Ron’s Rambles – September

An inequitable tax
I think I have said that before, but it bears repeating. I don’t have a diesel engine car, I bought the car I have before the government tried to encourage people to buy diesel cars by lowering the ‘road tax’ on them. Their aim, of course, was to reduce the CO2 generated by road vehicles. Now that they realise these engines produce far more nasty particulates than petrol engines, they may have regrets. But the tax disparity goes on. My neighbour, with a diesel car pays one fifth of the road tax that I pay, admittedly my car produces double the amount of CO2 per mile that his does, but he does four times as many miles in a year, thus he produces twice as much CO2 in a year as I do but I pay so much more. Many of the older petrol cars are relatively low mileage cars owned by pensioners doing a low annual mileage, like me, and they are the ones suffering the injustice.
Of course, the fairest way of taxing vehicles with the aim of reducing emissions of all kinds is to tax the fuels, the more fuel used the more CO2 and particulates will be produced. Increases in fuel prices will always greeted with howls of protest, even if there was to be the abolishment of road tax, so no government is going to be keen to implement it.
A further, although less significant, inequity is the decision not to allow the transfer of the tax with vehicle when the vehicle is sold. A refund is given but the refund only dates from the next remaining full month. Thus, if the car is sold on the first of the month the refund will only date from the first of the next month, but the new owner will be required to tax the vehicle from the first of the month in which he bought it, the result is that the government gets the tax for that month twice.
It is not all bad news about road tax, however, nowadays DVLA have it all on computer, their computer will flag up a vehicle that has not paid tax (or declared off road) immediately, similarly they know if a car has no MoT, or no insurance. That means there are no more uninsured cars on the road, no more cars without an MoT and no more road tax dodgers. Oh no it doesn’t!
The latest figures available from DfT are for 2017, in that year, they say, 2% of cars on the road were not taxed (the AA put the figure much higher). 2% doesn’t sound too bad, but that is one in fifty cars untaxed, almost one in every street. The actual figure was 755,000 untaxed cars, if the average road tax is £200 that corresponds to a loss to the treasury of £155,000,000. The interesting fact about these figures is that the situation is worse than the last year when we had to display a tax disc.
How can that be? How can DVLA fail to ensure that tax dodgers are caught out when they have all the information on computer?
[The CEO of DVLA, Oliver Morley, was awarded a CBE for ‘digital services to the public sector’.]
Choice
I do find decision making on the home front increasingly difficult. Like everything else that is getting more difficult I tend to put it down to old age but in this case I am not so sure.
It seems to me that these days we have so many choices that it is more difficult to make up one’s mind. Compared with the situation in the 60s, for example, we have so much on offer, especially for home entertainment – a whole range of TV channels and films on line, in those days you had maybe 2 or 3 channels to choose from. Shops offer a wide choice and that was all we had, now you have to choose to buy on-line or go to the shops, the choice offered on-line can be staggering. Think about holidays! How that has changed and the holiday options you can consider nowadays. Should I be switching my energy supplier? Should I fit solar panels? Diesel or petrol car, or perhaps electric? It just goes on and on.

The pound £
The pound has been falling in value ever since the result of the referendum was known, at the time of writing, with Boris at the helm, it has been falling like a stone, and the economy is shrinking. I remember when Harold Wilson devalued the pound, he assured us that it did not mean that the pounds in our pockets were worth any less. He was ridiculed, of course it does. True your house may still be worth £200,000 and your savings remain the same number of pounds as they were but what you can buy with that money becomes less. The pound falling is an indication of what the money markets of the world think about the consequences of Brexit. We may live on an island but we are not living in some glass bubble isolated from the world economy. Falling in the value of the pound means we, as a nation, are all poorer.
The Brexiteers derided the warnings from the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England and many others. Pouring scorn on them, saying this was scaremongering, ‘Project Fear’ they called it.
Be afraid.
The USA, China, Russia and India are large territorially with large populations giving their industries large domestic markets. Europe, including the UK, is large with a large population. The UK leaving the EU reduces the size of the internal market of Europe but not to the extent that it will reduce the size of the market freely available to our industries. What on earth leads people to believe that our future will be brighter out of the EU? These larger nations are equally as advanced technologically as we are, they also have more natural resources than we do, I can see no reason why we should expect to be able to compete with them successfully and why, if we leave the EU, we will not become a rather insignificant and poorer island off the coast of Europe, even more likely if the UK is broken up by Scotland leaving, a not unlikely outcome if we leave Europe.

Champions
There does seem to be something a little ridiculous when the England team were cheered as Cricket Champions of the World with all the bally-hoo that went with that whilst the New Zealanders went home as losers, when there was no difference in the performance of the two teams. Surely it should have been a draw with joint champions?
Similarly the Wimbledon men’s final was equally balanced.

Countess of Sussex
Why is everybody in the media being so horrible to Meghan? It must be really awful for her and Harry.

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