Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Grendel

A Tax on Reality

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Here is a little article I wrote in 40 minutes in a blinding rage over the proposed pay per mile tax that Tony Blair would like to pass in the UK and that would quite literally bankrupt me. it isn't original and I give full credit to Ayn Rand.

A Tax on Reality

I am writing to you in reference to the governments proposed scheme of taxing us for every mile we drive.

Any one with any amount of intelligence would realise that this is a ludicrous idea that will never produce what mister Blair and his looters promise.

They say that it will reduce congestion by convincing those who don’t have to drive during busy times not; this argue is flawed in assuming that any rational human being would willingly sit in traffic for and hour unless they had, the reason we have congestion at 8.30am is because it is a fact that all those driving have to go to work! In answer to this fact that mister Blair and is Looters would argue that instead we should car pool or use public transport; in answer to this I would like to point out two things. Firstly those most that can car pool do but that the instances where those who live near to each other and also work near each other are few and far between. Secondly the suggestion that our public transport is in any condition to support the huge numbers of people that would be the result if we followed that governments suggestion is laughable, it can barely keep up with it’s current capacity and is totally unreliable.

With these facts in mind I realise that every rational man who has heard of this proposed tax cannot fathom why the government whish to continue with it, we all realise that we are trapped and would find ourselves forced to pay huge taxes to go to work or to not work at all and suffer that fate.

I am sure I was not alone when I asked myself what were the government thinking, no rational man could argue that their plan makes any kind of sense yet that is what they are arguing. They hail it as the answer to all our problems of congestion and pollution yet I ask you, how does looting more money from the tax payer going to solve this problem?

The answer to this problem lies in a mistake that we the tax paying public have made, a mistake that has cost us when we need never have paid for it.

We thought they were rational, they are not.

The government does not want us to stop using our cars, far from it, they want us to continue to use them, they full appreciate that the society will live in is dependant upon the modern automobile for its survival. They appreciate this fact and have been cashing in on it for years.

We are led by a government of looters who seek nothing less than the total abdication of reality; the reality that it is they who are dependant upon us, not the other way round.

Consider that any society in order to be successful must produce and it is those that produce that are the creators of that society.

What then may I ask doe the government produce?

The answer to those of you who my state that public welfare is what the government produces is that the government does not produce this and that even if it did who are the ones who pay for it?

You and me.

We are the ones who produce, the ones who earn a living, who drive to work, who work in factories, in offices and banks, we are the producers of this countries success and nobody else, and it is built and maintained on our own work.

If you are unsure of whether you are truly a producer or not the test to see if you are or not is very simple;

Open you wage slip, if you are paying tax, you are a producer.

Yet does anyone of us feel that way?

Do you feel like you have produced something that you should be proud of, that this country is built on your efforts.

No you do not.

But do not doubt that it is.

Every penny you are taxed is a penny that you have earned, that you are entitled to and that every penny you give in tax is a trade with the government, you are paying for services such as public transport and healthcare just as you would a chocolate bar in a shop.

If you bought said chocolate bar and it was out of date you would demand you money back yet the state of our public systems is beyond the worst kind of out of date food and no one asks for their money back.

Why?

Because they can’t.

They are both trades but the difference is that with taxes we have no choice but to buy.

This would not be considered a problem were we getting our money’s worth but we are not; imagine being forced at gun point to buy a £100 chocolate bar; sound absurd? Welcome to how you are taxed.

But this is a fundamental error is this system.

It requires our own sanction to work.

We must accept the government’s right to take by force that which we have earned; this may sound foolish at first considering that we are forced to pay taxes but I will explain.

We are the ones that produce; we are what make this country tick, its motor.

But who are we working for?

The product of our own efforts belongs to us and us along and no one else has any claim to it other than the claim that we allow them. To those of you who would state that we work for others consider the following, that those who benefit from the work of others are dependant upon that person who is free to withdraw their support at any time. You may force a man to work for you at the point of a gun but if he chooses to stop to think for you then you are lost. How can you force a man to think?

The product of our own efforts should be the things we hold in highest regard as well as the things that are the product of mankind’s mind.

Such as the car.

Think of it, the ability to travel hundreds of miles in a few short hours in comfort.

We should feel proud of this achievement it is the embodiment of humanities mind, his capacity to think and to make his own life between.

Yet do any of us feel that?

No.

Why?

Because we have offered our lives to a looting government who would use our virtues, the very thing we should be proud of, as vices to be turned against us.

