The Car Has Won
Here's a message for Great Britain's new Transport Minister: the car has won. Deal with it.
For decades, the UK government and "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" have accepted, promoted and adhered to the view that cars create unacceptable levels of pollution. Cars are, therefore, a bad thing. Driving should be actively discouraged like, say, child molesting. The vast majority of the electorate demonstrate their unequivocal disagreement by, wait for it, buying a car.
This decision creates and supports one of the largest and most important sectors of the economy. In fact, the nation's economic welfare depends on the car's ability to move labour to where it's needed, and consumers to goods and services. Remember the petrol strike? Politicians don't. Even speeding down the bus lane of the M4 in the back of a comfy limo, they cling to the belief that cars are fundamentally, inherently bad.
All forms of public transport, are good. They don't pollute the environment! Well, not as much as a car. Well, a lot of cars. You know, when averaged out per head of transported human. Allegedly. Anyway, you don't want your children's lungs packing up from car emissions just so you can get where you want to go when you want to get there, do you? So do the right thing and get on a train! Politicians don't, but that's beside the point. Trains and buses are good for you.
Not convinced? OK, how about a little "negative incentive"? VAT on your car purchase, VAT on your service bills, road tax, petrol tax, MOT, congestion charges, tolls, insurance, VAT on your insurance, corporate tax on the insurance companies' profits, parking charges and speeding fines. British motorists are being constantly and severely penalised for doing something in their own self-interest, and the health of the national economy: driving a car.
It's time for the pain to stop. Like I said, we've won. Don't bother with the debate. Trying to have a sensible scientific debate with a politician or a tree hugger is like trying to convince a Jesus freak that a cannibal has an equal shot at getting into Heaven. Did you know that 80% of UK buses emit more toxins than 187 modern cars? Today's cars are so clean-running it would take you eighteen hours to die if you shut yourself in a hermitically-sealed garage with the engine running. We'd save 52 days of fuel per year if everyone inflated their tyres properly.
Really? Who cares? Hello? We've won. We don't need to prove anything. Do I have to justify my decision to watch TV (also taxed)? Don't forget that it's our money funding their dodgy environmental research. It's our money paying for their trips to Bali to discuss the unscientific conclusions and unworkable recommendations (ignoring beaches, golf courses, diving sites and representatives of the local sex industry). Anyway, we know they're hypocrites. I reckon even the most die-hard anti-car fascist secretly covets a Boxster S or Mercedes S-Class. Cars rule, tree huggers drool.
So, what needs doing? Roads! Lots and lots of new roads! Motorways, extensions, bypasses, ring roads, A-roads, B-roads— we want to see roads! If anyone complains, remind them that they are subjects of the Queen, without a constitution to stand on. Then buy 'em a new house and a new car and bulldoze right on through.
What else? Repairs! If German roads can be billiard-table smooth, why can't ours? If our guys can't do it, hire theirs. And… car parks! Lots and lots of car parks, smack dab in city centres. Make them safe, secure and sensibly priced, with wide bays and none of those fender benders masquerading as support columns.
While we're at, the only congestion charging we'll accept is VAT on Vicks VapoRub. Drop congestion charging and we'll let you keep all the money you're currently raking in— on one condition. All money collected from motorists gets ploughed straight back into road-related expenditure. If the government ends up with a surplus, drop the tax on fuel to balance the books. Oh OK, if you really want that train thing, go on, take some cash for that. Not too much. Think of it as a hobby rather than a mandate. If you really want to help the poor get around, rebate the VAT on their new car, throw in free road tax and call it good.
And that's it. It's not too much too ask, considering we've already won. How should we fight the battle? We could all drive into London at the same time. Wait! We already do that. How about putting our road tax into an escrow account until the government announces a road-building programme? I don't know. I'm just a motoring hack. But I do I know this: we have the power. All we have to do is use it.
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