FUEL STRIKES – THE DEMOCRATICALLY RESPONSIBLE FIGHT BACK
Dateline: 14th September 2000
Taxi drivers, lorry drivers, farmers and road haulage firms are receiving such support in their strike against Government taxes on petrol because they are among the few really responsible businesses which can take effective action. They speak for millions of motorists, the self-employed and small businesses who are captive of the Government’s taxes but (unlike politicians and big business) are open to the full force of the market place and thus squeezed between the two.
Unlike big business and big unions (both of whom financed Blair’s election) they cannot decide their own income, they cannot go on strike without bankrupting themselves, they have to provide for their own pensions and they find that they are heavily taxed. They are highly taxed not because they are making a lot of money but because Labour and Tory Governments have resorted to ever-higher indirect taxes like fuel taxes, VAT and excise duties pthat are unrelated to their incomep. They are forced to pay 80% tax rates before they even start work in the morning. This is not only nonsense in capitalist markets; it is also against the socialist principle of “from each according to his abilities”.
Government spending is out of control and modern politicians know they will lose votes if they raise income tax and they will lose donations from big business if they raise corporation tax. They therefore put the burden on the consumer and small business, particularly in the form of fuel and road taxes because they think we will notice them less than income taxes! As a result all those businesses and individuals for whom a car or van or lorry is the only means to their livelihood or those who live in the countryside or those who deliver goods by road become the arbitrary targets of unfair taxes. Whereas income and corporation taxes are even handed, applying equally to all who are making money, indirect taxes are arbitrary and hit even those who are losing money.
It is time politicians did what they urge the rest of us to do – accept the consequences of their own spending decisions - and pay the political price in higher taxes on income. Then we would really see what support there is for “generous” Government spending!
The Times of 1st November claimed that if the government acts to reduce fuel duties then this would indicate that a “well organized mob had obliged the Government to recast its priorities”.
First, it was not a mob in a violent protest but a group of desperate businessmen (who, unlike trade unionists, MPs or large corporations are constrained by market forces and unable to compensate for a rise in costs with a rise in income) whom others in the same position (i.e. petrol tanker drivers) were happy to support by legally withdrawing their labour.
Second the fiscal principle at stake in this crisis seems to have been grasped by nobody. This is not surprising since both Labour and Tory parties are responsible for massive increases in indirect taxes which apply anything between 17.5% and 75% tax rates to those who are not only not making profits but are losing money (and even to the unemployed!). The crisis will continue until Governments have the guts to accept that their uncontrolled expenditure must be financed by overt higher income and corporation taxes rather than ever-higher covert indirect taxes on goods and services (and the massive distortions of the highly sensitive price mechanism which they entail).