You have to wonder if the political spin doctors ever read their own stuff. This morning, the BBC reported that the British Government is to allow rail fares to rise by 8%. This is based on a new formula which will enable train companies to increase ticket prices by the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%.
It’s apparent that the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition is begging for a general election sooner, rather than later. Why should these companies be permitted to raise their prices by so much during a time when wages have barely risen or have been frozen altogether?
The rationale is that these increases will “reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the rail network. Pardon?
The last time I checked, the passengers were also taxpayers.
So, what the Government is really saying is that if they reduce the subsidy they’re paying to the train companies, then they’ll have more money to spend elsewhere.
Now let me be perfectly clear. Taxes should not be used to prop up the private sector. That’s what market forces are all about. Supply and demand. If the customers want it, they’ll pay for it. If they don’t, then the company will have to lower its prices, provide so much more value that consumers feel its worth the price, or go out of business.
But to suggest that by charging taxpayers at the point of use will somehow decrease the amount they’ll have to spend is ludicrous. It’s akin to saying that by robbing Peter to pay Paul, Peter will somehow be better off. In this case, the only thing withdrawing the subsidy will do is make it more expensive for travellers and leave more money in the Government’s coffers.
We can call a spade, a spade. If any democratic government is unable to do so, perhaps we should help them get a better perspective . . . by voting them out of office.
Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol
Work Psychologist & Business Coach