From time to time you hear a familiar tale about how X has not bought a TV license because X does not have a television, but about how the TV license people are nevertheless harassing X mercilessly. X tells them repeatedly that he has no TV, but it makes no difference, and a sum of money way in excess of the license fee being unjustly demanded is consumed in fatuous bureaucratic intimidation. Why don’t they say it honestly? The TV license is not a license to watch TV. It is a tax on all householders and all households, regardless of TV ownership or watching habits.
Well, here is a new tweak on the old story. Now they are inflicting this idiocy upon John Redwood, who does watch TV in his main home, but who has no TV in his London pad. Not only is John Redwood an MP and a former (and perhaps soon to be again) cabinet minister. He is also a blogger, and quite a good one:
Governments should assume honest conduct by citizens unless there is evidence to suppose otherwise, and should have a framework of sensible laws and requirements that most people most of the time respect and wish to follow. As soon as government becomes heavy handed and imposes too many laws – and too many laws that do not seem reasonable to the governed – there is more chance that more people will deliberately or inadvertently break them, and more likelihood that government will then intensify its snooping and heavy handed enforcement. Such a progress makes public life coarser, and creates a growing gap between government and governed. The UK now is suffering from rapacious government, seeking ever larger sums of revenue to feed the bureaucratic monster. It will in turn create an angrier electorate, resentful of how the money is spent and cross about the bullying techniques used to extract it.
That “now” makes this sound like a recent development. The posting as a whole is entitled: “Now they want us to pay for services we do not receive!”, as if a government charging for something it doesn’t do is a new idea invented by Gordon Brown which Redwood has only just noticed. But since Redwood is a party politician, he is obliged to spread the idea that there are simple party political causes of and cures for such woes. Apart from that, good posting.