we'll need to do.

PS I live up a hill and will have an exclusive island to look down on the poorer mortals swimming for their lives.

Problem is all the shops and utilities are at the bottom of the hill...... :-(

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Unhappy

What's the logic behind the Stearn Report?

I could understand it if the government was going to give Bangladesh the cash for flood defences or Polar Bear breeding programs, but it's not.

The money just goes into the general pot for building more coal powerstations, ect

As far as I can see it's a tax on being bad, like Alcohol and Tobacco, no different.Otherwise the tax would have to apply to power generators and Farmers and anybody else that produces greenhouse gasses.

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Re: motorbikes (@FlatSpot)

My bike gets 100-120mpg and is reasonably quiet (a Honda CD250U). I keep to the speed limit and I use it primarily to commute. During my journey on my two-seat 200kg vehicle I see hundreds upon hundreds of selfish knob jockeys like yourself, one to a car, turning the roads into car parks and averaging 10mph (and probably 20mpg. max), 5 metres at a time. On average two to three times a week one of these blundering idiots, usually mid phone call, tries to kill me by looking the wrong way while heaving his lurching land zeppelin around with all the ease and grace of an elephant on LSD.

So up yours. If I go out for a weekend burn what's it to you? I still use far less fuel than you and am many times less likely to kill a fellow road user or pedestrian.

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Mike's Right!

The Adam Smith Institute and its luminaries make the stereotypical 'swivel-eyed' loonies look positively benign. Only the most ridiculously ignorant and stupid politicians have implemented their crackpot schemes: Mike points some of these out.

Wheras 'Economics' aspire to being 'scientific', the ASI and its fellow travellers have a religious fervour akin to the Taliban, or possibly Scientolgists when it comes to promolgating their free market views. In their own comfy virtual reality the 'market' is both all powerful and all wise: everything is simple and straightforward. I make or grow something, you want to buy it, the price is determined solely by supply and demand. If the price is too low, I stop making widgets or growing corn and move into doofers or growing hash....

OOOps but ther's the rub. I'm not "allowed" to grow hash, because it isn't just the 'market' operating here. And of course calculating some arbitary number that represents the 'ideal' in terms of CO2 costs ignores all the contextual factors surrounding that issue too. In the 'real world' (their favourite phrase when slagging socialist etc. as I recall) markets are always constrained by other factors, and never, ever, free. Like most right-wing 'philosophising' the ASI's pitch is just too simplistic; it has an appeal that convinces superficially until one considers how it might work in practice.

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Ridiculous

On my part this is somewhat hypocritical because I do drive, but the idea that you can 'pay' for the damage you do to the environment is ridiculous. It's like saying it's ok to burn down someone's house so long as you can pay for it afterwards. Fine for an economist, but nonsense in real terms. Sod the actual maths; both the government and the article writer have got it wrong.

The government is wrong because whilst it is appropriate to disincentivise (sp?) people from using fossil fuels and damaging the environment, but ALTERNATIVES MUST BE PROVIDED.

The article writer is wrong because if the government is trying to do what it states, ie: reduce the effect and progression of man-made climate change then working out what should be paid in relation to the value of what is physically lost is crazy talk.

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Paris Hilton

How much Co2-e

tonnage would we save per year if we just shot all the polititians?

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Re: motorbikes

Its not just motorcyclists that drive around for recreation... even car drivers do it...

Difference is that a motorbike can beat congestion most of the time, a car can't it just get stuck in it.

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Stop

"Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute"

I missed that byline initially, but now the article makes sense!

The Adam Smith Institute recently published a report saying Fairtrade is wrong, and leaving coffee growers and the like to the free market is the best thing for them, failing to note that its the free market that caused the social and economic deprevation in the producing communitites in the first place.

For an example closer to home, the current state of the railways is due to the Adam Smith Institutes recommendations on how to privatise it.

And they want to ban free libraries. Lock up that knowledge, and we won't learn that money isn't everything...

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Boffin

Rare metals expert ???

How can Tim Worstall possibly know all that much about rare metals when he cannot even see that the Chancellor is transmuting CO2 to gold simple by using taxes ??

Old-time alchemists, eat your hearts out !!

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Anonymous Coward

@FlatSpot

Been recently dumped by a biker have you?

