The Price of Freedom

The Government have completely ignored the outcry over road pricing. The 1.8 million people who signed the petition on the PM’s website have done so in vain. In fact, if anything we may have goaded the Government into action, just to show us that they will not be told by the electorate.

We could now have a road-pricing system within two years. Thanks to petitioners, the Roads Minister is gearing up for action:

Speaking to The Times, he said their main concern appeared to be that road pricing would allow the Government to track every driver’s movements through a satellite positioning device in each car. He said that tracking could be avoided by abandoning the idea of having a complex charging system in which the price varied from street to street.

So if they don’t track our every movement, and don’t know exactly where anyone is at any time without the need for outdated methods like secret police, they can start making money right away.

The director of the RAC doesn’t like the idea of all roads in the particular zone being charged the same. He would rather see the more direct intrusion approach, “The best way to win support for road pricing is to allow drivers to volunteer to have black boxes in their cars in return for a reduction in fuel duty. They would save money by driving less because it would be like having a taxi meter in your car, making you question the value of each trip.”

There is no way to reduce fuel duty on a case by case basis. It is paid at the pump and figured into the prce. The only way to reduce costs to an individual is to give them credit toward the cost of their annual tax disc. But the principle is the same.

In other words, if people won’t give up their civil liberties, entice them with money. Don’t actually offer them money, and they may have to actually pay to have the tracking device installed in their car, but if they volunteer to be electronically tagged like a criminal, don’t take away as much money in car tax for a year.

So let’s work this out in real money. A tax disc for any private car with an engine size over 1.6 litres (in other words, most cars) is currently £175 per year ($350). Compare that to Texas, where the annual fee is about $50.00 for any car from the year 2000 or older, or a whopping $68.80 in most counties for the newest cars. In Indiana, it is $20.75 per year.

The Government would never ever consider an incentive that would bring the annual fee (again, probably only for the year someone volunteers) down to American levels. But if you are paying $350 a year for the privilege of having a car, and you have been programmed for years to be a senseless sheep led to the totalitarian abbatoir, and you are also paying $6.45/gallon for petrol ($5.16 of which is tax), you might be willing to give up your last vestige of freedom (and all the rest of them have been stripped away from you anyway – this is hardly even a liberty loincloth) for a little money to toward, say, your property tax (which for a small house, whether you rent or own, is about $2000 a year).

There’s nothing like a carrot and a stick.

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6 Responses to The Price of Freedom

  1. Steve says:

    But think of all the jobs it would create!

    Of course the fairest method of road pricing is a tax on fuel, which doesn’t require a more complex collection system.

  2. Dave says:

    You are most certainly right, Steve. The problem is that as much as the Government has tried, adding more and more taxes to fuel has not reduced the number of cars on the road, which is the Government’s overall aim. The road pricing is designed to make people think about how much it costs them to run their car and keep them parked in driveways. They can’t replace fuel taxes with road pricing, because while they want fewer cars on the road, they need the same level of revenue, so the only solution is to hit fewer drivers twice as hard.

  3. Grumpy Teacher says:

    Wow.

    Looking at this plan from this side of the pond, I can hardly believe a government would try something like that.

  4. Steve says:

    It is 20 years since they introduced toll roads here, and I still boycott them.

    Why?

    The government nicked the road tax on fuel to pay for the expense of invading Angola. We have a different government now, but they still haven’t replenished the road fund. So in effect we are paying for roads twice — once in the tax on fuel, and again in the tolls. The proposed UK system is just another form of toll.

  5. Dave says:

    The difference is that with most toll systems, only the good roads are toll. In this system, every road is a toll road.

  6. Pingback: Lead Us Not Into Temptation « David’s Daily Diversions

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