Timmy Elsewhere

At the ASI.

Introducing the Lifeboat Test.

As you know, the RNLI gets no public funds. We can therefore use that as a litmus test for whether something should get public funds. If it\’s more important than lifeboats, then maybe. If less, then no way. The Royal Opera House? No, less important than lifeboats, sink or swim on your own mate. State funding of political parties? Bugger off. London Underground? Maybe.

6 comments on “Timmy Elsewhere

  1. London Underground? Not a chance. Like all other forms of transport, it should be funded by those who use it. It that means higher fares, then so be it. If you want it, you pay for it.

  2. The depressing thing is how many things that pass the lifeboat test (policing, properly equipping and looking after the armed forces) are not funded by government.

  3. Mark; no, but those whose use of it benefits others are able to include its cost to them in their charges to others, in the same way that Tesco include the cost of vehicle excise duty for its truck fleet in its shelf prices.

  4. Ian, OK, think about the shops and businesses etc near Tube Stations. It’s quite possible that they benefit enormously from passing trade, without the owners taking the Tube (they might be posh and drive a car or they might live within walking distance).

    Or think about people who owned properties in East London back in the 1990s, when the Jubilee Line extension and the DLR were announced (let alone built) – their properties shot up in value because they knew they could charge more rent (in future).

    Or imagine car drivers, if some people stop using their cars and get on the Tube, then that benefits car and lorry drivers who can’t or won’t use the Tube.

    And so on.

  5. Mark, I accept those examples (at least to the extent that refuting small details would occupy more time and space than we have) , but I don’t feel that they support the notion that those who neither use not benefit from a public transport system should still be obliged to pay for it. London Underground is the case that Tim cited, but the same argument applies to all public transport (and, indeed, all currently state-funded operations); if you don’t use it, you shouldn’t pay for it.

    You say that a driver benefits from the Tube when other drivers start to use it in preference to driving; but those new Tube users obviously benefit more – that’s why they changed, not to help other drivers.

    If I ran a restaurant next to my town’s publicly-funded theatre, I am possibly benefiting from it, but no more than I would from a privately-funded theatre. In fact, I don’t run a restaurant near the theatre, I just pay for the theatre without using it, while those who do use it benefit from my subsidy (and those of other rate-payers who don’t use it). This, in my opinion, is wrong.

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