Black marketeers rejoice at UK government plan

The UK government is seriously thinking of introducing individual carbon rationing:

Every citizen would be issued with a carbon “credit card” – to be swiped every time they bought petrol, paid an energy utility bill or booked an airline ticket – under a nationwide carbon rationing scheme that could come into operation within five years, according to a feasibility study commissioned by the environment secretary, David Miliband, and published today. In an interview with the Guardian Mr Miliband said the idea of individual carbon allowances had “a simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift”.

It’s hard to think of a crazier plan. The UK has a very small black market in comparison to most countries, but this would almost certainly make it a major part of the economy (“Psst, luv, fancy a gallon of petrol? I’ve got a couple of under-the-table flights to Majorca as well.”) If the rations are tradable, it will amount to a gigantic redistribution of wealth as students and others with no need or desire to use too much carbon sell their rights to families and others with needs to travel, light their homes and so on. Pensioners will surely switch off their heating to save carbon allowances and fall prey to hypothermia. Meanwhile, the authorities will have to police the rationing system, diverting scarce police resources from other crimes. Any politician who is attracted to such a scheme needs his head examined.

Of all the politicians whose faces would appear on a Big Brother Is Watching You poster, I never suspected it would be the, erm, intellectual Mr Miliband.