/ Save money and the environment - criticisms please

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crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
Here's my suggestion: scrap the road tax and add ~10p/litre to the price of petrol.

Advantages:

1: the precise increase in petrol price should be set so that the average driver, if he doesn't change his driving habits, will neither gain nor lose under the new system, so this should not be viewed as a tax.

2: the cost of buying a road-worthy car will be lower, which should allow more poor people to use cars, and enjoy the freedom that car-owning brings. Also poor car-owners, who drive less than the average driver, will see their costs go down.

3: the marginal cost of driving will be higher; that is, the cost of driving each mile is higher. Therefore people have a stronger incentive to look for alternative modes of transport for each journey. In addition to the obvious environmental payoffs for everyone, for each car-mile you forego, you not only save the petrol costs, but you save a portion of your road tax too.

Suppose I want to visit my mum, who lives a 200 miles train ride away from me. I would prefer to take the train if it were not more expensive than the petrol costs of driving. Effectively, this new system allows me to say: 'OK, I'll pay a little more by using the train for this journey, but in return the government should pay back a portion of my road tax'. So although the price of public transport remains the same, switching from the car to the train or bus becomes more attractive.

4: the increase in fuel duty costs nothing to implement, and the government saves money on the administration costs of the road tax.

5: the efficiency of the car is taken into account, since you pay for the amount of fuel you burn, so the incentives due to the current banding of road tax are preserved.

6: We all have slightly less paperwork to fill in, and it becomes much harder for criminals to avoid paying road tax.

Objections to the idea:

1: Overall costs will increase for those who drive more than average.

This is true but not unfair. People must pay the true costs of driving, and this should include pollution and CO2 costs. From another point of view, this policy would offer incentives to live nearer to your place of work, to use public transport more, and for businesses to find ways to reduce the amount of fuel they burn.

2: If it becomes cheaper to get a car on the road, then perhaps the environmental savings made by encouraging current drivers to drive less are offset by the number of new drivers.

Even if this is true (and it might well be), the payoff would be in greater equality, allowing more poor people the freedom of movement a car brings, while encouraging the most heavy polluters to cut on emissions.

3: This doesn't go far enough! Removing road tax and adding 10p to the price of fuel is a good start, but we need to marginalise other costs too, like insurance.

Most of the advantages listed above would apply to offering insurance policies over the counter at the petrol station that only cover your car until you next fill it with fuel. But this would require some changes in infrastructure which need to be costed out, and might also require incentives for insurance companies to comply with a more complicated system.

.....

So that's the idea. Your thoughts and criticism would be very welcome!
JSA - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Wouldn't work for me, i travel to numerous clients throughout the working day so would, over a year cost me a hell of a lot more to go to work. As for travelling by public transport, i would hate to try getting 4 toolboxes, materials and step ladders onto a bus.

For me and people like me it's a no brainer, it won't work and would effectively penalize us for simply having a job.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to the inspiral carpet:

Well if you have a job that's absolutely dependent on travelling every day, as yours clearly is, then the same holds true for your competitors. So you will all pass the cost of travel on to your customers and that won't leave you at a disadvantage. You will not personally be penalized - the costs would actually hit your customers' pockets.
bigbobbyking - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Sounds like a good idea to me... It also makes sense as road tax is ostensibly to pay for the upkeep of roads etc. Those who use the roads more and so buy more fuel pay more.
Fume Troll on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> Here's my suggestion: scrap the road tax and add ~10p/litre to the price of petrol.

Here's a more likely scenario: Keep the road tax and add ~10p/litre to the price of petrol.

Cheers,

FT.

teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
Just done a quick calculation, your idea would cost me an extra 90 a year.

35 a year roadtax, 12 miles per litre, 15000 miles per year. So your idea would actually penalise people who bought small efficient cars.

As for the greater equality of getting more poorer people in older, cheaper, less fuel efficient cars on the road, that just increases CO2 emissions whilst the rich will just pay the extra and moan. Furthermore it increases the need for more roads to handle more traffic with the increased strain that that puts on the ecosystem.
Sorry, but I've seen this idea trotted out too many times by people who think everyone else should be paying their road tax and insurance for them. Pay up or take the bus, it really is that simple.
a concerned citizen - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney: Why not go the whole hog and add the third party insurance levy to fuel as well? It would stop people driving uninsured and would, by directly increasing journey costs, make people think more about whether journeys are necessary.

I'd vote for it.
Eagle River - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)

> 35 a year roadtax, 12 miles per litre, 15000 miles per year. So your idea would actually penalise people who bought small efficient cars.

Do you drive a Volvo C30 DrivE by any chance? Your calculations are identical to mine!
jonfun21 on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney: The only real way to address car usage is to limit the number of miles people are allowed to drive each year (e.g. 8,000). This would impact people in the same way regardless of wealth. Any other form of tax (e.g. petrol price increases, greater road tax) can be absorbed by the wealthy.

Ultimately this needs to happen even if we resolve the polution issue at the point of use (e.g. hydrogen fuel cells) as there is still too many people on the roads for the infrastructure. Fast forward 10 years and we could all still be sitting in "environmentally friendly" traffic jams therefore we need to improve public transport and get people on to it.

Given the above is likely to be unpalletable I agree we should scrap road tax and add it all to petrol duty, that way it rewards people who have economical cars and drive them economically.
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

It sounds good.

But I'd be concerned that it would hit people living in rural areas much harder than those in cities. In many rural areas there isn't a regular public transport system that could be used and for emergencies and essential business in particular private transport is essential.

Could you maybe think of a way to balance the increased cost of vehicle ownership in council tax payments to allow for this?
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
> Just done a quick calculation, your idea would cost me an extra 90 a year.

It's good to have some figures. I have only done very rough back-of-the-envelope calculations and, as I say, I'm happy for the 10p/litre figure to be tweaked so as to leave the government revenue fixed. It's true though that this will leave those who drive more than average out of pocket.

> 35 a year roadtax, 12 miles per litre, 15000 miles per year. So your idea would actually penalise people who bought small efficient cars.

My calculations are based on an average of 10,000 miles per year. By that measure you drive well over the average amount, which is why your costs would go up despite the efficiency of your car.

[10000 was the first figure I found - if the average annual mileage is actually greater than 10000, then the fuel duty should not rise by quite so much.]

Anyway, this idea certainly favours people who buy small economic cars - you pay for what you burn.

> As for the greater equality of getting more poorer people in older, cheaper, less fuel efficient cars on the road, that just increases CO2 emissions whilst the rich will just pay the extra and moan. Furthermore it increases the need for more roads to handle more traffic with the increased strain that that puts on the ecosystem.

It remains to be seen whether the number of new car-owners outweighs the effect of the higher marginal fuel costs and the demand for greater fuel efficiency in new cars.

You have a point on encouraging poor people to buy older cars; but they will be more sensitive than most to fuel efficiency, so they will at least tend toward the most efficient model available they can afford, and it's worth emphasising again the benefits of equality of access to car travel.

> Sorry, but I've seen this idea trotted out too many times by people who think everyone else should be paying their road tax and insurance for them. Pay up or take the bus, it really is that simple.

You're coming at this from an odd angle. I'm suggesting that everyone pays for precisely what they use, instead of paying a flat tax for roads.

It's not a zero-sum game. I'm proposing a more efficient situation (in the economic sense) than the present system. Trying looking at it from the point of view of the incentives it creates and whether it's fairer or not, rather than from whether you, personally, win or lose.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to a concerned citizen:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney) Why not go the whole hog and add the third party insurance levy to fuel as well? It would stop people driving uninsured and would, by directly increasing journey costs, make people think more about whether journeys are necessary.
>
> I'd vote for it.

You have a good point about stopping people from driving uninsured, although that would require abolishing annual insurance policies I guess, which some people might be hostile to at first. I do like the idea of paying for insurance at the pump, but it might require some initial costs to set up, so I thought I'd float this basically cost-free suggestion first!
EeeByGum - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney: You make some fair points. However:

- the cost of tax is niether here nor there with regard to the cost of motoring. Once you factor in depreciation, insurance and maintenance, road tax isn't that much at all.

- The 2008 oil price boom proved that people are still prepared to pay ridiculous amounts for fuel - they just grumble more about it.

