Free to Move
The Today Programme’s big interview this morning was Ed Miliband. So now we know what Labour would do about the deficit. Or do we? All I gleaned was that Ed would spread cuts over four years, "and go out and ask the people what they think". Brilliant! Evan Davis hopped about like a goblin (do Today presenters get bonuses for interruptions?), accusing Ed of a willingness to fall behind on deficit targets by £40bn a year, and claiming that therefore there is no alternative to painful spending cuts. A dozen times over the last two years, I have emailed Today editors telling them that in traffic system reform there is scope for beneficial cuts of tens of billions a year. I’ve written about it in Economic Affairs, and here (politically I’m unaffiliated by the way). In researching an updated piece for a Sunday paper, I’ve had annual savings of £40bn certified by an accountant as a realistic figure for kind cuts from traffic system reform, assuming you agree that equality is a better basis for road-user interaction than priority (with its expensive network of defensive-aggressive and ultimately futile controls). The figures are broad brush, because the cost of traffic management and control, as a DfT spokesman told me, "is as long as a piece of string", and, as a senior traffic economist and engineer warned, the field is virtually impossible to unravel. But the point is that the mainstay of independent, investigative journalism, the BBC, is swallowing ill-informed government PR and neglecting outside voices bringing insights of major import.
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