Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Matters of principle

Chris Dillow has a nice post about road pricing, arguing that while there may be objections to it in practice, the principle behind it is sound.

Have to say it's not something I've paid much attention to nor do I have strong feelings about it but I'm inclined to agree. Roads are a scarce resource and have to be rationed. There seems to me to be three ways of doing this:

a) Queueing - which sucks, and is a waste of a couple of other another scarce commodities; time and my sanity.

b) Rationing the ownership of cars by making road tax prohibitively expensive, except for the goddam 4 x 4 drivers who cause a disproportionate quantity of pollution in the first place.

c) Taxing use rather than ownership. Surely this is a fairer way of doing it? It doesn't limit ownership of cars in the way option b does, only the use thereof - and it concentrates these restrictions where it is needed.

The other problem with option b is it gives those who can afford cars no incentive to use them less, since the average tax cost per mile will fall the more they use it?

Something that should be ruled out as a matter of principle are conspiracy theories. It's not that it is impossible for there to be any - obviously they have been. But like arguments for the existence of God, it is not for the sceptic to explain or fill in the gaps; the burden of proof falls squarely with the believer here. Like this numpty. Let's say it again: the possibility of keeping such a conspiracy secret is in inverse proportion to its scale... Oh what's the point?


Anonymous said...

They (CiF) gave this conspiracy theorist this platform, why?

Must be on the orders of MI6/MI5/Mossad to keep an eye on the nutters! But I did not realise there were so many of them.

Anonymous said...

"Taxing use rather than ownership."

So how do we stop that prudent son of the manse from doing both at once?
If you give up on owning a car, and fall back upon hiring when you need one, just watch him bring in the tariffs.

I reckon he is a Class 1 category A crook.

KB Player said...

Found myself snarling at some bloke who was off to a lecture about hearing explosions in Twin Towers. He thought 7/7 also a conspiracy but 21/7 was a copycat. Trouble is to argue would take a good grasp of factual detail, and I can't be arsed learning the factuals and counterfactuals for such people. So I end up snarling. Mind you, this bloke wrote a song in praise of George Galloway, so deserves to be snarled at.

Not so bad as the other guy who told me that it must be the CIA who did it since it was on 9/11 and the American emergency call is 911. Case proved, he thought.

Anonymous said...

I thought we already had option (c) courtesy of the highest petrol taxes in the world.

This is why people get so het up about road-pricing: not because it's wrong or even objectionable, but because it is just another goddam stealth tax to add to all the others.

Don said...

It is probably impractical for some glaringly obvious reason I hadn't thought of, but why not an individual carbon trading system?

Each adult would be allowed x amount of fuel/air miles. Those who didn't use their full allowance could sell the excess to those who wanted more.

David B. Wildgoose said...

Of course it's also worth considering that Transport is a devolved issue and so that means the unelected (by English constituents) Scottish Transport Minister can impose road charging on the English whilst knowing full well that the Scottish Parliament will reject its use in Scotland and thus his own constituents will be unaffected.

Just like happened with student fees.

Is this a Union we are in or an abusive marriage?

Anonymous said...

It’s always another tax though isn’t it.

No one in their right minds drives in the rush if they can avoid it, or in congested areas. Oh let’s sit in a traffic jam for hour! That’ll be fun!

I and every one I have spoken to on the subject, already avoid driving in London, wherever humanly possible, or anywhere/when else that is likely to be griefy. I don’t need a thieving politician to tax me some more and incidentally keep track of my movements whilst doing it to make me.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were possible to imagine they were actually capable of doing something worthwhile with it, but it’ll end up being used ineffectually and wasted.

And what is it with the frothing at the mouth about 4X4s? Envy? I guess they must be the new foxhunting/witches/jews.

I really can’t see the point of using a 4x4 in a big town, but away from the lights of suburbia, where public transport is often rubbish to non existent and where a little rain or snow can actually stop you getting to the shops it’s another matter.

How about trying to get long-haul freight transport off of the roads and back onto rails instead? That would probably actually make some real difference.

Shuggy said...

Is this a Union we are in or an abusive marriage?

David - I'm sure you're perfectly aware that Ministers of state are not directly elected but are appointed by the Prime Minister. The 'constitutional' point you make is, therefore, complete rubbish.

