PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

Driving to distraction!
May 2002 

The idea for tagging motorists so that they pay a form of rolling toll, controlled by a GSM “spy in the cabin” is the latest in a long line of “beware when government starts to pretend it knows about technology” examples.

The idea is apparently to tax people by their usage of the road system. Well, forgive me, but I thought that was what fuel tax was all about; fuel tax even has an element of the notion of popularist equity about it, since the owners bigger cars inherently pay more tax, and the eco-friendly types who have time to waste waiting for, and travelling on, public transport, don’t have to pay it. Instead, they pay the Byers’ tax for putting up with an incompetent public transport system.

Oops, it’s actually cheaper for 3 people to buy a used car in Liverpool, tax it, insure, fill it with petrol, drive it London and then sell it again, than it is to go on the same journey by rail. These are the economics of the madhouse, so maybe the only way to reduce personal transport on our roads is stop faffing about on the fringes of the problem, and shoot every 3rd motorist.

OhmiGod, I’ve just realised, it’s already happening under the current Westminster junta. Maybe the Yardies are actually some from of new traffic control force especially imported and equipped for the job. Perhaps Ken Livingstone’s £5 London Tax is going towards more Uzis and ammunition, and training camps for car-jackers.

But since us mugs in the UK already put up with paying more fuel tax than anyone in Europe (possibly the world) it seems our demented leaders have run out of nerve to demand more, at long last.  Maybe the Great Fuel Rebellion of 2000 put the wind up the government, after all.

And perhaps George W. has given our beloved leader a tour of Area 51, and maybe he now knows something about a new energy source that is going to replace fossil fuels, so that this astonishing traditional source of easy bounty is about to decay anyway..? (I just love conspiracy theories, don’t you..?)

Just imagine – the day that someone announces a cold-fusion generator that simply recirculates water through some magic catalyst, Gordon Brown & Co. are completely stuffed. It would be like the moment when BT realised the Internet would sweep away their gruesomely profitable fixed line private circuit business; but just as BT didn’t spot the much wider opportunity represented by the internet in time, HMG couldn’t possibly see past their short term issues to realise that limitless free non-polluting energy could be used for a lot more than simply evading fuel taxes. But I can assure you that it would be several months before plans to tax water at £10 a gallon were abandoned.

Nevertheless, the amount of tax taken from UK motorists ought to be able to pay for the most wonderful road network on the planet, yet strangely it doesn’t. This is yet another salutary reminder that government is rarely the best person to spend your money, and a sinister portend for the massive cash transfusion proposed for the sacred cow of the NHS.

And then there is the public transport fiasco. You can’t move in London for empty fume-spewing buses most of the day, seats on the underground harbour more germs than the average cesspit. And if walk down the street, you'll be mugged.

Given all that, and the Tesco Internet home delivery service, why on earth would anyone want to venture out of the front door..? But the idea that home working might ease the strain on the roads seems to have dropped from the headlines since Tony’s boast that the UK was the best place on the planet to do eBusiness was proved to be yet another sham. The UK currently languishes around number 16 of the list of developed nations broadband use, and we’ve now been obliged to import a Dutchman to try and persuade BT to get its act together.

Regardless of the specific issues in the case of taxing people to use their cars, once the motoring public have been bludgeoned into accepting this idea, then your friendly tachograph will have no compunction in shopping you for exceeding speed limits – which, you will recall, was the last time some other pseudo-official beardie tried to use technology to foist yet another gross invasion of privacy on the hapless motoring public with a half conceived, hare brained concept.

I do wish these people would stick to knitting their meusli, and hugging those trees. Remember, it’s their timely intervention that means that your toilet doesn’t flush properly any longer since “they” restricted the maximum volume of cisterns as a result of the panicking over a perfectly natural cyclical water shortage in the early 90s. And it’s now so wet, that many of you can’t get flood insurance.

Or maybe that was actually some sneaky forward planning to prevent tax avoidance and water hording, when those first cold fusion water powered cars reach the streets…