I really like the current campaign of driving 5 miles less per week. Every little helps - anyone done this yet?
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to jonfun21:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney) The only real way to address car usage is to limit the number of miles people are allowed to drive each year (e.g. 8,000). This would impact people in the same way regardless of wealth. Any other form of tax (e.g. petrol price increases, greater road tax) can be absorbed by the wealthy.

Sounds quite Draconian and hard to police. Of course the wealthy can afford to drive more than the poor, but that's true for pretty much everything in a capitalist society.

There does seem to be an idea that the rich will just 'grumble and pay more' as I think a poster higher up put it. I don't buy that. Rich people do not part with their money very easily either; they are also influenced by the same incentives. Look at how strong the drive towards greater fuel efficiency in all types of car.

> Ultimately this needs to happen even if we resolve the polution issue at the point of use (e.g. hydrogen fuel cells) as there is still too many people on the roads for the infrastructure. Fast forward 10 years and we could all still be sitting in "environmentally friendly" traffic jams therefore we need to improve public transport and get people on to it.

It seems to me that a growing population will need growing infrastructure. I guess you could control motorway building by introducing a system of tolls for major motorways which don't apply to buses, and put a short range car-hire depo at every bus and train station, which worked rather like a self-drive taxi rank. Anyway, that's probably for another thread.

> Given the above is likely to be unpalletable I agree we should scrap road tax and add it all to petrol duty, that way it rewards people who have economical cars and drive them economically.

Hooray!
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

> I agree we should scrap road tax and add it all to petrol duty, that way it rewards people who have economical cars and drive them economically.

This idea seems based on the same misconception as road pricing, namely that people just drive their cars for fun and don't really need to.

As has been pointed out, huge numbers of people HAVE to drive every day, for work or because they live in rural areas. They don't have an alternative. Unless you plan to provide one, isn't it horribly unfair to multiply their driving costs severalfold?
jonfun21 on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney: I agree limiting the mileage would be a drastic measure, but it would need to be done hand in hand with a massive investment in public transport, including some of the examples you outlined.

The current level of congestion and associaated delays ultimately harms the UK economy. Therefore we need to decide where to invest our limited capital resource, either in single user (most car journeys tend to be) forms with a greater potential for user error, or in mass not for profit transit systems throughout the country, backed up by hand off (e.g. short range car hire, integrated bus provision).

Ultimately its about changes individual behaviour, people are willing to accept 1-2 hour commutes each way now days, unless this changes and we see people moving closer to where they work then we have to find the best way to address this.

Out of interest our population is not growing at a rapid rate (0.276% p.a. according to the CIA world factbook) and may well turn negative like some other OECD countries have experienced.

jonfun21 on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:

"As has been pointed out, huge numbers of people HAVE to drive every day, for work or because they live in rural areas"

My view is the reason a lot of people HAVE to drive is three fold:

a) Lack of reliable and effectively scheduled public transport

b) Growth of an individual orientated society, people don't like the idea of sharing or having to wait 5 extra minutes to catch a bus. They feel "safe" in their own world in the car even if its quicker and cheaper on the train etc.

c) We have become more tolerant of massive commutes to work, where I work some people think nothing of travelling for 2 hours each way in a car. Previously people would have relocated.

"Unless you plan to provide one, isn't it horribly unfair to multiply their driving costs severalfold?"

Totally agree with you thats why I would suggest have to invest in public transport first, provide the carrot before applying the stick.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
> But I'd be concerned that it would hit people living in rural areas much harder than those in cities. In many rural areas there isn't a regular public transport system that could be used and for emergencies and essential business in particular private transport is essential.

All good points.

First the easy one: the case of emergencies is covered, since this scheme will see if anything more people with cars, and the cost of fuel is probably the last thing on your mind in an emergency. I think I answered the question about businesses that genuinely require high transport costs above: they will be able to pass their costs on to their customers, who pick up the tab for engaging a high-transport-cost service.

The point about disproportionately hitting rural areas with higher day-to-day costs is much harder. The capitalist in me says, 'well, expensive travel arrangements is a unavoidable cost of living in the country, and should be thought of as a cost of living in that area, in the same way that a high car insurance cost comes with living in central Liverpool. After all everyone should pay the true cost of driving.' The human part of me isn't very comfortable with that since people born and raised in the countryside didn't have much choice in the matter.

Some hand-wavy solution is that, presumably, this scheme would see a rise in public transport use, especially in rural areas, which may lead to some growth in the services they offer. Hopefully car-sharing and other solutions will be found with these new incentives.

I don't really think that privatised local public transport is a great idea anyway, since it tends not to be competing with anyone, so I don't have a very good answer to the problem.

> Could you maybe think of a way to balance the increased cost of vehicle ownership in council tax payments to allow for this?

Well vehicle ownership would actually become cheaper if you have a lower than average annual mileage.

Any method of addressing the rural-urban balance that I can think of would involve city-dwellers effectively paying rural-dwellers to live in the countryside, which doesn't seem very fair at all.
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney) You make some fair points. However:
>
> - the cost of tax is niether here nor there with regard to the cost of motoring. Once you factor in depreciation, insurance and maintenance, road tax isn't that much at all.

I'd disagree with that. On a 2 litre, older car, with max no claims, my road tax is dearer than my insurance.

> - The 2008 oil price boom proved that people are still prepared to pay ridiculous amounts for fuel - they just grumble more about it.

What choice is there unless we stop going to work? For my journey even when oil prices were high, public transport would have cost me 3 times as much and my journey would have taken 3 times as long.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to EeeByGum:
> - the cost of tax is niether here nor there with regard to the cost of motoring. Once you factor in depreciation, insurance and maintenance, road tax isn't that much at all.

True. But once I've got a car and I've taxed and insured it, and I'm thinking whether to make a particular journey or not, the only factor I consider is the fuel cost. Now as you rightly point out, I should probably consider wear and tear in that calculation, but I don't. And I expect that in reality nobody else does either, which is what matters. Now road tax is very roughly 10% of the average annual fuel cost, so it really is a significant factor to take into account.

> - The 2008 oil price boom proved that people are still prepared to pay ridiculous amounts for fuel - they just grumble more about it.

People will still need to travel by car, yes, and us climbers especially want to get to places not served by public transport. But I wonder if the 2008 peak made anyone buy a more fuel efficient car, or cycle to work once a week, or walk to the shops, or share a lift, where they might not have done so in 2007?
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)

> But I wonder if the 2008 peak made anyone buy a more fuel efficient car, or cycle to work once a week, or walk to the shops, or share a lift, where they might not have done so in 2007?

Yes it did, along with the 35 road tax banding for more efficient cars. Your proposal now seeks to punish people for making that move as my case shows. Instead, you make it favourable for people in congestion suffering cities to buy less fuel efficient, more polluting, older cars and use them for more small journeys having completely the opposite effect of what you hope to achieve.
The answer is simple but takes strong government to implement it.
Ban the sale of all new cars above 1800cc. No need to persecute existing car owners with higher costs, no need to increase travel costs to rural communities, within 10 years we could reduce CO2 emmissions by up to 30% nationally without charging anyone any more.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> This idea seems based on the same misconception as road pricing, namely that people just drive their cars for fun and don't really need to.

> As has been pointed out, huge numbers of people HAVE to drive every day, for work or because they live in rural areas. They don't have an alternative. Unless you plan to provide one, isn't it horribly unfair to multiply their driving costs severalfold?

First of all, I'm talking about increasing fuel prices by roughly 10% but not charging road tax. So nobody's fuel costs will rise by as much as 10%, even if they used up all the remaining fuel in the world. So 'severalfold' is better replace by 'one-and-a-bit-fold'.

Some people drive for fun/recreation, but, yes, some drive for work. I explained that if driving is an integral part of your actual job, then it's your customers who suffer the increased prices, not you. That leaves only those who travel more than the average annual mileage just in order to get to work and back (roughly 40 miles a day would see you break even under this scheme; if you live 40 miles from work you're looking at about a 5% increase in your fuel costs, unless you car-share of course).

Such people might want to consider car-sharing, cycling, public transport, bio-fuel, or in the longer-term, living closer to work, or they can just pay the small percentage extra. I don't think it's desperately unfair to ask that someone who drives 80 miles a day by himself is asked to pay a small percentage more towards the upkeep of the roads than someone who drives to the shops once a week.
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

> I don't think it's desperately unfair to ask that someone who drives 80 miles a day by himself is asked to pay a small percentage more towards the upkeep of the roads than someone who drives to the shops once a week.

