I have been reading a lot about how successive governments undermined the then dynamic private education sector that was galloping apace in nineteenth century England. The state’s usurpations were incremental, but devastating in their consequence.
Making education free destroyed private education for all but the very richest. In order to make it free, money had to come from somewhere, and on this occasion it was largely through regressive taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. In effect, the poor lost all their previous power as consumers. This story is repeated across many current functions of government throughout the world.
It was therefore highly disappointing to read Policy Exchange’s report calling for “tobacco duty to be progressively increased”. Incredibly, they claim: “every single cigarette smoked costs the country 6.5 pence”. By incredible, I of course mean it is literally not credible, as Matthew Sinclair’s broadside on ConservativeHome makes abundantly clear (NB. It is also worth watching the excellent Simon Clark of FOREST take a representative of ASH to pieces here on a related subject).
Which leads to the question that every freedom-loving individual in the UK is asking themselves – and others – in these uncertain times: can this awful state of affairs be turned around? Only time will tell, but clearly the principal ingredient missing at present are the politicians and political party with the pedigree to stand athwart history, yelling stop!