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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Labour Party taxing Britons to death

AP: Britons hit by new 'sin taxes'

A huge shopping bag is placed on the statue of late rock legend Freddie Mercury, outside central London's Dominion Theatre, Thursday March 13, 2008. The statue decorating the theatre which plays host to the Queen-Ben Elton musical 'We Will Rock You', will sport a giant sized shopping bag to deliver a message against the use of plastic bags. Britons were up in arms on Thursday about the imposition of 'sin taxes' that will increase the cost of alcohol, cigarettes, gas-guzzling cars and, potentially, plastic bags. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) [It's so effin' SILLY!!!! Am I the only one who thinks this whole lets-save-the-world campaign is getting ridiculous?! Like, seriously?!]

LONDON - Many Britons were resigning themselves to more puritanical lifestyles Thursday as they faced the prospect of "sin taxes" that will increase the cost of alcohol, cigarettes, gas-guzzling cars and, potentially, plastic bags.

"Don't Drink or Drive" trumpeted the Sun newspaper after Treasury chief Alistair Darling unveiled the measures on Wednesday in the government's annual spending plan.

The Labour Party government is hoping that hiking taxes on booze will help curb Britain's binge-drinking culture.

But breakfast talk radio was abuzz with callers lamenting the potential death of Britain's pub scene, with the tax hike coming less than a year after the government imposed a smoking ban in all public buildings.

"They put more on alcohol because they think there's going to be binge-drinking, but it won't stop. It just stops people going in pubs," said Sarah Thomas, 33, a teacher trainer smoking a rolled tobacco cigarette outside The Goose pub in central London.

From this weekend, alcohol duties will rise by 6 percent above inflation — meaning an extra 8 cents for a pint of beer, which already costs about $6 in an average London pub.

They will go up around 26 cents for a bottle of wine and a whopping $1.10 a bottle for spirits such as whisky.

The duties will then rise by another 2 percent above inflation in each of the next four years, reversing a trend in previous budgets to keep increases low for most alcohol products. Duties on spirits were frozen for the past 10 years to boost British spirit makers' competitiveness, accounting for the large jump this year.

A packet of cigarettes, already a steep $11.20, will rise by 22 cents.

The first budget under Prime Minister Gordon Brown also planned to reward ecologically minded voters by imposing higher taxes on heavier polluting cars from 2010.

The increases — to be charged at the point of sale and in higher road taxes — mean that many family cars, along with gas-guzzling vehicles and sports cars will come with larger price tags and be more expensive to drive.

George Osborne, the opposition Conservative Party spokesman said the plans would unfairly target hardworking families who need large vehicles like SUVs.

"Labour's economic incompetence means a rising cost of living for the very people they said they would help," said Osborne.

The government will also begin imposing a charge on single-use plastic bags next year — a measure already in place in Ireland — if supermarkets and other stores don't make "sufficient progress" to voluntarily reduce their use by the end of this year.

The government said money raised by a plastic bag levy would go to environmental charities, while that from alcohol and cigarette taxes would help fund a $2 billion package to tackle child poverty.

But Steve Thompson, 39, an air conditioning engineer enjoying a lunch break with a cigarette and a half-pint of beer outside the Melton Mowbray pub in central London, wasn't buying the government's social plan.

"They know that people who are addicted can't quit smoking but they still tax it and get their revenue for it," said Thompson. "They're crooks. They waste taxpayers' money terribly."

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the government was "shooting itself in the foot" because it would lose revenue if pubs are forced to close.

"The government is punishing all beer drinkers rather than tackling the minority of drunken hooligans," Hayward said.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association said that as British costs rises faster than in continental Europe, more people will simply go abroad for the cheaper prices, particularly on wine. The new charges will tax wine at nearly $3 a bottle — the highest in the European Union and well above the 4 cents charged in France.

With Britons already facing rising prices for food and other basic amid the gloom caused by the global credit crunch, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said the new taxes were a form of punishment.

"It is bizarre at a time when the economy is slowing, prices are rising and many families are feeling the pinch, that the government should choose to add to their burden by making the simple pleasure of a glass of wine or spirits considerably more expensive," said the association's chief executive Jeremy Beadles.

Other news:
Congress endorses post-Bush tax hikes
Both houses of Congress endorsed the idea of tax increases for millions of Americans Thursday as Democrats pressed ahead with budget plans that would allow some or all of President Bush's reductions to die after he leaves office...

New York Gov. Spitzer resigns but more woes likely
It's a stunning change of fortune for Spitzer, who in his previous post as the state's chief prosecutor aggressively pursued wrongdoing on Wall Street. His disgrace was cheered by some financial power brokers who resented what they considered his heavy-handed and self-righteous ways...


Anonymous said...

I guess the lefty elitists in British parliament are bound and determined to marginalize more of their population. This is the sign of a self loathing government affected by the disease of nanny state politics. They expect the citizens to feel guilty about the things they enjoy. I think the government should be held accountable for the spending of currency gleaned from these taxes.
I agree that we should address pollution in a general sense (not global warming) but what the eco-freaks suggest is unfathomable to any reasonable human being.
These people hate capitalism, freedom, and democracy and the U.S. for supporting such "practices". They defer all decsions and authority to the state. I wish the notion of the communist panacea would finally die already.