It is if you're refusing to provide an alternative. Try driving "5 miles less a week" when your nearest supermarket is 20 miles away, your kids school is 5 miles away there's no bus service!
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to niggle)
>
> Some people drive for fun/recreation, but, yes, some drive for work. I explained that if driving is an integral part of your actual job, then it's your customers who suffer the increased prices, not you. That leaves only those who travel more than the average annual mileage just in order to get to work and back (roughly 40 miles a day would see you break even under this scheme; if you live 40 miles from work you're looking at about a 5% increase in your fuel costs, unless you car-share of course).
>

Err, nope. If you drive a 40 mile round trip to work in an economical car that does 12 mpl and has road tax of 35, 10p a litre increase costs you an extra 50 per year and that's just going to work and back. You are penalising people who are already trying to limit their impact on the environment by using more fuel efficient cars.
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to niggle)
> Some people drive for fun/recreation, but, yes, some drive for work. I explained that if driving is an integral part of your actual job, then it's your customers who suffer the increased prices,

If they do then it's contributing to economic inflation. If they don't, companies and sole traders lose business and people get made unemployed.

Why do people think that sustainable living can be brought in on the back of taxation all the time? Direct action such as banning the sale of inefficient new cars will have an immediate, lasting effect without harming any sector of society.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
> Yes it did, along with the 35 road tax banding for more efficient cars. Your proposal now seeks to punish people for making that move as my case shows.

No, as I explained above, more efficient cars are favoured over less efficient ones in my scheme. The only reason you would pay more is that you drive much more than most people!

> Instead, you make it favourable for people in congestion suffering cities to buy less fuel efficient, more polluting, older cars and use them for more small journeys having completely the opposite effect of what you hope to achieve.

No, it becomes favourable to judge each journey on the basis of a how much fuel+road tax you will use on that journey. This will clearly drive people to have more efficient cars and to drive less.

The only mitigating factor is the small number of people who will now be able to buy a car, where previously they could not afford one because the cost of taxing it was prohibitive. This will be a small number of people compared to the number of cars already on the road, so I think to concentrate on this point is to miss the big picture: that everyone who owns a car is encouraged to buy efficiently, drive efficiently and take more environmentally friendly modes of transport.

> The answer is simple but takes strong government to implement it.
> Ban the sale of all new cars above 1800cc.

That's an answer, but it doesn't address millions of people driving large distances in an empty car. Better to favour fuel efficiency for everyone by marginalising costs.

> No need to persecute existing car owners with higher costs, no need to increase travel costs to rural communities, within 10 years we could reduce CO2 emmissions by up to 30% nationally without charging anyone any more.

No one is being persecuted. Those who use the roads are asked to pay for them in proportion to what they use and everyone is encouraged to burn less fuel by whatever means possible.
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

> This will clearly drive people to have more efficient cars and to drive less.

Again, you're assuming that it's possible for everyone to drive less - the "driving for fun" assumption I highlighted earlier.

What happens in your scheme to people who can't drive less?
Richard Carter - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

If I do more than 4103 miles it'll cost me more than I'm already paying :-P
Tom Hutton - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
A quick reply as I really don't have time to read through all this. But have you considered the knock-on affect of these fuel hikes?

On a small scale look at this.

As a magazine journalist and guidebook writer, I drive between 30,000 and 40,000 miles per year - most of which couldn't be done by public transport. I'm not alone, most of my peers are roughly the same.

What would happen to our magazines and guidebooks? Would they increase dramatically in price? Or drop dramatically in quality as things would become less well researched and less frequently updated? One thing's for sure, I couldn't swallow the kind of price hikes you are refering to, I am struggling to absorb the current increases in fuel prices.

And on a large scale.

Pretty much all our food and groceries are moved by road. These would have to go up (or costs/standards would have to drop). With everyday items suddenly costing more, who's going to suffer most? Those on lower incomes, many of whom may not even own a car.

As suggested earlier, we've developed a whole system/culture based on the ease of road travel. Much of it is so deeply embedded into our lives now - long distance commuting, out of town shopping, the cost of groceries etc etc - that it's going to need something more effective than altering the road tax system to alter it.

Just my oppinion of course.
Irk the Purist - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

If I moved closer to work, and bought myself a nice 251'000 house, I would pay in stamp duty 7'500, solicitors fees 500, estate agent fees of 2'500 and removal fees, maybe 500. So that's 11'000. How much would you have to add to the price of fuel to make that worthwhile?

Do you honestly think people would travel to work 2 hours each way unless they really, really had to?

Your idea is poorly thought through in so many ways.

The distribution of mileage driven by people is not linear. That is to say, if you take the person who drives the mean number of miles and make their increase nothing, then most people will drive less miles than them and a smaller number will drive significantly more. So, the people driving less will be slightly better off, whereas the people at the far end of the tail will be paying extortionately higher amounts. To set the scheme to be cost neutral you'd need to consider the median number of miles, which I will guarantee you would be very much lower than you'd expect. You'd have civil unrest before you could say "affordable homes for key workers near their place of work", or "you try taking a spare boiler on the tube."

Businesses passing on the costs to customers isn't really in the spirit of the penalise those who drive the most policy is it? Eg, Tesco home delivery. They would have to put the cost of delivering up, people would stop and would drive to Tesco instead, thus making a mockery of it.

If you want to save the environment, lobby parliament to make some real life, actual changes to worldwide issues that might make a difference, rather than taxing people who can ill afford it in a relatively minor source of CO2. You can start with protecting the rain forest, moving freight off of our roads and replacing fossil fuel power stations with nuclear.




crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
> It is if you're refusing to provide an alternative.

I don't accept that. Simply because long-distance drivers have been subsidised by short-distance drivers until now does not means it's unfair to rectify the situation! Quite the contrary, and it adds better incentives into the bargain.

In addition I have suggested alternatives. Car-sharing with other parents for example. It's also not clear that the situation you outline above will even be one of the cars that clock up a more than average mileage. If it were you're talking a few percent.
Irk the Purist - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

As a minimal user of the NHS can I suggest that instead of national insurance, we add a levy onto prescription fees?

I can't stand paying tax for things I don't use.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> Again, you're assuming that it's possible for everyone to drive less - the "driving for fun" assumption I highlighted earlier.

No I'm acknowledging the fact that some people do drive for fun (e.g. most climbers), and those people will be encouraged to consider the cost of each journey individually. Obviously this is not a consideration for those who need to make a particular journey.

> What happens in your scheme to people who can't drive less?

Basically those who live more than 20 miles from work and who don't car-share and who don't use bio-fuel or reduce their costs in some other way, will have to pay a rather small percentage increase in the amount they spend on driving in a year. Everyone can make essential journeys (about 40 miles a day) and save money compared to the current scheme.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Richard Carter:

What do you drive? And what does it normally cost to drive?
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Tom Hutton:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
> A quick reply as I really don't have time to read through all this. But have you considered the knock-on affect of these fuel hikes?
>
> On a small scale look at this.
>
> As a magazine journalist and guidebook writer, I drive between 30,000 and 40,000 miles per year - most of which couldn't be done by public transport. I'm not alone, most of my peers are roughly the same.
>
> What would happen to our magazines and guidebooks? Would they increase dramatically in price? Or drop dramatically in quality as things would become less well researched and less frequently updated? One thing's for sure, I couldn't swallow the kind of price hikes you are refering to, I am struggling to absorb the current increases in fuel prices.

Yeah, some good points. I think I addressed knock-on effects already. If your job requires travelling by car, then surely other magazine and guidebook writers do also? So all your production costs go up and they're passed onto the customer. If there's a difference in quality between a travelling-researcher-guidebook and a non-travelling one (and there surely would be), then your customers will decide which one they want. One positive knock one is that you might plan your travel a bit more carefully or use local photographers or car-share or whatever.

> Pretty much all our food and groceries are moved by road. These would have to go up (or costs/standards would have to drop). With everyday items suddenly costing more, who's going to suffer most? Those on lower incomes, many of whom may not even own a car.

Or option three, which is that the suppliers find more innovative solutions than sticking everything on lorries, or supermarkets find better ways of getting that food to us, or many other things I haven't imagined.
I'm not deaf to these arguments. But at the moment the little old lady who drives to the post office once a week is paying the road tax of people who drive on the roads all day every day.

