Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Right to Park


As the Tories take a 22% lead in the latest opinion poll and get close to the magical 50% rating, what are Labour doing? Yes they are praising Karl Marx, promising to put taxes up, carefully avoiding saying that they won't put VAT up on certain key items and offering us all free car parking if we visit hospital.

This last promise in particular is especially facile even for Chauncey's Labour. If the NHS is under the sort of pressure they suggest it is then wouldn't the money be better spent on something more life saving that free car parking? Cancer drugs? Shorter waiting times for surgery? Nope. It's much more important to save people a fiver on their stay in a car park apparently, although what happens if the hospital is in a town centre is not revealed.

I've never really understood this beef that many have with the cost of car parking in NHS car parks. You get your treatment for free. You get the services of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, radiologists, any number of other gists not to mention free hospital meals laid on for nothing. You don't even get charged if you miss your appointment without bothering to call up and cancel it. Now you want free car parking too?

Labour always tell us proudly that the NHS is their creation and one they are determined to defend, especially as they can't think of anything else to talk about in election after election. But in so doing they also created the kind of unreasonable expectations that lead people to complain that they are being charged a going rate to park their cars when using all of these services.

It's the age old problem of giving people an entitlement and then finding it impossible to remove once handed out. So the benefits system is unwieldy and out of control thanks to successive governments handing out benefits to their particular constituencies even to the point of handing out benefits to people who are working as was done by the last Labour government. This had the effect of undermining their own policy of the minimum wage. More employers saw this as a maximum wage to be paid, a kind of officially sanctioned ceiling. This was especially the case since the government handed out benefits in the form of tax credits to poorer workers. This represented a subsidy not to the employees but the employers. It is the age old law of unintended consequences once again biting politicians, although there is a reason that this law tends to bite left wing politicians harder than those on the right. It's because left wing politicians tend to think that state interference is bound to lead to desirable outcomes, that government by fiat will always work. It usually doesn't.

Labour and Chauncey's latest bright idea then is to pay for free hospital parking by hiking a tax on private medical insurance. You do not have to be an economist to work out the problem with this. Only people as inimical to logic and arithmetic as the Labour hierarchy cannot immediately see the problem. Sensibly governments should encourage people to opt out of using the under pressure NHS by cutting the cost of private medical insurance. But no. That's not Labour's way. They prefer to drive people out of private health and into the overcrowded arms of the NHS. Best of all their policy will not only force more people to use the NHS, they won't be able to find a parking space when they get there. I bet even Karl Marx would have spotted the flaw in that line of reasoning.

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