Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ordinary Life; Politics; Driving and Things - Difficult but not Grey

The return of  wet weather and grey skies even before the official end of British Summer Time could be a reminder of the greyness of everyday life. In fact 2012 in the past few weeks  as  my earlier blog posts  record has been a really memorable year  despite the fact that for the first time for many years a normal summer holiday has not been possible.

Interesting that the maytrees' family  decision a couple of years or so back to forgo owning a car for various reasons, the principal two of which  were and are concern about the need for more  greeness in modern living and  the huge cost of running and maintaining a car, are still resulting in our now  not owning a motor car at all.

I can understand different viewpoints and priorities applying to the notion of 'green' in individuals' lives but the basic cost of running a car these days seems to me be to be almost prohibitive. Insurance is say c. £1,000 or more annually and as for maintenance and repair costs... Petrol locally is on sale at about 140 pence a litre yet the volume of traffic on the roads indicates that many people do not find that basic cost prohibitive. We were visiting my aged Ps today and often would rent a Streetcar (now Zipcar) for the afternoon. However having ascertained that the hiring cost is currently  around £30 for around 4.5 hours plus around 22 pence a mile  we decided instead to travel by public transport. The car journey takes about 35  minutes but     the 65 minutes  total time on the  (two) bus(es)  was not too bad and of course there was then no difficulty about enjoying a glass of wine or  3 with mum dad and a younger sister.  I fear though that  car ownership will again be essential should the aged Ps' health so determine but that's a different matter. The bus cost c. £2 but even that  cost should end soon courtesy of the Mayor of London.

A remarkable feature for me however was the fact that the buses were easily available quite fast and some were almost empty yet the roads were crowded with people driving in the rain presumably to the shopping centres. For people living in rural areas or requiring cars for work there is little choice but many  now live in cities and towns where presumably driving from A to B by car is not always really necessary.

Yet in this season of UK  political party conferences  the talk is not about weaning people away from cars but about increasing the taxes on the 'rich' who are of course  always other people.. Maybe there are enough rich not paying enough tax to cover the financial  wishes if not  needs, of the rest of us so all the Lib Dems need to do is to  ask the rich  to pay more - but I doubt it.

Many if not most adults own cars so  increasing car taxation and  considering new laws impinging on car ownership and use will be hugely unpopular. Yet  in my view until  this is done and this is hardly a peculiarly British problem, the world and its people will  continue to lose out especially the poorest.

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