> As suggested earlier, we've developed a whole system/culture based on the ease of road travel. Much of it is so deeply embedded into our lives now - long distance commuting, out of town shopping, the cost of groceries etc etc - that it's going to need something more effective than altering the road tax system to alter it.

That's true. Road tax might be a useful first step though. And you'd presumable be causing more than just increasing by a few percent the cost of long-distance commuters?
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to niggle)
Everyone can make essential journeys (about 40 miles a day) and save money compared to the current scheme.

NO THEY CAN'T!!!!!!!
I've provided you with the figures to show that this is simply not the case......a couple of times.
You are just burying your head in the sand, putting your fingers in your ears and going lalalalalalala it's a good idea lalalalalalala.
My only hope is that despite you having a PhD, you're not part of some government environment policy quango.
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Eric the Red:

Exactly.
a concerned citizen - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to all those bleating about it costing more to get to work: I don't want to appear unsympathetic but I am so that's how it's going to sound.

At some stage in the not to distant future we're going to have to make some hard choices about how we, as a society, use energy and this will probably involve curtailing private car use, so why not embrace it now before it's forced upon you?
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to a concerned citizen:
> (In reply to all those bleating about it costing more to get to work)
> At some stage in the not to distant future we're going to have to make some hard choices about how we, as a society, use energy and this will probably involve curtailing private car use, so why not embrace it now before it's forced upon you?

Why don't the government embrace it and improve public transport and make it more cost efficient.
I'd like to use the train to go to work and would happily cycle the 4 miles to the station at this end and walk the mile at the other end but I object to waiting for a train change for 45 minutes in the morning and 1 hr 45 mins in the evening whilst paying 3 times what using a private car costs. The typical nonsensical argument is to increase the cost of motoring rather than making public transport quicker and cheaper. Furthermore, let's not even get started on successive governments failure to move employment opportunities out of major cities.

EeeByGum - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Eric the Red:

> I can't stand paying tax for things I don't use.

Isn't that the joy of having a society with a welfare state? Of course we could move to a situation like in the USA where you only have good health care and education if you can afford it - which ironically cuts out most of the population.

It is also worth pointing out that happier societies tend to me more equal societies so the idea that if you earn more, you will be happier somehow doesn't add up.
i.munro - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:

> Why don't the government embrace it and improve public transport and make it more cost efficient.


Excellent idea. Now they just need to raise some money to pay for it.
Where should the burden of that extra taxation fall hmmmm?

I know let's put it on an antisocial activity that needs to be discouraged.

How about motoring? Brilliant problem solved! Errr hang on a minute isn't this where we started?
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Eric the Red:
> If I moved closer to work, and bought myself a nice 251'000 house, I would pay in stamp duty 7'500, solicitors fees 500, estate agent fees of 2'500 and removal fees, maybe 500. So that's 11'000. How much would you have to add to the price of fuel to make that worthwhile?
>
> Do you honestly think people would travel to work 2 hours each way unless they really, really had to?

I'm not suggesting that everyone should move house! There are other slightly less radical ways of burning less fuel. Also, is this a uniquely London based problem? I may be wrong, but driving 2 hours to find an affordable home near your work sounds like the sort of situation that only occurs in a certain part of the SE of England?

> Your idea is poorly thought through in so many ways.

Well, I am asking for criticism.

> The distribution of mileage driven by people is not linear. That is to say, if you take the person who drives the mean number of miles and make their increase nothing, then most people will drive less miles than them and a smaller number will drive significantly more. So, the people driving less will be slightly better off, whereas the people at the far end of the tail will be paying extortionately higher amounts. To set the scheme to be cost neutral you'd need to consider the median number of miles, which I will guarantee you would be very much lower than you'd expect. You'd have civil unrest before you could say "affordable homes for key workers near their place of work", or "you try taking a spare boiler on the tube."

I would like to see what you think the distribution looks like, or if you have any figures for the mean and median. If you're right then most people would win out under this scheme, even before anyone modifies their behaviour (not exactly riot-provoking). The outliers you're worried about are surely those who drive large distances commercially, rather than people commuting to work, and I covered this point already.

By the way, I think that the mean value is the correct thing to consider if you want to end up cost-neutral, not the median.

> Businesses passing on the costs to customers isn't really in the spirit of the penalise those who drive the most policy is it?

Not quite; the policy is to penalise those who drive avoidable miles. So if there's a more fuel efficient way to do something, you're penalised for not doing it. If no-one can find a more fuel-efficient way to do something then everyone hands their costs on to the customer. After all it is the customer who wants the fuel-heavy job done.

But if business A finds that it's more fuel-efficient to import its coal on the canals, say, and business B tries to hand the cost of driving coal on the roads on to the customer then they won't stay in business very long.

> Eg, Tesco home delivery. They would have to put the cost of delivering up, people would stop and would drive to Tesco instead, thus making a mockery of it.

No, because the fuel that Tesco use to deliver it is the same fuel that customers use to drive to Tescos. If it was cheaper for Tesco to deliver it to you before, then it's even cheaper for Tesco to deliver afterwards!

> If you want to save the environment, lobby parliament to make some real life, actual changes to worldwide issues that might make a difference, rather than taxing people who can ill afford it in a relatively minor source of CO2. You can start with protecting the rain forest, moving freight off of our roads and replacing fossil fuel power stations with nuclear.

I agree with most of that.
999thAndy on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to all:

Remember folks its called 'Vehicle Excise Duty', not road tax, and has been part of general taxation revenues (i.e. not hypothecated for the upkeep of our highways and byways) since about 1936.

More fuel burnt = more CO2 so an increase in fuel duty has green legs, but as many others have pointed out there needs to be improvements to public transport - maybe there would be an argument for hypothecating fuel duty to pay for roads and public transport...)
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Eric the Red:
> As a minimal user of the NHS can I suggest that instead of national insurance, we add a levy onto prescription fees?
>
> I can't stand paying tax for things I don't use.

Not a good parallel: access to healthcare is something we've enshrined as a human right, having a car is not. Anyone could get struck down by a terrible illness at any moment. Few people are forced against their will to drive an SUV.

Anyway, you're missing the point.

Removing road tax is a good idea not just because you're making people pay a little bit of money for something they don't use much, but mainly because it provides the right incentives for all drivers to make sensible environmental choices in the future.
Dax H - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
What a fantastic idea for drastically raising the cost of living for every person in the country.
Putting 10p on every liter of fuel will increase the price of everything.
Anything that is on a shelf in a shop has to be transported there.
Everything that is manufactured in a factory needs the raw materials transporting in and the finished product transporting out.

As a business owner who runs 4 vans of various sizes covering all of Yorkshire it would make a big difference to us but like you say I would just pass that cost on to my customer.
I would pass it on to you and all of the other members of the public who buy anything at all including gas, electric and water.
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to i.munro:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
>
> [...]
>
>
> Excellent idea. Now they just need to raise some money to pay for it.
> Where should the burden of that extra taxation fall hmmmm?
>
> I know let's put it on an antisocial activity that needs to be discouraged.
>
> How about motoring? Brilliant problem solved! Errr hang on a minute isn't this where we started?

Like all the taxes and tax increases put on motorists over the last 13 years have gone towards improving public transport? Hahahahahahahahaha!

i.munro - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Dax H:

Yes some businesses would pass on the costs.
Many businesses would however discover that the economics of their business have now changed. Supermarkets might find that a centralised distribution system is no longer the most cost effective, for example.

The businesses that did not adapt like this would find they are no longer competetive. End result some bust businesses & some new ones & less fuel used overall, which is the idea, no?
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
If we want people to use the transport system we want to promote, wouldn't they be more likely to use it happily if we tempt them into using it by making it the best option instead of just punishing them more and more severely if they don't?

This betae reminds me of a story I saw recently; an attendee at a climate change conference felt he was getting nowhere with his very anti-motoring audience. So he asked them, "If I invented a foolproof way of making 4x4s and SUVs entirely carbon neutral and safe for the environment, how many of you would back it?". Needless to say, there were very few hands raised.

Perhpas the OP should ask himself, is this idea really about improving things for us and the environment? Or is it about finding ways to hurt people he sees as wasteful and selfish?
i.munro - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:

Well there are many, many problems with unrestricted road transport.
Climate change is the most serious & most urgent but only one.
JSA - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to niggle)
> [...]
>
>
> [...]
>
> Basically those who live more than 20 miles from work and who don't car-share and who don't use bio-fuel or reduce their costs in some other way, will have to pay a rather small percentage increase in the amount they spend on driving in a year. Everyone can make essential journeys (about 40 miles a day) and save money compared to the current scheme.