We are told that we are destroying the planet when ever we get in a car, that we shouldn’t make unnecessary journeys, to slow down, we are made to feel in every way that a thing we should be proud of is thing we should be most ashamed of.

We feel guilty for our ability to drive, to produce.

It is that guilt that the government relies upon to loot the produce of you work.

If you feel guilty for you success, you ability to produce, then you feel you have no claim to it and so surrender it to others who claim that they do.

They don’t

I said earlier that the government wishes to abdicate reality and here is what I meant.

They damn as evil the very thing that keeps them alive, with out the products of the producers they would perish yet they damn them as evil and those who produce as evil incarnate.

Without cars the country would fail to produce and they would perish yet they damn cars as evil.

See the contradiction?

In reality there are no contradictions, if you find one check your premises.

Our premise was that they were rational, we were wrong.

They are not ration because they believe that they can continue to loot from motorists without feel of reprisal; they think they can tax the producers out of existence and keep their product.

They want to have there cake and each it to.

What they are doing is denying causality, the law of cause and effect.

How can you have a product without those who produce it?

How can you produce without the means to produce?

In this case the means to produce is the car.

They will tax us off the roads and then demand that we still keep on producing, blindly ignoring the fact that we will turn to them and say;

“with what?”

They are relying on our ability to support them, they think that the can tax us as much as they want and that we will somehow produce, as if it where merely a matter of clicking our fingers.

How much longer to you wish to work for your own executioners?

That’s what it is, make no mistake, they want you to go gladly to you grave and sharpen their axe as well.

How long are you willing to work for those who take from you but give nothing in return? Those who demand that you must produce for them, who produce nothing.

But then, what are we to do?

Simple.

Stop.

They are dependant upon us remember?

Without us they cannot produce.

So we must not produce.

They will perish we will not, we never have because we can.

If they pass their new tax our answer is simple.

Stop using our cars.

Use their warn out public transport, walk, bike do anything to get to work but do not use your car.

Can you see where that would lead?

A rational man could.

It would lead to total chaos, the transport system would collapse, industries would grind to a halt and the government would loose millions in tax.

It would take all of 3 days to bring this country, or rather the looters who feast on it, to its knees.

Then they would be to accept reality, that it is they who need us and that we are free to support at any time and that we will only deal with them of fair terms, that every penny we give them is for our own benefit, the benefit of better schools, roads, hospital, not for our own destruction.

If the do pass their law I suggest that everyone who owns a car register it as off the road and claim back the tax that they are owed and entitled to do so.

They need us the producers; we do not need them, the parasites.

post-3819-1172612874_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grendel, you might consider doing a little editing before you hit the "send" button. It doesn't have to be too polished, but to coherently focus on a topic or two is a good thing. ;)

I did not read your entire essay, but the original issue that upset you is interesting. From what I read, you are upset about a British plan to charge for road use per mile traveled. The question I have for you is, how would roads be paid for if they were privately owned? One method of paying is a toll based on distance traveled similar to the one you decry. A similar method is commonly used in toll roads in the United States. Admittedly, all or nearly all of them are government owned. A private owner may think of a better way of charging for use of his road. What are your thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I support road pricing. All of the tax collected using this method would be offset by scrapping existing road taxes. This makes the tax system more fair. It is a step in the right direction towards full privatisation of roads. Eg. once certain sections of road produce enough revenue, you can imagine private companies bidding with eachother to buy that section.

Privacy issues to do with the satelite tracking technology can be solved by having a strict privacy policy that would mean noone but a computer could access your car location.

A summary of the road pricing policy:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4610877.stm

I hope this gets through but I have a feeling that it won't considering public opinion is opposed to it:

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6381153.stm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The scheme is based on sound economics. Charge more for peak usage and you eliminate congestion.

However, for it to be truly capitalist, a lot more is needed. There must be complete freedom for road entrepreneurs to build competing highways and other forms of transportation, such as railroads, helicopters or whatever. With the freedom of entry that is an essential part of capitalism, there will be innovation in building the best, cleanest, fastest and most convenient means of transportation possible.

Without freedom of entry -- i.e., if the roads remain in the hands of government and no one else has true freedom to compete -- the pricing scheme only approximates some of the benefits of capitalism. In a capitalist society, the extra revenue the road owner gets by charging more for rush hour usage would increase his profits. Those high profits would result in more capital being drawn to the transportation sector, making it even better. This happens whether the owner of a particular road invests his money in transportation or not. If he doesn't invest, his high rate of profit serves as a beacon inducing others to invest in the sector. Thus, there is a connection between prices charged and investment in new roads and other forms of transportation.

