I’ve been trying to think when was the last time that a minority group of people was systematically and relentlessly persecuted in the UK. Try as I might, I cannot think of any. Fuel, alcohol and tobacco duties have been around for a long, long time, and no one protested about them when the rate of duty was comparatively low. Also, there was a simple explanation – raising revenue from ‘luxuries’, and controlling imports when the UK economy was in a mess. None of them were ‘sin’ taxes.
Quite a controversy arose in the comments to an article at Samizdata:
It seems that the EU has imposed a regulation which requires that ‘baby formula’ must not be ‘promoted’. Some supermarkets charge a car parking fee, but if a shopper buys X amount of goods (say, £10), then he/she can get the car parking free. (I suppose that there are places where people might park their cars at the supermarket and go shopping elsewhere – I have done it many times! It may well be that there are places where such practices are a real nuisance) For some strange reason, ‘free parking’ can be regarded as a promotion. Right, I vaguely understand that a supermarket might ‘promote’ its business by offering free parking. But that is not promoting individual products. To say that free parking is a promotion of baby formula is irrational. Whatever…. It seems that the particular Tesco shop, or via Tesco policy, would not count baby formula as part of the total of purchases, and thus refused a shopper free parking. By the way, it seems that tobacco is treated in the same way – the cost of tobacco too is regarded as promotion of tobacco products.
Someone quoted the actual EU rule:
What the EU regulation actually says (article 10.2):
“There shall be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples or any other promotional device to induce sales of infant formula directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as special displays, discount coupons, premiums, special sales, loss-leaders and tie-in sales.” [My bold]
Note the words ‘such as’. And there’s the rub. ‘Such as’ does not exclude other interpretations.
So we could look at this situation from another direction. I suppose that there are those who would interpret free parking for buying cigarettes as DEFINITELY promoting tobacco. Do you see my point? Baby formula has been tared with the same brush as tobacco. If free parking is associated with tobacco as a promotion, then so must baby formula. It is a legal thing, and I suppose that Tesco took legal advice.
It is for this reason that a catastrophe is building up. Laws and regulations which seem, at first sight, to be reasonable, turn out to have terrible consequences in the long run. Hundreds, then thousands, then millions of little people are persecuted, sometimes in tiny ways. But they do not forget, and they tell their friends. A feeling of resentment builds up, but goes unnoticed for years and years because that resentment is spread over millions of individuals.
So why did the people of the UK vote for Brexit, and why did the people of the USA vote for Trump? It is ‘death by a thousand cuts’, but, in these cases, it is ‘death by millions of cuts’. Every time someone shrugs and says, “It’s the EU, innit”, another voter seethes. That is especially true of Parliament and politicians. It’s all about what individuals seethe about. So it is no use pundits asking individuals why they voted as they did and then extrapolating since every individual has his own reason for seething.
Smokers especially have been singled out for extermination. Tobacco control is ‘helping’ them into the extermination chambers. “Mind the step!”, they will cry.
The catastrophe began with the smoking ban, when millions of people, overnight, became ‘undesirables’. 20,000,000 cuts. The smoking ban was ‘a great success’ – yes, 20,000,000 people were ostracised and persecuted, and publicans were turned into executioners.
And there is the source of the catastrophe – the willingness of politicians to aid and abet the persecution and ostracism. Had the Government at the time, Blair and co, stood firm and demanded more proof that SHS was dangerous, the ban would never have become law. After all, Saint Richard Doll himself said that SHS was of no consequence. And for good reason. His studies had shown that, if smoking is indeed the culprit, ‘tobacco related diseases’ took decades to appear. People who might suffer from ‘SHS related diseases’ would be long dead before the ill-effects would appear. Occasionally, I suppose that an asthma suffer might accidentally enter a smoky bar and not notice the smoke. He might suffer some adverse effect because he did not notice that people were smoking or that there was smoke in the atmosphere. Perhaps he might be ‘smell blind and vision blind’. What is incredibly astonishing is that Blair et al could have easily solved the problem of the dangers of SHS by requiring that publicans supply bar staff with masks. The bar staff would not be required to wear the masks, but could do so if they were afraid of SHS.
But I make a serious point. People are sick to death of politicians mouthing politically correct slogans while nodding through EU directives – even those which the UK Gov voted against. So we get the situation where even the PM and the Cabinet shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s the EU, innit”.
But it goes even further. We have now arrived at a situation where it can be said, “It’s the FCTC Treaty, innit”, or even, “Its the UN, innit”.
Which brings me to Climate Control.
It is weird how much prominence the BBC has just given to a UN statement about Climate Change, just after Trump has become President Elect. Trump has said that he intends to regenerate the Energy Industry in the US by ignoring the Climate Change Zealots in the UN. So the UN rushed four well-dressed ‘spokespersons’ onto a stage to claim that the temperature of the climate has increased by 1.5 degrees C in the last 12 months and that Arctic ice is melting like billy-O. Of course, the claims will be found to be faulty, but only the claims will be publicised. The refutations will not.
Trump is brave. I hope that May is also brave. Never mind Mexican illegal immigrants – Trump should banish the UN from USA soil. De-fund them unless they move the whole operation to a third-world country. Enormous squeals would be emitted by those who work for the UN, and many a politician would squeal about the influence of the USA in world affairs, but the fact is that only THE MONEY which the USA pumps into the UN really matters. Banish the UN, WHO, IPCC, FCTC, etc to a shed somewhere in the Antarctic and let them experience global warming at first hand.
But will such a thing happen? Probably not, but Trump should take note of how the IPCC has attacked him and America. They have not attacked China, which opens coal-fired energy generators every other week. Nor have they attacked Russia, which produces masses of oil.
But (I have used a lot of ‘buts’ tonight!), the real problem with the UN is that it has been taken over by Zealots. When you think about it, the UN was always at risk from such a take-over. It was wide open to infiltration. Did politicians take their eyes off the ball once the cold war ended, and the threat of World War III receded? I think that they did. The UN, and particularly the Security Council, suddenly became of minor importance. That let in the influence and money of ‘The Foundations’. Like maggots, The Foundations and Big Pharma, a ‘stakeholder’, have eaten away at the being of the UN.
There is only one problem. It is that there are probably millions of jobs at stake. De-fund the UN and loads of jobs cease to exist. But one has to ask what value those jobs had. Perhaps a better way to look at the situation is to say that those jobs should never have existed in the first place.
So we could look at the situation and ask whether any particular job creates wealth or consumes wealth. Direct wealth creation and direct wealth consumption balance out. What that means is that productivity, via improved technologies etc, per worker, improves so that everyone benefits from the increased productivity. We all get richer and can buy stuff which we could not afford before. We can also afford more policemen to combat criminality. That idea, affording policemen, is very, very important. Prior to our ability to have policemen, the only way to prevent criminality was via penalties. ‘Hung for stealing a sheep’ was the reality.
Somehow, our vastly increased productivity has spawned massive waste of resources via all sorts of unproductive, or even antiproductive jobs. University professors who spend 10 hours per week teaching and spend 30 hours per week preaching spring to mind.
A MASSIVE shake-up is required if the catastrophic situation is to be averted. Brexit and Trump are only the start.