I would ask that you come to work with me for a day, just one day then you could tell me how i could be more efficient and cost effective in order not to feel the squeeze if an idea such as yours were to be implemented.
Tom Hutton - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Glad you think some of my points are quite good but some of your answers to them don't really add up.

Firstly, the magazine scenario - I already try to keep my costs to a minimum eg use a economical car and try to do as much as possible for each journey. That's just common business sense and believe me, there's not enough money in this game to do it any other way.

Secondly, you won't actually stop the old lady paying for people who do more miles than her, you'll be asking her to pay even more as everything she buys will have gone up in price.

And finally, your point on another post about the commuting thing being Londoncentric - no, it's not. I couldn't afford my house if I lived in an equivalent kind of area south of here or north of here and I'm not alone. There are a lot of people living in Mid Wales and commuiting to South Wales and even the Midlands. And what's more, it's not always just about money: I know people who live two hours from work because they prefer the area eg it's better for bringing up kids.

As somebody else has already said, putting up fuel with no alternatives, will simply put up prices of everything.

We may need to reduce use of fossil fuels, but there are other ways. And without getting too deeply into the total energy debate, better railways and the accelerated development of electricity driven vehicles would be a good start.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
> NO THEY CAN'T!!!!!!!
> I've provided you with the figures to show that this is simply not the case......a couple of times.

Sorry, I'm working my way slowly through all the posts and have just reached your second one.

> You are just burying your head in the sand, putting your fingers in your ears and going lalalalalalala it's a good idea lalalalalalala.
> My only hope is that despite you having a PhD, you're not part of some government environment policy quango.

OK, keep your hair on.

Yes, the 40 mile round trip calculation is an important one. I had used 100 as a rough guess for an average road tax charge (or VED or whatever). Clearly if you're paying 35 a year we'll get a different answer. I don't know what the actual percentage needs to be in order to keep the tax take constant, since I don't know what the distribution of vehicle types in the UK is. Were everyone as per your example of 10000m, 12 mpl and 35quid tax, then it would be a rise of about 4% I think. If anyone has these figures it would be interesting to see what they are

In any case, the point is that people who burn more fuel pay proportionately, so the incentive is to save fuel when possible. Your worked example suggests the extra fuel duty would be smaller than I guessed in the OP, meaning the impact on those that lose out would be smaller than I suggested at the beginning.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Dax H:
> What a fantastic idea for drastically raising the cost of living for every person in the country.
> Putting 10p on every liter of fuel will increase the price of everything.
> Anything that is on a shelf in a shop has to be transported there.
> Everything that is manufactured in a factory needs the raw materials transporting in and the finished product transporting out.
>
> As a business owner who runs 4 vans of various sizes covering all of Yorkshire it would make a big difference to us but like you say I would just pass that cost on to my customer.
> I would pass it on to you and all of the other members of the public who buy anything at all including gas, electric and water.

How so? I'm suggesting that the price of fuel rises so that it precisely covers the vehicle duty paid in a year. So if no-one changes their driving habits then there should be no overall change to the cost of living (just a little bit of re-distribution). But presumably those people who are able to will react to the incentives and adjust their driving behaviour accordingly, saving money.

And as Teflonpete's calculations show, it probably wouldn't be as great as 10p on a litre.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> If we want people to use the transport system we want to promote, wouldn't they be more likely to use it happily if we tempt them into using it by making it the best option instead of just punishing them more and more severely if they don't?

There's really no difference between those two options, apart from the biased way you present them. I would love to be able to improve public transport, but how do you do that without taxing people to pay for it? Anyway, I'm not introducing a tax, I'm suggesting we replace a flat tax by one which favours people who pollute less.

> This betae reminds me of a story I saw recently; an attendee at a climate change conference felt he was getting nowhere with his very anti-motoring audience. So he asked them, "If I invented a foolproof way of making 4x4s and SUVs entirely carbon neutral and safe for the environment, how many of you would back it?". Needless to say, there were very few hands raised.

I saw someone post that on here already. If it's really true, it shows the audience to be concerned about something other than climate change (although as someone argued when it was raised before, perhaps they feel really strongly about mining the materials you need to build SUVs or somesuch? Environmentalism about more than just CO2.)

> Perhpas the OP should ask himself, is this idea really about improving things for us and the environment? Or is it about finding ways to hurt people he sees as wasteful and selfish?

The idea that this is about wanting to hurt people is a pretty foul one. I'm no economist, so I expect to have the idea kicked around a bit and maybe broken to pieces; but I can assure you my motives are solely to improve the overall wellbeing of people and the environment. I don't know (and haven't even considered) whether I'd be better off or not under these proposals. Simply that it would be an economically efficient way to give people incentives to behave in a more environmentally friendly way.

crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to the inspiral carpet:
> I would ask that you come to work with me for a day, just one day then you could tell me how i could be more efficient and cost effective in order not to feel the squeeze if an idea such as yours were to be implemented.

If there are no saving to be made, then you and your competitors will simply pass the costs on to your customers. You won't feel a squeeze.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Tom Hutton:
> Glad you think some of my points are quite good but some of your answers to them don't really add up.

I hope I didn't sound patronising. I was being sincere.

> Firstly, the magazine scenario - I already try to keep my costs to a minimum eg use a economical car and try to do as much as possible for each journey. That's just common business sense and believe me, there's not enough money in this game to do it any other way.

Fine, so the cost of the magazine will go up.

> Secondly, you won't actually stop the old lady paying for people who do more miles than her, you'll be asking her to pay even more as everything she buys will have gone up in price.

No, this whole thing is supposed to be zero-sum. What all the people who pay extra through the cost of fuel, directly or passed on through business, balances out exactly with what people save on the V&E duty. The little old lady is a winner. And that's before you add in the efficiency savings that the removal of the flat tax allows.

> And finally, your point on another post about the commuting thing being Londoncentric - no, it's not. I couldn't afford my house if I lived in an equivalent kind of area south of here or north of here and I'm not alone. There are a lot of people living in Mid Wales and commuiting to South Wales and even the Midlands. And what's more, it's not always just about money: I know people who live two hours from work because they prefer the area eg it's better for bringing up kids.

That's fair enough, I have no idea about that sort of thing in general.

But your friends who choose to live in a nice area are choosing to travel that distance to work. Isn't it fair that they should pay for the pollution and CO2 that results from their lifestyle choice, and at the same time making it easier for our little old lady?

> As somebody else has already said, putting up fuel with no alternatives, will simply put up prices of everything.

We're not putting anything up overall, just changing the flat tax into fuel duty. There will be winners and losers that cancel out at first, but lots more opportunities for everyone to save money and fuel as a result.

> We may need to reduce use of fossil fuels, but there are other ways. And without getting too deeply into the total energy debate, better railways and the accelerated development of electricity driven vehicles would be a good start.

I'm with you there, and would love to be able to afford to travel by train more frequently. This scheme allows that. I haven't got into the publuc transport debate because it seems a mess and I wouldn't have a clue where to start.
victim of mathematics - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

As soon as I read the first sentence of Niggle's first post I thought you were doomed, but since he subsequently seems to have decided you're an evil, hate-filled anti-4x4 fascist, the natural balance of the world is restored and you might be onto a winner.

It's difficult to see past most people's objections to your scheme being deeper objections to the fact that they're going to have to make some tough choices to deal with climate change than actual issues with your proposition. I'd be interested to know if your critics have any interesting counter-proposals...
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

> There's really no difference between those two options

I'm sure you actually know that there's a world of difference between rewarding for "good" behaviour and punishing for "bad" behaviour.

> I would love to be able to improve public transport, but how do you do that without taxing people to pay for it?

This illustrates exactly that point. If you make public transport better, more people will use it. If more people use it, more money will be available to improve it further.

If those who run public transport are guaranteed their passengers no matter how appalling their service, what incentive do they have to even run it on time, let alone improve it? The reality of business is that it's up to the company to provide a service worth buying - it's not up to the customer to buy it no matter how bad it is. Your proposal wants to turn that on its head - and if you want to see where that leads, just have a look at the nightmarish farce which is our public "transport" system.

