Matthew Sinclair, chief non-job holder at the so-called Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) has demonstrated his expertise and versatility by bringing out a new book called Let Them Eat Carbon. And he has secured a few column inches from the usual suspects within the Fourth Estate. Seasoned TPA watchers, though, may have experienced a sense of déjà vu on encountering this supposedly original work.
This may be due to Sinclair's first choice subject - that of road vehicle fuel duty - having been discussed in a TPA "research note" titled "Excessive Motoring Taxes" [.pdf] back in January. The new spin he has applied is to declare that fuel duty is a "green tax", and, having substituted "Green" for "Motoring", brings us "Excessive Green Taxes" instead. So much for originality.
The only significant difference between the January "research note" and Sinclair's supposedly original new book is that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is not part of the calculation, and removing the £5.6 billion estimate from the equation means his "excess" figures are not too far apart from one another (£12.3 billion in January versus £13.2 billion now).
And, as I pointed out at the time, this "excess taxes" assertion is plainly fraudulent. In January, there was a fog of waffle over "Pigovian taxes" to obscure that fact: now it is the re-labelling of fuel duty as a "green tax". In both cases, the objective is to show that motorists are being excessively taxed, while ignoring many of the costs to the wider economy of running and maintaining the road network.
Adding in the cost of congestion, the total value of prevention of road accidents, and Police and court costs, as I noted at the time, gives an extra £57.5 billion additional annual cost, far outweighing the supposed "excess" trumpeted so loudly by Sinclair and uncritically swallowed by the eager churnalists at both Mail and Express. Those looking for originality and balance will be sorely disappointed.
Because what Let Them Eat Carbon gives every appearance of being, is a bogus book, filled with bogus figures, and authored by a bogus expert. Discerning purchasers should desist from wasting their hard earned cash on it.
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