Fuel Crisis

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What's you're take on all this. Are you in favour of the protests and their cause, do you take the environmental angle, or, like I'm getting to be, do you just not care?!

-- Tim (tim@almighty.co.uk), September 13, 2000


I was *not* caring until the hike in fuel prices here (Bangkok, Thailand) means a hike in public transportation costs. Oi, for people like me who don't drive and rely on public transportation, that really, really sucks. I don't care if car drivers have to suffer--it's their fault the prices are going up, gum dang it. I'm one of those conscientious (did I spell that right? Oh well, you know what I mean) people who take advantage of public transportation! I should not have to suffer.

Um, okay. That's it.

-- Rasee (raseeg@hotmail.com), September 13, 2000.

"Too many people use petrol, so prices should be high"? Surely the more wasteful people are, the less they should be able to charge? It's not very environmental or resourceful, but if anything, excess use should lower the cost. And, noble as car sharing and use of public transport are, it's very nice to decide exactly where you're going and when. Having spent seven months relying on lifts, I must have spent in total seven days lingering in the office after 5.30. Blah.

Having said that, I'm glad most of the blockades are over (except the one down south somewhere, which doesn't bother me!) I'm starting to feel increasingly housebound, and when the weather gets too cold for my parents to walk to work, we'll all start driving ourselves crazy and killing each other. (As it is, my brother is threatening death, since I've spent so much time watching the news.)

However, I'm not entirely thrilled about the way it's ending: gradually, and by Tony Bleurgh's declaration that "real people are suffering". Firstly, what's a fake person? Secondly, it's true that the blockade is causing inconvenience and could cost lives, but most of the public (Tim excluded) are in favour of reduced taxes. You notice the main reason for refusal to lower prices is the way the protest's been carried out - "We cannot let this sort of activity sway policy" - not any genuine evidence that taxes are reasonable? On Tuesday, El Chancellor was trying to baffle everyone with a string of calculations revealing that the percentage of tax is less now than it used to be, given the increased cost of oil itself, but he wouldn't repeat that, on the grounds that someone mathematically inclined might be watching the news.

I also think it could be ended much more rapidly if T.B. just said, "All right, we'll consider lowering taxes when we review the budget." He doesn't even have to follow through with this promise, but it would end the blockade once and for all, and straight away. Since I'll be setting out on a 400-mile-journey in five days' time, I consider this rather crucial.

As for the next election, well. It depends on when it is, and if Bleurgh wins a war (or does reduce taxes) just beforehand, no doubt he'll stay in power. However, people have been disillusioned by this New Labour business since it started, and this, at present, is the nail in the coffin (if you'll pardon the cliche). Not that there's much of an alternative in Mr Hague (blarg, I thought the Americans had a bad choice of leaders, but ours is equally pants), but believe me, if I was old enough to run for Prime Minister, I would. I'd be head of the Geen Party, I think.

Bleurgh has made a serious misjudgement of the country's mood. He's trying to put the protestors in a bad light, saying they're causing trouble for the "real people", but they've happily stopped now. They've done nothing illegal, just presented their feelings in a stronger manner than negotiation, which was bound to fail. Have the government even spoken to the protestors in the last few days? Noooooo. Labour seem to think that just because people voted for them, they know what's best. No, they were voted for because they promised better things than the Conservatives, only for all sorts of taxes to be increased and benefits cut. Taxing the rich is one thing, but all social classes use cars to the same extent. If anything, the poor moreso than the super-rich, since they can travel everywhere by Concorde. Mimph.

Ok, rant over, I agree, it is sort of amusing. I especially like the fact that one of the refineries is called "Cattedown".

-- Zed (zed@swansongs.net), September 14, 2000.

I'm torn between finding the protesters funny, and being pissed off by them. On the one hand, everyone seems to have missed the point that fuel *has* to be taxed, and that the government is not responsible for the increase in fuel prices - OPECK (sp?) is. If the government is forced to bring fuel prices down, the cut will come not from the price of the fuel itself, but from the taxes. That means that it'll be things which are paid for from taxes, such as the NHS, libraries and schools, which suffer. Fair, I think not.

Personally it annoys me because I uphold my right to drive a car, which I haven't been able to do for the last couple of days, and I've been worried that I won't be able to get to university, 200 miles away, this weekend. On the other hand, I can see the funny side, especially now they've largely stopped.

-- Helen (breathe@oceanic.nu), September 14, 2000.

From an American perspective, we would probably side with protesters because of the ridiculously high gas tax. Believe it or not, there are very few toll roads in the United States, and most of the tolls on those roads go towards maintaining only the toll roads, rather than supporting the rest of the highway system. It is possible to travel from New York to Los Angeles without paying any tolls, and the states set their gas taxes individually. For example, while New York's average fuel price is about $1.65 per gallon right now, Georgia, who has one of the lowest gas taxes in the U.S., has an average fuel price around $1.45.

So, yeah, it's complicated. I just know that Americans would be putting up a huge stink if our gas taxes ever got that high. We just like to drive. Heck, I like to drive.

It also doesn't help that we have so many gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles that only get about 17 miles to the gallon, when European cars are much more fuel-efficient. But that's another story.

-- Chris (chriso1281@aol.com), September 15, 2000.

Hehe, it's fun to see ver' important government people run around like headless Marjories.... aka. chickens... And I walk anyway... but it's all over now... ????????????????????? So am I. Farewell!

-- Anni (minihexe@aaaargh.com), September 16, 2000.

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