We'd all like to be "greener". But the whole reason people are driving so much is because the alternatives are so awful. That's the real problem right there and you won't solve it by making driving horrible too. That just creates two crap options and is no progress at all.
victim of mathematics - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:

> This illustrates exactly that point. If you make public transport better, more people will use it. If more people use it, more money will be available to improve it further.

And where exactly do you get the money to do this? Might I suggest employing some form of tax, perhaps on motorists to add a stick to go with the carrot :)
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to victim of mathematics:

> I'd be interested to know if your critics have any interesting counter-proposals...

Yeah, I've got one. Improve public transport. If it's really really great then people will want to use it.

One of the key problems with our public transport at the moment is taht operators have no incentive at all to provide a remotely adequate service because they get the same fare - either in cash or better yet (for them) in season tickets - whether the service runs well, late or barely at all.

That's an unfair balance. The operators have it all their way and can raise fares whenever they like because again they have a near total monopoly. So here's an idea to combat this: instead of paying when you get on the bus or train, passengers should pay when they get off. If the service is late or overcrowded, passengers get to pay less. The worse the service, the less they pay.

This may sound odd, but it would give the operators an actual incentive to provide a good service and give passengers assurance that their money will be spent appropriately - operators who don't give a shit can run a bad service, but passengers will tolerate it if they pay almost nothing.

Just an idea.
ads.ukclimbing.com
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to victim of mathematics:

> And where exactly do you get the money to do this?

That's the operators problem to solve, isn't it? They're a commercial company so it's up to them to find ways to make their service worth buying - it's not up to customers to buy the service no matter how shoddy.

Almost every other company works this way - and they do work. So why should transport companies be exempt?
Sargey - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Just like to say I think your proposal makes a lot of sense and I admire the way you have responded to all the questions in such a detailed and measured manner.

The only reason I see that will cause it to fail is in evidence in some of the responses- it impinges on individual freedom which is pretty much embodied by the car. This is the core problem with any tax related to motoring. I think this is one of those scenarios (like the US health system) where even many of those who will benefit will oppose it because it limits freedom in a (small but) immediate and in your face way. People would find it psychologically easier to pay it all up front and then enjoy cheaper petrol than be faced with the higher cost on a weekly or fortnightly basis at the pump. Imagine for example the difference psychologically if you had to put 40p in the tv every day to make it work as opposed to paying the license fee.

Finally, to those claiming that small increases in petrol cost (4%) will put them out of business, we all know that far greater increases are coming soon just through the limitations in oil supply.

Good debate this anyway :)
digby - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Have less children. Make fuel cheaper.

Less people=less cars and less of everything that pollutes or uses resources.
i.munro - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Sargey:

> Finally, to those claiming that small increases in petrol cost (4%) will put them out of business, we all know that far greater increases are coming soon just through the limitations in oil supply.


I think this argument is important. Clearly fuel prices are going to rise.
By anticipating this rise with taxation the govt can smooth out the big fluctuations that are likely if price is left to the market & allow people & companies to plan the transition.

Far better surely to know that fuel prices are going to rise 10% a year than be presented with an unexpected 50% rise in the future.
JSA - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

If the Tax hike went to the development of hydrogen powered vehicles, the technology is already in use, so why not develop it further to make it a 'real' alternate source of fuel, then i wouldn't be as grumbly about it, but lets look at this realisticly, any Tax Hike is more likely to go into the government coffers rather than more R&D for an alternate carbon neutral fuel source.
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to the inspiral carpet:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)
>
> If the Tax hike went to the development of hydrogen powered vehicles, the technology is already in use, so why not develop it further to make it a 'real' alternate source of fuel, then i wouldn't be as grumbly about it, but lets look at this realisticly, any Tax Hike is more likely to go into the government coffers rather than more R&D for an alternate carbon neutral fuel source.

Exactly and that is where the opposition to it comes from.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> I'm sure you actually know that there's a world of difference between rewarding for "good" behaviour and punishing for "bad" behaviour.

Not if in order to reward the well-behaved you have the remove something from the poorly-behaved/

> This illustrates exactly that point. If you make public transport better, more people will use it. If more people use it, more money will be available to improve it further.

How do you make "public transport better" without spending any money on it?

> If those who run public transport are guaranteed their passengers no matter how appalling their service, what incentive do they have to even run it on time, let alone improve it? The reality of business is that it's up to the company to provide a service worth buying - it's not up to the customer to buy it no matter how bad it is.

This is precisely the problem with rural public transport. There's no competition. If I want to get between almost any two points in the Lakes by public transport there is best one way of doing so. Were it run by local government, you at least get to vote the management out if they're not doing a good job, or putting too much or little money into it. But this is a tangent.

> Your proposal wants to turn that on its head - and if you want to see where that leads, just have a look at the nightmarish farce which is our public "transport" system.

Not at all. I think you're all reading too much into the redistribution of costs from high polluters to low polluters. The main point is that removing a flat tax allows all drivers to, for example, use public transport where we could not previously afford to. At the risk of labouring the point here's an example:

Let's suppose I've spent 100 on my car tax and I want to drive 10000 miles in a year. That's 1000 in petrol. For simplicity I can buy a train ticket to cover all my travel costs at 1050. Assuming I have no preference for trains or my car I don't buy the train ticket because I've already paid out for my car tax at the beginning fo the year. I've spent 1100 in total.

Now we move to my system: no car tax but a 10% levy on fuel. Do I buy the train ticket at 1050 or do I spend 1100 on fuel? I take the train ticket and I've saved 50 compared to the previous case.

The figured are made-up but the principle is sound. For any given journey there may be an option which works out cheaper if you haven't had to pay out the car tax already. If not, you stick with the car and pay exactly the same as you would have (at least for the average driver).
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

According to IPCC estimates, the average Northern European generates more CO2 heating their hot water and space heating their home than they do through the use of private transport.

I propose an increase in VAT on heating fuel such as heating oil, gas, coal and LPG. It is only through the increased cost of heating fuel that we will force people to lower their carbon emmisions. Extra revenues generated by the increased VAT should fund free home insulation for everyone.

How does that sit with everyone who's in favour of an increase in fuel duty to encourage lower CO2 transport emmissions?
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to niggle)
> Let's suppose I've spent 100 on my car tax and I want to drive 10000 miles in a year. That's 1000 in petrol. For simplicity I can buy a train ticket to cover all my travel costs at 1050. Assuming I have no preference for trains or my car I don't buy the train ticket because I've already paid out for my car tax at the beginning fo the year. I've spent 1100 in total.
>
> Now we move to my system: no car tax but a 10% levy on fuel. Do I buy the train ticket at 1050 or do I spend 1100 on fuel? I take the train ticket and I've saved 50 compared to the previous case.
>
> The figured are made-up but the principle is sound. For any given journey there may be an option which works out cheaper if you haven't had to pay out the car tax already. If not, you stick with the car and pay exactly the same as you would have (at least for the average driver).

The principle is sound, but only if the figures stack up. Unfortunately in very many cases, the figures for public transport don't get anywhere near that for private transport and don't provide services to get people to work at start and finish times outside of major cities.
JSA - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:

You mean a scheme similar to this? http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/environment/energyconservation/warmzone/warmzonemenu.shtml

There have been other that have visited and looked at how the scheme works.

Incidentally this is also why i need my car, so i can visit peoples homes before they can be insulated.
niggle - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

Ah, but if you use my made-up figures it works the other way around:

Let's suppose I've spent 1 on my car tax and I want to drive 10000 miles in a year. That's 1000 in petrol. For simplicity I can buy a train ticket to cover all my travel costs at 10 million.

Now we move to my system: no car tax but a 10% levy on fuel. Do I buy the train ticket at 10 million or do I spend 1100 on fuel? I take the car and I've saved millions of pounds compared to the previous case.

So you can see that the figures are made up to suit the principle, which is a load of bollocks. Just like yours.

It's so easy to "prove" things when you can just make up any numbers you like, you're probably surprised intelligent people don't do it.

Sigh.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> Let's suppose I've spent 1 on my car tax and I want to drive 10000 miles in a year. That's 1000 in petrol. For simplicity I can buy a train ticket to cover all my travel costs at 10 million.

> Now we move to my system: no car tax but a 10% levy on fuel. Do I buy the train ticket at 10 million or do I spend 1100 on fuel? I take the car and I've saved millions of pounds compared to the previous case.