However, when the government is the monopoly owner of the roads, that connection is broken. In all likelihood the extra revenue will just be squandered on other government projects. In any case, the pricing scheme sounds like a good idea, even if it exists in the context of government ownership. At the very least, it should reduce everyone's commuting times. Hopefully, it will also be a first step toward actually privatizing the roads.

Edited by Galileo Blogs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Privacy issues to do with the satellite tracking technology can be solved by having a strict privacy policy that would mean no one but a computer could access your car location.

This is not to say that I am necessarily opposed to the idea, but I think that it's naive to believe that a system with such an enormous for potential for spying on people will not be used to do so because of a "policy."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is not to say that I am necessarily opposed to the idea, but I think that it's naive to believe that a system with such an enormous for potential for spying on people will not be used to do so because of a "policy."

Microsoft has an enormous potential for spying on people. If it wanted to it could incorporate into its operating system hidden software that spies on you. It can already access and read all of your email stored on Hotmail. Why doesn't it?

This brings up a question: are privacy laws, such as the DPA, moral? Could these laws be applyed to the road pricing system for example?

I would say that in their current form they are not moral. However as long as companies sign up to privacy laws voluntarily then they are moral, in which case they wouldn't really be laws but voluntary regulation. If a company signed up but violated its stated policy, then it could be prosecuted for fraud.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This scheme appears to depend on a satellite tracking system (making all roads toll roads would be unmanageable), and whether it is effective depends on whether it gathers data accurately, i.e. charges the correct car, gets the right time of day, and also the right road. Details are sparse as to whether a new policy will be imposed to disable all motor vehicles that don't have a government-issue satellite transponder. At an abstract level, the idea of "pay as you go" is quite sound and just, but as a policy imposed top-down by the British bureaucracy which will continue to own the roads, I have serious doubts that this will work. In saying that "Current charges of fuel tax and road tax would be scrapped" (emphasis added), I wonder what replacement taxes will be imposed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My issue with it isn't on being charged per mile but with the way it would be imposed and what it is that i would be paying for. For starters there is the fact that nearly 70pence of every £1 I spend on fuel goes to the government in tax, then there is £100 in road tax i have to pay every six months, in both cases the government has said that it may reduce them if the implement tax per mile but this is only a maybe and does not fill me with confidence. Secondly there is the morality of the situation; galileo blog you said that it was based on sound economics and you will reduce congestion; how is this so?

consider that for it to be a sound economic system then it would have to offer the consumer (in this case the tax payer) the ability to refuse to by and seek out cheaper competition, but in this case the government owns not only all the roads but also all the other transport systems so it is impossible for us to choose, in effect we are being forced to buy something at the point of a gun. Then there is the issue of it reducing road congestion; in London they have introduced the congestion charge and that seems to have done nothing to reduce congestion but as certainly increase government revenue, why is this the case? Because people do not on the whole drive unless they have to, the arguement that it would prevent people from driving at busy periods is flawed; the people who drive between 8.30am and 9.30am do so because the have to go to work, they're not doing it for fun, who in their right mind would want to sit in traffic for an hour unless they had to?

What this current tax propses is to force people to pay to go to work because they have no other option, that is not sound economics.

Not to mention the fact that I haven't driven on a decent road for the last 8 years yet on my own have contributed around £13650 in tax, if you were to by a defective fridge you'd send it back and demand a refund, we as road users don't have that choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
galileo blog you said that it was based on sound economics and you will reduce congestion; how is this so?

//

Then there is the issue of it reducing road congestion; in London they have introduced the congestion charge and that seems to have done nothing to reduce congestion but as certainly increase government revenue, why is this the case? Because people do not on the whole drive unless they have to, the arguement that it would prevent people from driving at busy periods is flawed; the people who drive between 8.30am and 9.30am do so because the have to go to work, they're not doing it for fun, who in their right mind would want to sit in traffic for an hour unless they had to?

What this current tax propses is to force people to pay to go to work because they have no other option, that is not sound economics.

When you charge more for something, people demand less of it. That is always true in all markets. It doesn't matter whether the product sold is a "necessity" like driving to work or electricity or [you name it] or a "luxury" like foie gras and champagne. There can be other factors at work simultaneously that contradict the effect, but as far as prices are concerned, they directly influence how much people demand.

That is the sound economics behind congestion or peak pricing. Charge more to use something at peak periods and you reduce congestion. Although people "suffer" because they pay higher prices, they benefit from faster travel times since there are fewer drivers on the road.

