Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's all very good introducing it but....

How do we get rid of pay-as-you-drive road charging? I realise some may think this an odd question, especially those (usually on the Left) who think blunt green taxes are the future for changing behaviour. However, the reason I ask such an odd question is because I'm actually humouring those that claim such taxes are about making people change their ways rather than being about revenue.

Let's assume, for argument sake, that the high-minded narrative theorising of those in favour of road pricing is an accurate prediction for a moment. Yes, I'm negating the complexity of the world and events, but let's just assume their Durkheimism is correct.

Once everyone has reacted to these taxes, sold the polluting cars for scrap (which is an environmental consequence no one has mentioned incidentally), and changed to nice clean green cars, what happens? How do you remove something that by that time would be so utterly entrenched in the budget as a means of revenue? It would be both fiscally and politically difficult surely?

Now, before someone suggests that the pricing would be graduated based on the type of car will certain cars being free. The number of free users will be massively outweighed by those paying from the outset. The idea that when that balance tips the pricing will not change in order to reflect the need to maintain revenue streams is, frankly, risible.

Essentially, this is the fundamental flaw (and some might call it disingenuous) of the behaviourist argument in favour of road charging. The argument has been framed within the emotive environmental agenda, and in such a way as to imply it will have an end point when people have become greener.

However, simultaneously the proposals are such that when viewed in the medium to long term, it's clear that it will be impossible to ever achieve the supposed end point because the revenue stream the charging will generate will make it impossible to ever scrap.

If you're going to introduce green taxes designed to change behaviour then they must have an exit strategy for when their purpose has been acheived. They are already many schemes, national and local, which are supposedly about changing behaviour but get classified under "income generation" in budgets. Road charging, as it stands, will not be any different.


Anonymous said...

The idea of road charging is ok so long as other taxes are taken away (i.e. road tax, and a reduction in fuel tax). According to a study on BBC News 24 road taxing is not going o be the massive hike in cost that most people expect, mainly because it's a pay as you go thing. For people who only use there cars on the weekends, they actually might be better off.

On a side note I am totally behind Ken's idea to up the congestion charge to £25 for large vehicles. And to those who gripe about child seats i ask what did their mothers and fathers do where there were no people carriers? No one, and I do mean no one has any reason to drive a 4x4 in London. It's just dumb, and is all about status and vanity. Anyone who value's status and vanity over the environment needs to be shot, as they are obviously mad!!!

To those who claim they have the right to drive whatever they want as they pay their taxes, i say you are wrong. Thats the same argument that smokers use, and we all know smoking is just bad news. Driving big cars is the same, only it's not an addiction. I do think the goverment should put pressure on car manufacturers to stop producing these gas guzzlers that are a byproduct of american culture.

Anonymous said...

pOwderkeg - I agree with you when you say that 4X4's are often driven by people who enjoy showing off their spending power and status, and that such vehicles (in my opinion, at least) should mainly be driven by people who drive on the bad roads of the countryside where these vehicles can truly come into their own. But I realise that one might as well be "out of the world as out of fashion", and I'm probably wasting my breath on such show-offs. I do however take issue with you over the point you made about what these people's mothers and fathers did to transport their kids about when these drivers were children - how on earth did they manage without 4x4s, you ask? As it happens, anyone over the age of 40 can probably recall that child seats, booster seats etc were totally unheard of when we were children. You can blame the requirement for bulky, space filling "child seats" etc on the H & S lobby during the past 20 yrs, which means it's no longer legal to transport your kids around the same way we were, i.e, completely unrestrained, rattling about in the back, and sometimes even sitting on Mum or Dad's lap in the front seat. So although I don't like 4x4s myself, I do have to sympathise with these parents' predicament. Maybe they could downsize to a larger saloon car (but that's just as polluting, isn't it?)or maybe they should just have fewer children = smaller car required?

Anonymous said...

The cost to the motorist (taken from the Guardian Online

A and B vehicle excise duty bands (less than 120g CO2 per km). Models include Toyota Prius, G-Wiz electric mini car, some Ford Fiestas and some Renault M├ęganes

£8 a day
C, D, E, F bands (more than 120g CO2 a km and under 225g). Affected models include most Volkswagen Golfs, most Fords, many Mercedes and Audis

£25 a day
G band (more than 225g CO2 a km). Models include Toyota Previa, some Volvo XC90s, most Chrysler Jeeps, some Range Rovers and other large 4 x 4s

Now tell me how many people cannot get two child chairs, and a booster seat in a Mercedes?

that link gives a list of cars that could handle a family, for insance a passat, or a RAV4 could easily handle manage more than one or two child seats.