In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Price of Petrol

The recent rise in the price of oil, to around $40 a barrel, has once again brought the price of petrol in the UK into focus.

There have been threats by various action groups to blockade the roads; in a repeat of the chaos that ensued a few years ago, when petrol prices hit new highs.

It seems that the hard pressed British driver, so we are told, will not tolerate petrol at 80p or more a litre. The argument is also made that, since over 50% of the price is tax, it is up to the government to keep the price down by reducing the tax.

Some politicians have jumped on the “petrol price bandwagon”, and expressed their support for the British motorist.

However, in my view, far too much time and effort is expended by politicians and the press in trying to placate the motorist.

Let us take a look at a few facts:

  • In real terms the price of petrol has remained, more or less, constant over the past 30 years. In other words, the motorist is no worse off now than 30 years ago.

  • Britain is a small overcrowded island of 58 million people. It seems that, despite the congestion of the roads and cities, everyone feels that it is their God given right to own and operate a car. Newsflash, it isn’t!

  • Oil is a dwindling resource, the more we use the less there is; by definition there will have to be some from of rationing. The most effective form of rationing is via the price.

  • Taxation on petrol is required to support the ever increasing demands of the electorate for better schools, hospitals and, dare I say it, more roads. It is time for the motorist to wake up, and realise that these thing have to be paid for. Therefore it is not unreasonable for the government to tax motorists, given the fact that they (the motorists) insist that every inch of the country be covered in motorways.

  • Cars are a blight on the environment, high petrol prices are a good way to make people think twice about using them.

  • The use of cars in the UK at the moment can be said, in many cases, to be unnecessary. The “school run”, in the mornings and afternoons, sees a multitude of unnecessary car journeys; as “little Johnny” is driven the few yards to school by his overprotective and doting mother. We are breeding a generation of fat, lazy and spoilt children. It seems to me that they, and the environment, would benefit immensely from them walking to school each day; rather than being chauffeured.

I am therefore very happy to see petrol prices rise in line with the price of oil.

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