Planeshift said...

"hey (CiF) gave this conspiracy theorist this platform, why?"

because a week ago George Monbiot published a devastating attack on his film, so they probably thought it only fair to offer right to reply

dearieme said...

"How about trying to get long-haul freight transport off of the roads and back onto rails instead? That would probably actually make some real difference."
Except that rail could only absorb a few % of it. No hope there, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Re:”Except that rail could only absorb a few % of it. No hope there, I'm afraid.”

Rail used to handle a lot of the long haul freight in the UK, freight services have been steadily declining since the 1950s.

A train needs 50-70% less energy to transport a given weight of freight, than road transport. So should simultaneously make for greener goods and less crowded roads + also reducing emissions for what is on the roads.

The Department for Transport. disagrees with dearieme. Their Ten Year Plan calls for an 80% increase in rail freight, as measured in 2000/1.

Presumably they will have done some sums on this, so hopefully have some idea of what they are talking about - and 80% is a bit more than just a few %.


David B. Wildgoose said...

Shuggy, the constitutional point remains because Scottish MPs can vote to impose these charges on the English even though their own constituents will be unaffected.

It is the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament to decide whether or not to impose these charges on Scotland, and just like happened with tuition fees this is unlikely to take place.

And the fact that so-called "Unionists" refuse to acknowledge this fact is one of the reasons why the Union is now a dead man walking, and why so many of us English are abandoning our long held beliefs in that Union.

NuLabour has killed the idea of a United Kingdom. You say you will vote for them because they are a "Unionist" party, but their actions speak louder than their words.

Shuggy said...

the constitutional point remains because Scottish MPs can vote to impose these charges on the English even though their own constituents will be unaffected.

Fair enough but you were referring to the fact that Douglas Alexander was a minister, which is a different point to the one you are now making.

Yours is the baby and bathwater approach. There are a number of soultions to the problem you describe and contrary to what you assert, there are plenty of Unionists that understand perfectly well that it need to be addressed. The Labour party don't want to acknowledge it for fairly obvious electoral reasons but that's a different matter. They're going to have to anyway.

Anonymous said...

PA, you're miles off the mark, I am afraid.

Rail freight makes sense when you have to move 10,000 tons of coal from one place to one other place - and in fact it's still very widely used for that exact purpose.

But it's useless for modern commerce which actually involves moving 10,000 different small things from 1000 different warehouses to 5,000 different addresses. Try to do that by rail and you end up using lorries AS WELL, for the last x miles, which is even worse than just using lorries alone.

Sorry, but it doesn't compute in the 21st century.

Will said...

Shuggy -- how you doing young man? Okay I hope...I'm doing fine seeing as you asked...

Your blog seems to be attracting an inordinate amount of fuckwitted 'liberatrians' for want of a better word. Okay I'll give more words of a descriptive nature...dim cunts, fuckwits, arseholes, wankers, shitforbrains, I could say Tory fuckwits and imbeciles but that would draw attention to my comment and probably yours and my own political standpoints vis a vis shooting mutherfuckers in the head with which I/we disagree/agree.

Anyway...have you perchance considered that they are attracted here because of your own Burkean, conservative positioning of late. You reap what you sow young man. You reap what you sow. Consider, consider thoughtfully and consider in depth. Tories are not your friend.

Anonymous said...

Re: ”PA, you're miles off the mark, I am afraid.”

I was using (mostly) the DOT’s figs, so tell it to them. I was assuming they had at least looked into the matter. Though I suppose I shouldn’t really.

The thing is, the bit about the train being more efficient is solid. And we have the infrastructure in place. It seems a terrible waste not to take advantage of the fact that it is there. A marshalling yard can theoretically be built out of the way. Smaller delivery vehicles could be used between them and the point of use.


Ken Waldron said...

Do you drive Shuggy?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Will… A closely argued and devastating critique of – What was it ‘liberatrians', or possibly Conservatives. Can you tell the difference?

There is a libertarian left as well you know, or maybe not.

“Shoot everyone you disagree with”, Good plan, really captures the moral high ground there. Sounds like a fascist talking of course but…

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