My 600 Bandit, whilst not the most stupidest of speed machines, is plenty fast enough to make driving even the GF's sports car a rather bland affair, however 120 [motorway] miles costs me in the region of £9 in petrol, which I reckon is about 60ish mpg.

And as we all know that car drivers are so careful about sticking to speed limits and never have their relationships break down or anything.

So come clean, was you dumped by a biker with a Harley, dumped for a biker with a Harley or dumped by a biker with a Harley for a biker with a Harley?

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Boffin

Cows

As my solution to climate change I suggest CCC or Cow Carbon Capture.

This is a simple device the cow wears that stores the methane the cow produces.

This can then be used to fuel cars, converting it to CO2, which is 21 times more environmentally friendly, and should be taxed at $85 per tonne.

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Silver badge

Ha ha

I wondered how long it would take the enviro-conspiracy-mentalists to come out with the "I can't break your argument ,therefore I will proclaim you must be in the pay of big oil" line - yes, I'm looking at you Mr Richards. For my part, I'd rather live in a free country run by the ASI, than an enviro-fascist state of do-gooders telling us all what's best for us, but maybe that's just me.

"There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income."

Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

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Alert

Just plain wrong

The author appears to be making some assumption that all this green tax will either:

1. get put into some little savings account to cover the cost of environmental disasters at some point in the future at which point the government will kindly hand it over to Bangladesh and/or Weymouth.

2. Spent on whatever now, and people will sort of keep track of this and pay in benefit to future generations when the world floods, cos we're really nice people.

IMO, so called green taxes should be used in to reduce demand for carbon producing activities to 'prevent' future damage and stabilise the environment before it gets beyond the tipping point. Wow, prevention....hadn't thought of that....

BTW, I happen to agree with the previous post regarding the government using its green initiative to increase tax.

Either way, it's game over and I'm heading for the hills - with luck in a few centuries my hillside spot will become an exclusive island with private beach......

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Only if there were road pricing AS WELL

Stern's carbon tax pays for the environmental costs of the CO2 emission, and should apply to all fossil fuel including home heating fuel and fuel for the railways.

And cars including electric cars should pay for the costs of maintaining and providing the highway, including a recognition of the value of the land that it occupies and the social costs such as health and accident liability. As a free marketeer, you should recognise that the most effective way of achieving this would be to privatise the roads and the right to exact tolls for travelling on them.

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Unhappy

@Mike Richards

I've noticed the increasing resistance to climate science at the reg, too. It's probably the thing I find most offputting about the site as a whole.

I liked the old Register better, when they took a more open-minded yet sceptical approach to both sides of the argument, before they nailed their flag solely to the denial industry pole. But then the site slogan is "Integrity- we've heard of it" and the denial industry lobbyists do have a huge amount of money backing them up so it shouldn't really be a surprise.

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Flame

@FlatSpot

Yeah I know what you mean.

Biking has been turned from a credible form of gridlock beating transport into a weekend sport for posers (Go on you weekend bikers call me a tosser). On the continent a huge amount of people commute on them still.

Ive seen people in Switzerland commute to work in suits on HDs, amazing.

Yes I do get the MPG of a small car, but i can also do it without getting stuck in traffic, double bonus.

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Go

re: Motorbikes

@ Simon: I totally agree.

@ FlatSpot: You are kind of missing the point – yes the MPG is about the same as a small car but you don’t spend hours sitting in traffic jams on a bike so you’re not using as much fuel. Plus riding a 600cc bike is even more fun than driving high performance / sports car. If you go for a small 125cc bike the fuel economy can be a fantastic 100mpg!

As for Sunday riders I can’t really excuse them (I live in Wales... you should see how many we get round here). But for those of us who use our bikes as our main form of transport it is a low cost and low emission alternative to a car.

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"If you think you can put a price on a life, tell me how much."

I'll do better than that, here's three.

The cost of improving the NHS to the extent one person lives who would otherwise die from lack of healthcare.

The yearly economic benefit gained from people driving enough yards per year in a motor vehicle that the expected number of people who will die in a road accident that year increases by one.

The price of installing a water pump in an African village divided by the number of people who will not die of cholera as a result.

