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11th September 2013: The world's gone mad and I'm the only one who knows
30th August 2013: Isn't sarcasm a wonderful thing?
25th August 2013: Operation Yewtree has turned British justice on its head
13th August 2013: Black is white. Fact. End of.
11th August 2013: Why 'human rights' is nothing of the sort ...
11th August 2013: Electric cars, not as green as they're painted?
6th August 2013: How the British nation treats its friends ...
8th July 2013: The BBC biased? How can that be? They're so NICE!
26th June 2013: Think this country is a bastion of freedom and justice and a shining model for the world? Think again.
18th June 2013: Wrinklies unite, you have nothing to lose but your walking frames!
17th June 2013: is the end finally approaching for this evil woman?
31st May 2013: Now it's official - the BBC really is a left-wing propaganda machine
31st May 2013: Those evil bastards are at it again. Yes, you've guessed it - social services!
27th May 2013: Well-known TV presenter talks sense. No good will come of it.
24th May 2013: British justice is best? Only for the very poor, apparently ...
17th May 2013: Some actual FACTS about climate change (for a change) from actual scientists ...
10th May 2013: An article about that poison gas, carbon dioxide, and other scientific facts (not) ...
10th May 2013: We need to see past the sex and look at the crimes: is justice being served?
8th May 2013: So, who would you trust to treat your haemorrhoids, Theresa May?
8th May 2013: Why should citizens in the 21st Century fear the law so much?
30th April 2013: What the GOS says today, the rest of the world realises tomorrow ...
30th April 2013: You couldn't make it up, could you? Luckily you don't need to ...
29th April 2013: a vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE, because THE ABOVE are crap ...
28th April 2013: what goes around, comes around?
19th April 2013: everyone's a victim these days ...
10th April 2013: Thatcher is dead; long live Thatcher!
8th April 2013: Poor people are such a nuisance. Just give them loads of money and they'll go away ...
26th March 2013: Censorship is alive and well and coming for you ...
25th March 2013: Just do your job properly, is that too much to ask?
25th March 2013: So, what do you think caused your heterosexuality?
20th March 2013: Feminists - puritans, hypocrites or just plain stupid?
18th March 2013: How Nazi Germany paved the way for modern governance?
13th March 2013: Time we all grew up and lived in the real world ...
12th March 2013: Hindenburg crash mystery solved? - don't you believe it!
6th March 2013: Is this the real GOS?
5th March 2013: All that's wrong with taxes
25th February 2013: The self-seeking MP who is trying to bring Britain down ...
24th February 2013: Why can't newspapers just tell the truth?
22nd February 2013: Trial by jury - a radical proposal
13th February 2013: A little verse for two very old people ...
6th February 2013: It's not us after all, it's worms
6th February 2013: Now here's a powerful argument FOR gay marriage ...
4th February 2013: There's no such thing as equality because we're not all the same ...
28th January 2013: Global Warming isn't over - IT'S HIDING!
25th January 2013: Global Warmers: mad, bad and dangerous to know ...
25th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
19th January 2013: We STILL haven't got our heads straight about gays ...
16th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
11th January 2013: What it's like being English ...
7th January 2013: Bleat, bleat, if it saves the life of just one child ...
7th January 2013: How best to put it? 'Up yours, Argentina'?
7th January 2013: Chucking even more of other people's money around ...
6th January 2013: Chucking other people's money around ...
30th December 2012: The BBC is just crap, basically ...
30th December 2012: We mourn the passing of a genuine Grumpy Old Sod ...
30th December 2012: How an official body sets out to ruin Christmas ...
16th December 2012: Why should we pardon Alan Turing when he did nothing wrong?
15th December 2012: When will social workers face up to their REAL responsibility?
15th December 2012: Unfair trading by a firm in Bognor Regis ...
14th December 2012: Now the company that sells your data is pretending to act as watchdog ...
7th December 2012: There's a war between cars and bikes, apparently, and  most of us never noticed!
26th November 2012: The bottom line - social workers are just plain stupid ...
20th November 2012: So, David Eyke was right all along, then?
15th November 2012: MPs don't mind dishing it out, but when it's them in the firing line ...
14th November 2012: The BBC has a policy, it seems, about which truths it wants to tell ...
12th November 2012: Big Brother, coming to a school near you ...
9th November 2012: Yet another celebrity who thinks, like Jimmy Saville, that he can behave just as he likes because he's famous ...
5th November 2012: Whose roads are they, anyway? After all, we paid for them ...
7th May 2012: How politicians could end droughts at a stroke if they chose ...
6th May 2012: The BBC, still determined to keep us in a fog of ignorance ...
2nd May 2012: A sense of proportion lacking?
24th April 2012: Told you so, told you so, told you so ...
15th April 2012: Aah, sweet ickle polar bears in danger, aah ...
15th April 2012: An open letter to Anglian Water ...
30th March 2012: Now they want to cure us if we don't believe their lies ...
28th February 2012: Just how useful is a degree? Not very.
27th February 2012: ... so many ways to die ...
15th February 2012: DO go to Jamaica because you definitely WON'T get murdered with a machete. Ms Fox says so ...
31st January 2012: We don't make anything any more
27th January 2012: There's always a word for it, they say, and if there isn't we'll invent one
26th January 2012: Literary criticism on GOS? How posh!
12th December 2011: Plain speaking by a scientist about the global warming fraud
9th December 2011: Who trusts scientists? Apart from the BBC, of course?
7th December 2011: All in all, not a good week for British justice ...
9th November 2011: Well what d'you know, the law really IS a bit of an ass ...