Er, no. In the case you've outlined, you wouldn't buy the train ticket. You'd use the car both before and after. You certainly haven't saved millions of pounds by your system.

Secondly, my case was for the average driver, who would find that his 100 car tax is offset by precisely by the fuel duty increase, should he chose to use his car. Even the heaviest of road users would only find their bill increasing by a very small percentage.

> So you can see that the figures are made up to suit the principle, which is a load of bollocks. Just like yours.
>
> It's so easy to "prove" things when you can just make up any numbers you like, you're probably surprised intelligent people don't do it.
>
> Sigh.

You'd be as well to make sure that your argument doesn't have a silly mistake in it before you get all hysterical about it.

I invite you to try it again. Pick any numbers you like, but remember that the fuel duty increase is designed to cost the same as the car tax did for an average driver. It's not a win-win game, but it is a win-can't lose game for the average driver. and not far off that for everyone else.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to the inspiral carpet and teflon pete:
> If the Tax hike went to the development of hydrogen powered vehicles,...

There is no tax hike in this picture! It's changing one kind of tax to a fairer one with better incentives for all players.

I can't make this much clearer: the government neither makes nor loses money.

> any Tax Hike is more likely to go into the government coffers rather than more R&D for an alternate carbon neutral fuel source.

What are the government's coffers? What do you think the government does with our money?
victim of mathematics - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
>
> [...]
>
> Yeah, I've got one. Improve public transport. If it's really really great then people will want to use it.
>
> One of the key problems with our public transport at the moment is taht operators have no incentive at all to provide a remotely adequate service because they get the same fare - either in cash or better yet (for them) in season tickets - whether the service runs well, late or barely at all.
>

This is a fair point.

> That's an unfair balance. The operators have it all their way and can raise fares whenever they like because again they have a near total monopoly. So here's an idea to combat this: instead of paying when you get on the bus or train, passengers should pay when they get off. If the service is late or overcrowded, passengers get to pay less. The worse the service, the less they pay.
>

This is an interesting, but clearly totally impractical way of addressing the problem. The obvious logistical difficulties in preventing people from leaving the bus or train until they have paid notwithstanding (and what do you do if they refuse to pay? Take them back to whence they came at your own expense?), how exactly do you propose to define a clear scale of how much fares should reduce in the event of bad service/lateness etc etc?


victim of mathematics - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to niggle:
> (In reply to crossdressingrodney)

> It's so easy to "prove" things when you can just make up any numbers you like, you're probably surprised intelligent people don't do it.
>
> Sigh.

If I didn't know better I'd suspect you were being an argumentative buffoon just for the sake of it...
chris j on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to the inspiral carpet and teflon pete)
> [...]
>
> What do you think the government does with our money?

Spends most of it on crap we don't need...
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to the inspiral carpet and teflon pete)
> [...]
>
> There is no tax hike in this picture! It's changing one kind of tax to a fairer one with better incentives for all players.
>
> I can't make this much clearer: the government neither makes nor loses money.
>
No, as an average tax take, the government doesn't get any more but the same group of people who have had their tax burden increased over and over again over the last 13 years get hit yet again.
I could reduce my CO2 emissions by 30% by giving up my job and staying at home but if I do that, society misses out on the considerable tax that I pay into the system. Under your proposal, people like me would be singled out to pay more just to go to work.
In the UK, we generate as much individual CO2 space heating our properties as we do using private transport. An increase in VAT on heating fuel, offset to be revenue neutral with free insulation etc wouldn't get proposed because it would affect pensioners and the unemployed but they are creating CO2 emissions by heating their houses during the day while I and my family are out at work, how come it's always OK to aim policies at forcing working middle earners to pay more?


Padraig on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
" Your thoughts and criticism would be very welcome!!"
My thoughts??? I'm gonna be dead in 30/40 years and don't really care!!
I got more important things to think about!!
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to Sargey:

Thanks for that Sargey.

I hadn't thought about the psychological side of things. You're right though, it would feel somehow worse to have to put 40p into the telly every day! Although now you mention it, paying for BBC programmes on demand would be fairer than the flat tax licence fee...

Also a good point about the individual freedom thing. I'd argue that it would increase personal freedom overall (cheaper to own and run a car, provided you don't drive more than average); but the (apparent) restriction of freedom by those massive petrol station price-boards might well be a difficult psychological barrier to break.

PS Niggle, I know you love the licence fee, so there's no need to reiterate your views on how it's our duty to all pay it regardless of how frequently we watch or listen to the BBC; how the little old lady who just watches the news each night should pay as much as the guy who watches 6 hours a day; and so on.
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> According to IPCC estimates, the average Northern European generates more CO2 heating their hot water and space heating their home than they do through the use of private transport.
>
> I propose an increase in VAT on heating fuel such as heating oil, gas, coal and LPG. It is only through the increased cost of heating fuel that we will force people to lower their carbon emmisions. Extra revenues generated by the increased VAT should fund free home insulation for everyone.
>
> How does that sit with everyone who's in favour of an increase in fuel duty to encourage lower CO2 transport emmissions?

You've missed the point. That's not a very good idea because it just introduces a levy. The scheme we're discussing replaces a fairly blunt instrument (V&E duty) with a more finely honed one (fuel duty).
crossdressingrodney - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> The principle is sound, but only if the figures stack up. Unfortunately in very many cases, the figures for public transport don't get anywhere near that for private transport and don't provide services to get people to work at start and finish times outside of major cities.

A fair point. Obviously this works better if there's a reasonable alternatively on hand. I'm sure there are many places where travelling to work by public transport is just not viable, especially if you don't live near a train station/bus stop - there's massive room for improvement here.

But at the same time there are plenty of places in the UK, mainly near cities I suppose, where there is a decent transport link that can compete.

Long-distance travel in the UK I don't find so bad. Coaches compete with cars on prices, train do too if they're booked in advance. Personally I prefer to travel by train than to drive long distances so I'd be willing to pay if the train was only slightly more expensive than the car.

Then there's local trips of less than a mile, say, where the extra price of fuel might persuade you to walk, or cycle a few miles.
teflonpete - on 10 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
> Long-distance travel in the UK I don't find so bad. Coaches compete with cars on prices, train do too if they're booked in advance. Personally I prefer to travel by train than to drive long distances so I'd be willing to pay if the train was only slightly more expensive than the car.
>
> Then there's local trips of less than a mile, say, where the extra price of fuel might persuade you to walk, or cycle a few miles.

But the middle distances, the 10 to 30 mile daily trips into work by rural or semi rural dwellers are the ones poorly catered for by public transport.
I can walk or cycle down to the shops, I share a car with 2 or 3 other people to go to the climbing wall of an evening or to a crag at the weekend. It's being part of a select group being penalised just for going to work that I object to.
crossdressingrodney - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> No, as an average tax take, the government doesn't get any more but the same group of people who have had their tax burden increased over and over again over the last 13 years get hit yet again.
> I could reduce my CO2 emissions by 30% by giving up my job and staying at home but if I do that, society misses out on the considerable tax that I pay into the system. Under your proposal, people like me would be singled out to pay more just to go to work.
> In the UK, we generate as much individual CO2 space heating our properties as we do using private transport. An increase in VAT on heating fuel, offset to be revenue neutral with free insulation etc wouldn't get proposed because it would affect pensioners and the unemployed but they are creating CO2 emissions by heating their houses during the day while I and my family are out at work...

I see your point. I'd welcome plans to cut CO2 emissions from other sectors too. I guess you can see why politicians are wary when it comes to policies that could leave you with a load of frozen grannies on the doorstep. Politically, I don't think anyone cares about the unemployed though. How about your VAT increase + free insulation + increased winter fuel allowance for oldies, designed to roughly keep their bills constant?

> how come it's always OK to aim policies at forcing working middle earners to pay more?

So far I been told my idea is unfair on the poor, now it's unfair to middle income bracket. I'm just waiting for an chelsea-tractor driver to come along and tell me it disproportionately disadvantages the rich!
crossdressingrodney - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> But the middle distances, the 10 to 30 mile daily trips into work by rural or semi rural dwellers are the ones poorly catered for by public transport.
> I can walk or cycle down to the shops, I share a car with 2 or 3 other people to go to the climbing wall of an evening or to a crag at the weekend. It's being part of a select group being penalised just for going to work that I object to.