In the hands of a businessman functioning in a capitalist system, this freedom to charge more at peak periods is a benevolent thing. As I described in my earlier post, it ends up putting capital into the hands of capitalists that results in more investment and better and, ultimately, cheaper roads. It also encourages innovation into even science fiction type innovations such as flying cars, not to mention more mundane innovations as better road-beds, signaling systems, railroad tracks, etc.

However, none of that is present for roads anywhere in the world, as far as I understand. So, you have a monopolist charging more at peak hours.

Are you still worse off for it? That depends on how adroitly and market-oriented the pricing is. Ideally, it should at the very least reduce road congestion over time and make your commute faster, albeit more expensive.

So, the economic principle here of charging more for peak usage is a sound one, but it is not nearly as beneficial as it could be in the hands of government. It could even be harmful if the prices charged have little to do with traveling conditions and are motivated strictly by political and government revenue considerations.

***

In another industry, an interesting application of peak pricing is the electricity industry. Unfortunately, like roads, the transmission grid is de facto government-owned because all aspects of it are government-regulated (it is nominally privately owned by utilities). However, to improve usage of the grid at peak times, "congestion prices" are charged. These are higher prices to transmit electricity during the late afternoon or during the hot summer season when usage peaks. Unfortunately for electric reliability, that money does not go into the hands of capitalists who would build us new transmission infrastructure. So, the good "rationing" effect of congestion/peak pricing is at work, but the capital-inducing effect is not. By capital-inducing, I mean the tendency of high prices and high profits to induce more capital to be invested in the sector.

So, although electricity might flow more rationally on a hot summer day, we'll probably still have blackouts because there is not enough investment in the grid. Because of congestion pricing, those blackouts just occur a little less frequently than they would otherwise.

***

The bottom line for roads and the electric transmission grid is not that a little bit of so-called "privatization" has been tried with such steps as tinkering with pricing, but that too little privatization has been tried. What is needed is complete unrestricted private ownership of the entire industries. All roads, all electric transmission lines should be auctioned or somehow transferred to private owners, with all restrictions on how they can be used completely and permanently eliminated.

This will happen, eventually, perhaps in baby-steps such as implementing "congestion pricing", if done rationally. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charging more a peek times would be fine in a capitalist state where competition were possible and we could refuse to use the service but if no way would it ever reduce congestion, people got to work at 9am so it will always be busy, to say that congestion charges are intended to reduce congestion is to abdicate the reality that it won't. I am in favour of paying per mile but not by force and not to government that has no interest in maintaining the quality of it's product because it knows we have no alternative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Charging more a peek times would be fine in a capitalist state where competition were possible and we could refuse to use the service but if no way would it ever reduce congestion, people got to work at 9am so it will always be busy, to say that congestion charges are intended to reduce congestion is to abdicate the reality that it won't. I am in favour of paying per mile but not by force and not to government that has no interest in maintaining the quality of it's product because it knows we have no alternative.

You are mixing up several ideas here. As to your basic contention that higher prices won't reduce congestion, why not? If you double the price, will some people find carpools or telecommute, or take the bus or even call in sick? Not even 1% of the drivers? Over the long run, will not some people move closer to the city to shorten their commutation time? Won't some people who can, work different hours? You are saying there will be no adjustment to a higher price paid. Is that true at any price and over any period of time? If it is, and all other factors are constant, it would be the first market in the world where the price mechanism did not work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to see a solid study (independent, long-term) done of the London congestion charge, to see if it is such a great thing. The problem seems to me that the charges aren't anywhere near high enough. If the goal is to use an economic lever to reduce road traffic, I'd suggest that they raise the tax (cough.... toll) to £20. They doubled the parking charge for me at work in the hopes of forcing people to take the bus, so I swore and paid the extra money -- if they wanted to socially engineer me onto the bus, they'll need to go for something like $2,000 a year. If you want to use monetary disincentives, I think it's most effective to be really unmistakable at what you're doing, like they do with liquor taxes in Norway.

It is only with a government monopoly which sees not driving into town as somehow being an intrinsic good that it makes any sense to think of raising prices to reduce demand. The rational approach to the problem is to figure out a way to get more people in and out of the city, faster. There is actually not any problem with having a lot of people in London, the problem is the inefficient movement of people. The solution to the "problem" should thus be technological, not economic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Microsoft has an enormous potential for spying on people. If it wanted to it could incorporate into its operating system hidden software that spies on you. It can already access and read all of your email stored on Hotmail. Why doesn't it?

Because Microsoft is a private company which depends on public goodwill to exist. Unlike, say, the Transportation Department.

