Monday, May 23, 2011

Cause and effect

Cause and effect. It's a simple idea that most children over the age of 5 can grasp. Put a finger in a flame and it burns. So you don't do it again. The government in England could learn a thing or two from 5 year olds when it comes to petrol prices. Currently they're at around £1.40 per litre - about $10 per gallon in US equivalent. Thats the cause. The resultant effect would seem obvious to even the least educated person: record numbers of cars having their fuel lines cut and petrol stolen, and record numbers of drive-offs from petrol stations. The best way to prevent drive offs would be to force everyone to pay at the pump. If you don't swipe a card in the pump, you don't get petrol. Of course in the muddy backwaters of a place where everything is broken, that's too obvious so instead, UK petrol stations have invested tens of thousands in cameras and numberplate-reading technology. That's another cause. Effect in this case? People now put fake numberplates on and still drive off without paying. Frankly it's a wonder anything works in England any more. The lunacy surrounding petrol prices is just the tip of the iceberg.


Anonymous said...

Here in Iowa, you either have to pay with a credit card in advance, or you have to pre-pay with cash inside the station.

Stuart Cuthbertson said...

It's really not all that bad here. Pay-at-pump is becoming more frequent, as two of the major supermarket chains (Morrisons and Tesco) are gradually installing it at their stations.

Yes, it probably is a much better solution than the whole numberplate recognition thing. However, that technology's not present at as many stations as you'd think - mostly those on motorways and in large cities.

That all said, there's no need to paint Britain in so bad a light as you do. One particular economic measure is not a measure of the whole country's well-being.

Yes, petrol prices are high, but it's also having the effect of dissuading people from driving short-distance journeys that they could walk/bike/bus. E.g., I definitely see far fewer parents on school runs on my daily commute than I did 18 months ago. That itself is a cause having the effect of reducing the UK's carbon footprint a helluva lot more than the US's right now (per capita).

So don't get all high and mighty without considering some other angles, mmm?