Fair enough. On the one hand, you cause more pollution, you should pay more for it. Maybe living miles from work will have to become a thing of the past? But as you say it sticks in the craw a bit; can you suggest a way to mitigate the effects on that particular group?

Better medium-range public transport would be great, but since we don't own any of it any more, it's sort of hard to tell it what to do I guess. During one of his cogent moments, Niggle was complaining about customers paying despite shoddy service. A starting point would be make sure that every train station has a little room with a guy who has a record of when each train arrive plus a box of petty cash, who is legally obliged to refund a certain amount there and then for a train that's more than, say 5 minutes late. Could easily be extended to bus stations.

This exists in Germany for example and is a standard procedure used whenever a train is sufficiently late. In fact I thought I heard something about the EU making tighter legislation for just that recently?
niggle - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:

> Maybe living miles from work will have to become a thing of the past?

That's not without its problems either - and not the only answer.

This might surprise you, but I recently quit my job (and actually dissolved the company I was director of), in no small part for some of the reasons you've outlined. We don't have to look far to see that some of the ideas we take for granted in business are actually really terrible - the "everybody going to work at the same time" idea for example, as well as the "spending more time with your colleagues than you do with your family" idea and a host of others.

These are ideas which often hobble businesses which are otherwise based on fantastic ideas, lumbering them with overheads and outputs which they'd be better off without and making it harder for them to succeed. All the people in my company sat down and had a long chat and we agreed that we didn't want to use those ideas any more. We didn't want to commute, pollute and waste any more than we had to.

So we've started a new company, to work in a different way. But as I said, it's not without its problems. We're working them out - slowly. It's difficult and it's stressful and moreover we don't fit well with the way the government expects us to do things, which makes it tough for us to get on with them.

But we believe, really believe, that this way will be better. It'll be better for us, better for our families and better for the world around us. We know that it won't be for everyone - some companies just can't work this way, for lots of reasons. But a great many probably can, but we can't expect to bully or punish them into doing it like this, or to browbeat them into feeling guilty for trying to earn a living to support their families. We need to lead by example - to prove that the idea is good by doing it ourselves.
teflonpete - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
> [...]
>
> Fair enough. On the one hand, you cause more pollution, you should pay more for it. Maybe living miles from work will have to become a thing of the past? But as you say it sticks in the craw a bit; can you suggest a way to mitigate the effects on that particular group?

Cause more pollution than who?
My heating is on for about 5 hours a day and during that time it is switched on and off by a thermostat and I have one of the most efficient boilers made. I drive a 1.4 diesel car with low emissions (hence the 35 road tax). My heating heats a house for a family of 4 and my journey to work is to earn money to pay for the existence of that family of four. So my carbon footprint is actually a quarter of what I am paying for, despite being the only earner.

Compare that now to someone who is at home on their own with the heating on all day or driving half the distance I do in a less efficient car to earn money to support just themselves because they are single.

Who is the bigger individual polluter now? and yet we will both pay the same for fuel.

> Better medium-range public transport would be great, but since we don't own any of it any more, it's sort of hard to tell it what to do I guess. During one of his cogent moments, Niggle was complaining about customers paying despite shoddy service. A starting point would be make sure that every train station has a little room with a guy who has a record of when each train arrive plus a box of petty cash, who is legally obliged to refund a certain amount there and then for a train that's more than, say 5 minutes late. Could easily be extended to bus stations.
>
> This exists in Germany for example and is a standard procedure used whenever a train is sufficiently late. In fact I thought I heard something about the EU making tighter legislation for just that recently?

To be fair, it's the actual timetabling of train changes that stops me using trains and buses, not delays.
crossdressingrodney - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> Cause more pollution than who?
> My heating is on for about 5 hours a day and during that time it is switched on and off by a thermostat and I have one of the most efficient boilers made.

I'm only talking about driving emissions here - to tackle heating emission you need a separate plan. All I'm saying is that if your car emits more than average in a year, you will end up paying a little to someone who emits less than average.

> I drive a 1.4 diesel car with low emissions (hence the 35 road tax).

Then you'll pay less than those who do the same mileage in a less efficient car. You may well be saving money overall since you're driving a very efficient car - you could be one of the winners here, even if you don't change your behaviour at all.

> My heating heats a house for a family of 4 and my journey to work is to earn money to pay for the existence of that family of four. So my carbon footprint is actually a quarter of what I am paying for, despite being the only earner.

That's fine. The other three aren't asked to pay anything.

> Compare that now to someone who is at home on their own with the heating on all day or driving half the distance I do in a less efficient car to earn money to support just themselves because they are single.

As I said, this doesn't affect heating emissions. I'd support a fair way to encourage people to save heating fuel too. As for there being four of you and one of him, well your costs are split between four and his between one.

> To be fair, it's the actual timetabling of train changes that stops me using trains and buses, not delays.

Dunno what to suggest there. Privately run public transport is just a mess.
Matt Bill Platypus - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney: i haven't read the whole thread so someone may have said this already:

The current system means that you have to prove you have 3rd party insurance and a valid MOT certificate when you pay for your road tax. If you did away with that, then it is harder to control those aspects of legal driving. Yes, illegal drivers will get round it anyway, but if it was easier more people would not get insured or drive around in unroadworthy vehicles. Yes, the road tax is expensive, but not relative to owning and running a motor vehicle. If you want to have no or low road tax then there are many options. There are a number of cars which are in the lowest band, and you also have motorbikes and mopeds/scooters. There are also pedal cycles and walking.

What annoys me is that I pay road tax, yet the roads are in a bad way!
teflonpete - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
> As I said, this doesn't affect heating emissions. I'd support a fair way to encourage people to save heating fuel too. As for there being four of you and one of him, well your costs are split between four and his between one.

No, the costs aren't split between four. Children don't work to pay the heating bill. They do count as carbon emmitters though.
That's the whole point when we talk about "average individual carbon footprint", this is divided up between all the people in the country and this is what schemes such as your proposal are based on but it doesn't take into account that people sharing a house have smaller individual carbon footprints than people living alone same as people car sharing have smaller carbon footprints than people driving alone. If you are going to base taxation on carbon emmissions this needs to be taken into account.
crossdressingrodney - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Matt Bill Platypus:
> The current system means that you have to prove you have 3rd party insurance and a valid MOT certificate when you pay for your road tax. If you did away with that, then it is harder to control those aspects of legal driving.

No one's mentioned that before, and it's a good point I hadn't considered. The insurance problem would be solved if you could bundle the insurance costs in with the fuel somehow; perhaps the MOT certificate should be left in the glove box and police should check them whenever they stop someone?

> Yes, the road tax is expensive, but not relative to owning and running a motor vehicle. If you want to have no or low road tax then there are many options. There are a number of cars which are in the lowest band, and you also have motorbikes and mopeds/scooters. There are also pedal cycles and walking.

Road tax is about 10% of the day-to-day running costs by my rough calculation, so not insignificant. The finer banding is certainly an improvement on the previous two-band system. The advantage of my system is that it allows effectively offers to pay back part a portion of your road tax each time you use a bike/public transport/walk.
crossdressingrodney - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> No, the costs aren't split between four. Children don't work to pay the heating bill. They do count as carbon emmitters though.

Well that's just like food costs, or water bills or anything else. It's a cost of raising children. Since bringing up children is important to society, you could make a case that the child allowance should increase a little to cover the extra fuel costs that children incur?

> That's the whole point when we talk about "average individual carbon footprint", this is divided up between all the people in the country and this is what schemes such as your proposal are based on but it doesn't take into account that people sharing a house have smaller individual carbon footprints than people living alone same as people car sharing have smaller carbon footprints than people driving alone. If you are going to base taxation on carbon emmissions this needs to be taken into account.

I agree. My suggestion would only help to address the damage done by driving. I'd support other ideas to help drive greater efficiency in domestic heating too.
teflonpete - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to crossdressingrodney:
> (In reply to Matt Bill Platypus)
> [...]
>
> No one's mentioned that before, and it's a good point I hadn't considered. The insurance problem would be solved if you could bundle the insurance costs in with the fuel somehow; perhaps the MOT certificate should be left in the glove box and police should check them whenever they stop someone?

MOT disc in the windscreen?

crossdressingrodney - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to teflonpete:
> MOT disc in the windscreen?

Good idea.

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