In reality, there are an infinite number of prices on life, with varying degrees of measurability. The healthcare one is relatively easy, I expect the NHS employ an army of cost-benefit number-crunchers to put some sort of defensible number on it. The road travel one is impossible because road travel results in too many diverse and indirect benefits. We haven't even touched on whether life should be measured in warm bodies or in lived moments - in other words, whether the life of a 80-year-old woman whose cancer we can cure so that she can die of pneumonia 5 years later is equal to the life of a 5-year-old child running across a street after a ball.

So whaddyagonnado? Do what everyone does, that's what - get in your car, drive to the polling booth to vote for a party that doesn't promise to increase taxation to 100% in order to pay for healthcare, and on the way back buy some luxuries to the value of a Saharan water pump. And drive straight past anyone waving signs using the thought-terminating cliché "life is priceless" to justify some extravagant expansion of government.

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Back at ya

@Rob Aley

Of course it's about saving human life, but money is a scarce resource by definition. Every penny spent on addressing carbon emissions represents an opportunity cost against lives saved elsewhere. Not just AIDS research, how about the 10 million who die each year due to the lack of clean drinking water - a cheap and easily solveable problem?

The money spent on reducing carbon emission could be used very cheaply to save lives right here and now, it's just not as trendy.

For a science/engineering/IT audience, I'd expect more enthusiasm for measurement of cost/benefit.

@ Mike Richards

I'd forgotten the socialist utopia of 3 day weeks, British Rail, air-travel only for the rich, British Leyland, dole queues, a single broadcaster, and the winter of discontent.

Analysis of the increase in performance and deliverables to the customer and tax-payer doesn't support your argument, e.g:

1. British Rail was so bad, they didn't even measure delays. Rail travel is faster, safer, cheaper (don't forget the massive taxpayer subsidies under BR). Yes, it's still crap, but only because we expect more than ever before.

2. Arts subsidies - You mean the money paid to elitist activities such as the ballet and the opera? An event that so few people want to go to that they cannot survive without the rest of us clubbing together to pay for it! Shakespear, Mozart, Dickens, Hardy were all commercial artists. What are you proposing, that committee's of people with the 'correct' opinions (remarkably similar to your own, obviously) get together to decide what the rest of us should see. Just think of the dross produced by the British Film Industry that we've all paid for and compare that to the vibrant and (often) better quality independent works produced without subsidy (Shaun of the Dead, anyone?).

3. You show your true colours in your irritation with allowing anyone to express analysis other than your dogma - "One question, why is El Reg suddenly posting so many - shall we be kind? - counter-arguments"

Economists (including the ASI) recognise the concept of social goods (defence/healthcare/anti-monopoly action) but look to determine the ost efficient way of achieving societal objectives. Attempting to measure costs and benefits empirically seems to get the lefties all in a steam (well, only when the facts contradict your theories). You seem to make a leap that if the facts don't agree with your opinion, the facts are wrong.

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Bronze badge

More

"Hmm Interesting, wonder why the author chose Weymouth as his example."

Just came to mind....wave to my sister next time you pass by.

"before they nailed their flag solely to the denial industry pole"

When an article says that climate change is happening, that we're causing it and that it's going to a lot of damage in the future, pretty difficult to describe it as "denialist" isn't it?

"OOOps but ther's the rub. I'm not "allowed" to grow hash, because it isn't just the 'market' operating here"

I'm sure you'll be very happy to learn that the ASI fully supports your right to ingest any and every substance you should wish to. Yes, we argue very strongly (as I do individually) for the full legalisation of all narcotics. 'Coz we're liberals, see?

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Paris Hilton

More taxes please

We need more and more taxes on motorists so all the poor people have to travel by bus like they used to, and the more well-heeled amongst us can enjoy our posh cars on nice clear roads.

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Silver badge

But the penguins!

Has anyone spotted that there were no Chelsea Tractors 100,000 (?) years ago so therefore we should still be in an ice age by the reasoning of these tax-crazy muppets?

Perhaps it's just some natural bloody cycle of the planet.

Happily, though, as I know I'm paying Gordon Brown to clean up after me I can drive a Vanquish S everywhere like my hair's on fire safe in the knowledge that my tax payments make me carbon-neutral.

Now to AFFORD one...

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