Shattered Dream Or No Surprise?

If you are British and have half a brain you will know full well that, one way or another, we are right royally ripped off from all sides all of the time. For example, some while ago the Utilities were ordered by toothless paper tigers (or ‘watchdogs’ as they are known) to simplify their power tariffs. What they actually did was change them. Make them different.

EON offer me annually a choice of five different tariffs and it falls to me to seek out the best one. Why not just give the customer one best price that fits all, allowing for fair profit? They don’t because that would be too easy for us and they would lose that extra dosh that complexity builds in.

Supermarkets, or as they like to crawlingly describe themselves, ‘Your Supermarket’, are no better. Two for one deals that are nothing of the sort. The strangulation of competition. The squeezing of suppliers. The fixing of prices. The public treated like a bovine herd of thickos to be milked. This is the reality. Artificially high rents. Soaring house prices. Dubious car insurance quotes: the list is endless and I could go on; so I will.

Are you waiting for the price of fuel to drop below one pound per litre? Don’t hold your breath. The prevailing circumstances in the oil market means that the price of crude had been dropping like a stone. To a degree this has been reflected at the pumps but there clearly seems to be a limit and it is my contention that in the UK the price of petrol and diesel will be artificially held to where it is about now. We’re not going to get a square deal when we know that inter-company collusion is a fact.

And then there’s Volkswagen. Oh dear. This topic has been at the top of the agenda for days. It’s had so much coverage that it’s a wonder the German auto giant is lying in an alleyway somewhere with its head kicked in. How mighty Volkswagen has fallen! But you’ve got to ask yourself, is it entirely their fault?

We know that politicians, when they see a bandwagon, will leap on it and dance to whatever tune is being played. That’s a given. Politicians will align themselves with any subject that they perceive will be in their best interests vote-wise. Climate change is just such a topic and it is a divisive one. At one end of the scale cold, worldly cynics say it is all a con whilst at the other the wild-eyed tree-huggers say that we’re all doomed unless something is done.

Administrations are persuaded right now that the latter is true. Our masters believe that we, the public, are all deeply concerned about the environment and have chosen to legislate accordingly, especially targeting cars. Sure, we all want cleaner air, but their remit is too narrow. Global pollution takes many forms.

Car manufacturers have been put in an impossible position. They have been expected to achieve the miracle of the totally pollution-free car in just a couple of decades and have as a consequence been ground down by a tidal flow of regulations from people who may well not fully understand the science and engineering conundrums. The trouble is that the car makers didn’t stubbornly hold their ground and say we can’t do it in this timescale; instead they fiddled the figures.

The buying public get cheated at every turn. We quite rightly don’t like cheats in sport yet we meekly accept cheats in commerce and business – just ask the bankers who are at it like rabbits to this day. Climate change facts and figures are manipulated to suit an argument so Volkswagen solved this problem by cheating and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this doesn’t radiate out into the car industry in general.

This is because, at the end of day, political expediency and ever-greater profits are the only thing that matters. Us? We’re inconsequential – but we’re not daft and I doubt that any of this comes as any sort of surprise.
Geoff Maxted