Microsoft does "spy" on you by the way - they just do it with your consent. Microsoft performs intensive analysis of how people use their web services, and some Microsoft software anonymously reports how you use their software. Also, did you ever notice how online ads seem to be targeted to your demographic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn't independent, nor is it a long term study but its all we have right now:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/downloads/pdf/co...c-6monthson.pdf

1.11 In summary, the key findings of this report on the congestion charging scheme after six

months or so of operation are as follows.

Driver responses to charging appear to have settled: traffic data, payments data and

survey information are all pointing to new settled patterns of travel.

Traffic delays inside the charging zone have reduced by about 30%, which is

towards the high end of TfL’s expectations.

Drivers in the charging zone are spending less time in traffic queues, with time spent

either stationary or travelling at below 10 kilometres per hour reduced by about a

quarter.

Journey times to, from and across the charging zone have decreased by an average

of 14%. Journey time reliability has improved by an average of 30%.

Traffic management arrangements have successfully accommodated traffic diverting

to the boundary route around the congestion charging zone.

About 60,000 fewer car movements per day now come into the charging zone.

TfL estimate that 20 to 30% of these have diverted around the zone; that 50 to 60%

represent transfers to public transport; and that 15 to 25% represent switching to car

share, motorcycle or pedal cycle, or other adaptations such as travelling outside

charging hours or making fewer trips to the charging zone.

Public transport is coping well with ex-car users: extra bus passengers travelling to

the charging zone are being accommodated by increased bus network capacity.

Excess waiting times (an indication of the time that bus passengers have to wait

above that expected if the route was operating as scheduled) have reduced by over

one-third on routes serving the charging zone – partly as a consequence of reduced

congestion and increased bus services.

Concerns over charging having a detrimental impact on economic activity appear to

be misplaced. There have been fewer people coming to central London in recent

months, but this is for a variety of reasons, mainly reflected in a fall in people coming

in by Underground.

Fears of increased parking around suburban rail stations have not materialised.

Early data on accidents within the congestion charging zone suggest these are at

least continuing to fall broadly in line with pre-charging trends, although a full

evaluation of the road safety effects will take several years.

Congestion charging is expected to generate £68 million this financial year for

spending on transport improvements, and £80 million to £100 million in future years.

Whilst most aspects of the scheme are operating satisfactorily for the majority of

users, some aspects of operation and enforcement need further improvement; this is

programmed to be implemented between October 2003 and March 2004. Measures

have already been taken to increase numbers of enforcement processing and

customer service representatives, and TfL is about to improve the enforcement

processes and implement an enhanced Performance Indicator regime.

Basically it is behaving exactly the way economic theory would predict.

I also think that this is a perfect example of what has to happen with all public services as we transition into a free society (which I believe is inevitable, the good always wins in the long run). People are not going to wake up one day and think to themselves "I know lets have an O'ist constitution and defend individual rights and outlaw taxation!" Rather, people's views will change slowly over time and policies such as road pricing are an indication of these changing views. One day our grandchildren will wake up and they will be living in a free society and then all that will remain is to codify the implicit principles of society into an explicit form of government.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This isn't independent, nor is it a long term study but its all we have right now:
Right, that actually bears a non-empty relationship to why I included the words "long-term" and "independent". Communist regimes are often run by liars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This isn't independent, nor is it a long term study but its all we have right now:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/downloads/pdf/co...c-6monthson.pdf

Basically it is behaving exactly the way economic theory would predict.

I also think that this is a perfect example of what has to happen with all public services as we transition into a free society (which I believe is inevitable, the good always wins in the long run). People are not going to wake up one day and think to themselves "I know lets have an O'ist constitution and defend individual rights and outlaw taxation!" Rather, people's views will change slowly over time and policies such as road pricing are an indication of these changing views. One day our grandchildren will wake up and they will be living in a free society and then all that will remain is to codify the implicit principles of society into an explicit form of government.

That is a very interesting study. Economic theory confirmed! As to your view of how our world will change for the better, I agree that it will happen this way. That is how the Industrial Revolution happened in the first place. Many, many incremental changes occurred as people began to understand and value freedom on sundry issues. As they did, they enacted better laws and repealed bad laws. Sometimes those changes were dramatic, such as the repeal of the Corn Laws that began the British era of free trade. Most of the time the changes are small and incremental, such as the imposition of "congestion pricing." Imagine what a big step that really is, for no private owner could operate roads if he didn't have the freedom to charge prices as he sees fit. Now the principle of variable pricing based on usage has been established.

Edited by Galileo Blogs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×