...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 2746: Mr Frown – adding fule to the fire?


The Conservatories are making a fuss about whether Mr Frown "misled" the House of Commons by claiming to be a competent Chancellor, er no, claiming that a "majority" would be better off under changes to car tax.

I don't think this was a deliberate FIB; he merely FORGOT that his briefing notes said "better… or no worse… off".

Similarly, I think that he was not trying to claim that he was like Ms Bronte's brooding anti-hero when he said he was like Heathcliff. I think he just got the WRONG CARTOON CAT since it's obvious that he is GARFIELD!

Just think about it: brooding sarcastic presence who demands loyalty from those whose lives he makes a misery, and insists on eating up all the food. Next time you see his googly-eyed idiot sidekick Sooty Odie standing up to make a Treasury apology statement just see if you can't imagine Mr Frown pushing him face first into a pie!

The Labour can't seem to get their head around the idea that you should give people some INCENTIVE to make a difficult change. Typically they prefer to ban things and punish people.

Here, the idea is to encourage you to buy a new and LESS-POLLUTING car. But cars are VERY expensive; it's not a casual decision to go out and buy one.

Because it is SUCH a big purchase, the decision to get a new car is NOT very influenced by outside factors. In other words, a bit more extra pain in tax – even quite a LOT more pain in fact – won't influence people to get a new car.

So it isn't a very good idea to PUNISH people with higher taxes just because they don't want to spend LOTS of money on a new car. Especially since you've just wrecked the economy.

Plus, if you take more of people's money in tax, they'll have LESS for going out and buying that new car you want them to!

You would stand a BETTER chance of success by giving people EXTRA HELP for trading in an older car for a cleaner, greener one.

The real problem for the Government is its lack of FLEXIBILITY in responding to changes in the world outside of the Treasury. As is typical for a work by Mr Frown, they've come up with a rather-too-complicated method of inflicting penalties and rewards and it's blown up in their faces because now is not a good time to be putting up ANY taxes.

What they need to say is something like: "well, it takes a lot of planning for us to work out the budget and while we were working on it obviously we were mostly concerned about global warming, but since then the wheels have come off the economy. Sorry."

Obviously there are several reasons why they CAN'T do that – though sadly I suspect that saving face is more important to them than pointing out that global warming hasn't gone away just because everyone is going to be unemployed, homeless and poor now.

Plus there's the whole business of Mr Frown claiming to be MASTER of the ECONOMY for ten years. So it's red faces all round to admit that it's gone base over apex.

All of which leaves the Conservatories with their favourite target: the open goal.

Of course, this ties in to Mr Gideon Oboe's latest populist tax wheeze too, where he claims that he'll lower fuel taxes whenever fuel prices go up.

Unlike the OTHER of Mr Oboe's new wheezes: paying people for recycling (which I COULD approve of, even though it is a BIT naughty of him to say people hate that their Council is going to fortnightly bin collections when there are lots of CONSERVATORY Councils that are doing this!), I am not so sure that this is a good idea.

I mean superficially it is appealing: to keep fuel prices stable in a time of economic uncertainty makes a certain amount of sense. And it never looks good for the taxman to look like he's PROFITEERING, raking in lots of extra taxes just because fuel prices have risen.

But on the other fluffy foot, where is Mr Oboe going to get the money from? He's essentially suggesting an unfunded cut in revenue (and it's a tax cut that no one will NOTICE as their petrol doesn't get cheaper). You might be able to afford it for a penny or two, but remember oil prices have DOUBLED in a year.

And aren't we forgetting that there really IS a real cost to keeping on using petrol, and shouldn't we be encouraging people to switch to alternatives instead? Ideally before petrol actually runs out altogether.

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