Being taken for a ride …..

The UK government are now condemning diesel engines as being extremely dangerous, toxic and that they are the cause of ailments, including asthma. A procession of scientists are eager to support the theory, however I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit late in the day, considering that the authorities have been insisting its the best option for decades.

Motorists have been actively encouraged to purchase diesel engine motors, for improved fuel economy and without any particular warning of them producing significant pollution. That is until now. In particular, City officials are threatening to put an extra charge on vehicles using the fuel.

Instead of questioning why every solution to a problem inevitably requires the public to pay a tax, we put up with it. Is there nothing we can do? There is, but it would mean becoming slightly more involved in politics than most of us would like to do. Local councillors are elected by a tiny percentage of the population that lives in each ward. This is because most of us can’t be bothered or don’t care. This low turnout for council elections works in the favour of local businessmen that don’t prioritise your interests. Any businessman or woman that wants to be elected will invariably have one eye on their own interests.

That’s not to say they all think like that. Some councillors are genuinely concerned with improving the lives of everyone in their locality. They get a basic pay of £13,000 but if they are installed as head of a department, they can get quite a bit more. It appears that many of them are paid extra money for the various authorities they are on too. They complain that they have to be available 24/7 but I doubt many are bothered that much out of normal working hours. If it provided a very poor existence, no one would put themselves up for election.

These people are on the first rung of the political ladder and the most vulnerable to controversial local issues. To get a grip on politicians in general, these local officials need to be much more carefully installed. We’ve all had the flyers for council elections and we’ve all binned them but it’s the only way we can influence policies on a local level. It doesn’t seem much but it’s a start.

Back to the diesel issue….

I have a vested interest here, so far as it’s the type of engine in my own car, but my issue isn’t because of this, it’s because I am suspicious of how long the experts have known about the detrimental effects.

Scientific reviews and surveys tend to carry a lot of weight in convincing us of what might be harmful of harmless. Huge corporations don’t throw their money down the drain when they have scientific reviews of how their product affects humans or if their working practices might harm the environment. They make sure they get a scientist who will come to a conclusion that’s favourable. Climate change scientists still haven’t explained why they left certain information out of a report and actually changed data so that it would support their conclusion that global warming was becoming an imminent threat. If the evidence is so overwhelming, there would be no need to change anything, just tell it as it is. Not all scientific results are regarded as compelling evidence. When the Lancet produced a survey that claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis had died in the western invasion and aftermath, it was roundly condemned by (mainly) the people who initiated the war.

Putting aside the apparent scientific ‘blind spot’ that occurred, another aspect of this particular diesel controversy in the UK is about city congestion and the efforts to relieve it. Again, this is a ruse. Public transport is already subsidised, the exact amounts are difficult to ascertain. Private companies now run the train services and manage to give shareholders their annual dividend, so why are they still subsidised? Private bus companies are subsidised to run unpopular or sparsely used routes and just like the train service, they charge exorbitant fares. If the government were serious about reducing traffic congestion and pollution, they would want to keep the cost of public transport down.

Bus companies where I live, which is rural, are given £2.2 million from local authorities as well as £5.2 from central government. Thousands of times I’ve seen double decker buses travelling around with few passengers, or none at all. I always wonder why they don’t use single decker buses or even smaller ones for the routes that don’t get much use. Part of the problem is that it would cost a bus user almost as much to go on a journey as they would use in fuel, using their own car. So despite the huge subsidies they are still expensive to use. If government were serious about reducing personal transport usage, the cost of public transport wouldn’t keep escalating. The cost of a train journey here is pure extortion. Another aspect to consider is that virtually all buses use diesel fuel and so do some trains.

Unless we are prepared to take more interest in politics, both on a local and national basis, we will be at the mercy of many officials that simply don’t have our interests at heart and are simply looking out for themselves. Unfortunately, it’s only retired people that generally have the time to research the performance of local elected politicians. It needs interest from all age groups and from different types of people to shake things up. As long as we are too busy to look outside of our own personal environment, the ruling class will be able control, and to some degree suppress us, whilst making sure they do very nicely.



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