 

 
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This useful and perceptive article by Philip Johnston appeared in the Daily Telegraph last week ...
 

 
Car owners would be a lot less aggrieved if their money was actually spent on roads.
Ever since the earliest motor cars set out along the first stretch of Tarmac accompanied by a man waving a red flag, cash-strapped governments have had one overwhelming desire: to fleece the drivers. First up was David Lloyd George, who in 1909 established a Road Fund to be underpinned by taxes on vehicles. The money raised was to be devoted entirely to the upkeep and construction of roads. Indeed, Lloyd George secured support in the Commons by promising, specifically that the revenue would be hypothecated and not siphoned off by the Treasury for other spending programmes. Fat chance.
 
Within a few years the Treasury started to raid the fund, thereby blurring the link between what motorists paid and the roads they got in return. As with the National Insurance Fund, ostensibly set up to pay for pensions and welfare, road taxes became just another way of raising money for general expenditure. Unlike National Insurance, though, at least the pretence was acknowledged and it stopped being called the Road Fund Licence in 1936 and became Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
 
Whitehall is currently engaged in yet more agonising about road financing, after David Cameron ordered a study into the feasibility of using private sector funds to maintain trunk roads and motorways. Inevitably the review is spawning ideas that have provoked howls of outrage. The latest wheeze, reported yesterday (29th October), involves a two-tier road tax – one charge that all motorists would pay to drive on local roads; and an additional one for drivers wanting to use motorways and trunk roads.
 
Assuming the reports are accurate, this is a daft idea on so many levels that it is hard to know where to start. For instance, what if you only have a local road licence but for some unexpected reason need to use the motorway or a trunk road: are you then to be fined? It would be possible to buy M-way top-ups for the occasions when it became necessary to use the higher-priced roads, but administering such a scheme would cost more than it raised.
 
There is a delicious irony behind Whitehall's search for more road cash. After all, the number of cars is rising all the time, so the money from VED should be going up commensurately. In reality revenue is forecast to stagnate or decline because drivers, at the behest of the Government, are switching to low-carbon emission vehicles which attract a lower tax. So, having encouraged people to do their bit for the environment and abandon their gas-guzzlers, the Treasury now finds the money is drying up.
 
However, most revenue from drivers does not come through the vehicle tax but from fuel duties and VAT. While VED raises about £6 billion a year, taxes on petrol and diesel – which are among the highest in the world – bring in nearly £40 billion. The combined revenues raised from motoring are around £45 billion a year – and yet only about £10 billion is spent on new roads and maintenance. So, when ministers claim there is not enough money to pay for the roads, it is not for want of a contribution from the motorist. However that does not stop successive governments periodically trying to force a few more eggs from the golden goose. The Treasury's problem is compounded because the greater fuel efficiency of modern engines means the take per vehicle from fuel duty is declining alongside the falling revenues from VED.
 
One solution, proposed yesterday in a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), is to privatise the entire road network and charge drivers for use on a per-mile basis. The charges for driving on trunk roads and motorways would be set by a regulator, as they are in the privatised public utilities, and local roads would be maintained by their communities. The IEA says all motoring-related taxes could be removed or significantly reduced; drivers would end up paying less than they are now; and the sale would bring in £150 billion to spend on other public programmes. Private contractors would be free to raise funds to invest in the infrastructure in the way water and power companies have done.
 
If all this sounds fanciful, it is one of the ideas that Mr Cameron has asked the Whitehall study team to consider, because congestion and disrepair on the existing road network is costing the country £8 billion a year in lost business and delays. But what might be a rational idea to an economist sends shivers down the politician's spine, assuming he has a spine.
 
The most straightforward way of raising money is through pay-as-you-drive road pricing, levied through a mix of tolls and electronic car readers. People would be charged for use, with the price adjusted up or down depending on whether the car was on a motorway or a country lane. Such schemes do have their drawbacks (they are expensive to set up, for a start); but they are more sensible than a two-tier car tax. And yet road pricing was ruled out as an option even before the current review began.
 
Needless to say, we have been here before. In 1962 the Macmillan government set up an expert committee chaired by the transport planner R.J.Smeed. Its report, Road Pricing: The Economic and Technical Possibilities, concluded that it would be possible to charge for road usage through metering “if the government had the will to do so”. It didn't, of course, any more than it has now. The principle that guided Smeed was that “road users should pay the costs that they impose on others”. In fact, they already do; it's just that successive governments have chosen to spend the money elsewhere.
 

 
The GOS says: What he has stopped short of saying, for some reason I can't make out, is that the whole principle of charging us to use the roads is dishonest. As he says at the end, we already pay far more than the cost of maintaining the roads and building new ones. What he leaves out is the fact that these are our roads, built for us with our money.
 
It's all so bloody typical, isn't it? They encourage us to work and not be a drain on the state, so we do, and they take most of it in tax. They encourage us to buy our own houses, and then charge us stamp duty when we do. They encourage us to use less and less petrol, and when we do they raise the fuel duty so they don't lose out and we don't gain. They encourage our children to go to university and get a degree so they can stack the supermarket shelves nicely, and they saddle them with acres of student debt so they can milk the poor little sods for the rest of their lives.
 
There is an answer, of course. Civil disobedience would be easy, and very effective indeed. Let them impose this two-tier road tax. We'll just drive where we like anyway. They can't imprison the whole lot of us. There might a few martyrs, but I for one would think it a sacrifice worth making. This is not an issue affecting only a small proportion of society. We are almost all drivers, and this is our government seeking ways to oppress the entire electorate that appointed it. It's high time we put our collective foot down and told these tossers where to get off.

 

 
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