Greatly encouraged this week to read Bill Carmichael in the Yorkshire Post. I suppose one ought to expect this kind of no-nonsense approach from a Yorkshireman …
"So-called "green" taxes are a con.
They have absolutely nothing to do with saving the planet, or changing people's behaviour. It is all about raising revenue.
Governments around the world have realised that environmentalism gives them an easy way of squeezing yet more tax out of hard-working people. And if you object, you are supposed to feel guilty about drowning polar bears.
"Green" taxes also impact most heavily on the poor. This isn't an accident, it is a deliberate policy. Take, for example, motoring. The only way of reducing the numbers of cars is by forcing the less-affluent off the roads. This is what increases in fuel duty and car tax are partly designed to achieve.
Of course, some people will simply give up driving, but for many, they have little choice - particularly those with large families, or who live in a rural area, or who need a car to get to work. Tough, say the environmentalists, pay up and stop moaning. Think of the polar bears.
Same with air travel. The green agenda is to stop the less-affluent from flying by making it so expensive that only the rich can afford it. But it won't stop Al Gore jetting around the globe lecturing us lesser mortals about the evils of flying.
A perfect example of this "green" tax con is the £200 increase in car tax on so-called "gas guzzlers" due to be introduced next year. It will be imposed not just on high-performance cars and vast 4x4s, but on ordinary family vehicles, too. It is also retrospective, so if you bought a car seven years ago and can't afford to change it, you'll be hit by an enormous tax rise. As I said, it is nothing to do with changing your behaviour. It is all about making you pay more tax.
Richer people won't be put off driving by a few extra pence on fuel duty. Prince Charles won't be giving up the Aston Martin any time soon, and don't expect to see well-heeled eco warriors such as Jonathon Porritt or Lord Melchett shivering at the bus stop at six on a winter's morning.
Last year, a study by the Taxpayers' Alliance found that "green" taxes raised £21.9bn in 2005 (the figure will be much higher today), but the social cost of carbon emissions was estimated at just £11.7bn. The difference - a whopping £10bn a year - was simply pocketed by the Chancellor. Not a penny of it went to the polar bears.
Green issues are just an excuse to tax us more. They are not trying to save the planet - they just want to pick your pocket."
Oh yes, Bill, you keep telling it like it is! We think you'd be a worthy recipient of the Grumpy Old Sod Medal for Meritorious Grumpiness. If there were such a thing, that is.
But not content with that, Bill now sets his sights on international matters …
"Former US President Jimmy Carter was in the UK this week where he lambasted Europe over our treatment of the Palestinians. It was a disgrace that Palestinian children were suffering from malnutrition, he said.
Are these the same Palestinians who receive more than $1bn in aid from European taxpayers every year?
In fact, the Palestinians are far and away the largest recipients of foreign aid world wide, dwarfing even the poverty-stricken countries of Africa and Asia. Last year, the international community agreed to give the Palestinians $7.7bn over three years - or about $640 a year for every man, woman and child in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In contrast, Burkina Faso receives about $44 per head, per year; Angola $35; Bangladesh $8.6; Burundi $42 and Ethiopia $20.
If the vast riches given to the Palestinians were spent on feeding the poor, encouraging businesses and building new schools, hospitals and roads, it would lead to prosperity and perhaps peace. Instead, much of the aid has been stolen by kleptocrats, such as Yasser Arafat, and the rest has been used to fund terrorism and in indoctrinating children with racist propaganda.
The fact that our money is so shamefully misused is the real disgrace."
The GOS says: Yup, Medal and Bar, I think.
While on the subject of Palestine, let's just spare a thought for their neighbours in Israel. You remember Israel? … small country? … totally surrounded by enemies who have sworn to drive them into the sea? … artificially created by the Western nations after the war, and now stuck there (I mean - where would they go even if they wanted to?) … constantly under attack from rockets and suicide bombs, and pilloried by the international community whenever they strike back?
I'm not particularly keen on carrying a torch for Israel (the most unpleasant group of people I ever met were a troupe of Israeli folk-dancers with whom I had the misfortune to share accommodation at an arts festival. They were noisy, arrogant, selfish and aggressive) but the fact is, we put them where they are today, and I think that gives us something of a responsibility for supporting them, or at least not joining in their persecution.
So this article by Melanie Phillips in the Spectator last Wednesday (28th May 08) was interesting …
"British universities' witch-hunt against the Jews
Today, the Universities and Colleges Union is discussing whether universities should single out Israeli and Jewish scholars for active discrimination. Yes, you read that correctly. The UCU is debating a motion which not only raises the spectre yet again of an academic boycott of Israel but demands of Jewish and Israeli academics that they explain their politics as a pre-condition to normal academic contact. The motion asks colleagues to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating ... the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions ... Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.
The implication is that, if they don't condemn Israel for the "occupation", or practising "apartheid", "genocide" or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel's door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won't be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted. The views they are being bludgeoned into expressing as a condition of their employment are based on lies, distortion, propaganda, gross historical ignorance, blood libels and prejudice. And this in the universities, supposedly the custodians of free thought and inquiry in the service of dispassionate scholarship.
What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Israelis and Jews alone who are being singled out for this treatment. No other group is to be barred from academic activity unless they hold "approved" views; no state-run educational institution controlled by any of the world's numerous tyrannies is to be "grey-listed". The UCU's own rules state that it actively opposes all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.
Well, various Jewish groups in the Stop the Boycott campaign have obtained a legal opinion from two QCs which states that today's motion constitutes harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination on grounds of race or nationality. It says: If the Motion is passed it would expose Jewish members of the Union to indirect discrimination ... additionally, the Union faces potential liability for acts of harassment on grounds of race or nationality. The substance of the Motion may also involve the Union in becoming accessories to acts of discrimination in an employment context against Israeli academics ... no doubt, if such Israeli academics speak in favour of the Palestinian viewpoint they will be immune from further action; if they are against it or possibly even non-committal they and their institutions are to be considered potentially unsuitable subjects for continued association...
The Union will accordingly be adopting a provision, criterion or practice which will put Jewish members at a particular disadvantage compared to non-Jewish members. That is because Jewish members are much more likely to have links with Israeli academics and institutions than non -Jewish members. To require Jewish members to act consistently with the Motion (if passed) would be to impose a professional detriment upon them as Union members which is based on their race. If they acted inconsistently with the Motion, we infer that they would also be subject to disadvantage or sanction under the Union rules or practices -- an alternative detriment. We do not see how any such detriment would be justified as pursuing a legitimate aim. No proper Union purpose is promoted by imposing this detriment on certain members. Thus the Motion will have the effect of indirectly - and unlawfully - against Jewish members of the Union.
The opinion is thus unequivocal. Today's motion breaks the law; it breaks the UCU's own rules; it is prejudiced, discriminatory and unjust towards Israelis and Jews. But the motion also notes legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful.
In other words, two fingers to the Jews. Such is the disgusting and terrifying state to which Britain's intelligentsia has now descended."
The result of last week's vote was that the motion was passed. It's all a bit puzzling as last September the UCU decided not to debate or vote on this issue because it was illegal to do so.
Yet now they have.
Still, there is a bright side. If you Google the UCU you'll find they're just a sad bunch of losers nobody takes seriously anyway, least of all the Israelis.
And we look forward with keen anticipation to the news that the first member of UCU has been arrested for "incitement to racial hatred" (Public Order Act 1986) when they try to put the boycott into effect.
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