The BBC ‘TV license’ Tax

Having a tough time paying the bills? Council tax, car tax, road tax, value-added tax, tax on earnings, tax on savings, tax on your business, tax on exports, tax on imports, national insurance tax, tax to pay for the EU, tax to pay for foreign aid, tax for people who can’t work, tax to dig up roads and then fill them back in (oh sorry I said council tax didn’t I?), green tax, carbon tax, tax for other peoples’ healthcare, tax to sit in a waiting room long after your stated appointment surrounded by people who’ve never worked a day in their life to see a doctor who has to rush you in and out as quickly as possible (oh sorry I said national insurance didn’t I?), tax on top of tax. Is it too much? Probably not. Which is why the government has chosen this time to remind you, by way of threats, that it’s a criminal offence to own a viewing screen without a license.

Yup, owning a display screen requires you to have a license. I suppose that’s fair. After all, there are many things you need a license for: driving a car, selling alcohol in a public place, having gambling machines on your premises, manufacturing and distribution of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, practicing medicine. It only makes sense that, to protect the Rights of Televisions, you are required to prove that you’re worthy to take care of one. And by ‘prove’, I mean: pay the State a yearly fee which is given to its nominated broadcaster.

A broadcaster with an anti-industrial anti-capitalist pro-Green pro-EU multicultural politically-correct Left-wing agenda. A corporation whose corruption has been exposed time and again. A corporation whose interests and services aren’t dictated by a free market of voluntary customers, but through expropriated funds to push whatever agenda its leaders desire. A corporation that is neither brimming with quality self-produced British programming, nor particularly likeable, interesting or varied approaches to presentation, broadcasting nor punditry. (The latter is a personal opinion, but compare how the BBC does sport to Sky.)

So here is the latest video campaign to shame non-payers and remind everyone that failing to have a TV license is a criminal offence:

http://news.sky.com/story/1105038/tv-licence-dodgers-excuses-in-video-campaign

Of course, that depends how you define “criminal”. In my naivety, I’d have thought that a criminal offence is one that makes you a criminal, which means there is a victim to your crime. If there’s no victim, then whose Rights have I violated? And if no one’s Rights have been violated, doesn’t that mean a “crime” is pretty much whatever the State, without representation, says it is?

I’ve written about this before (and before) of course, and of the “excuses” that many innocent citizens give for not paying their license fee, the not-so-ridiculous ones that failed to make the video are: “I didn’t pay my license fee because I want to know…

  • Why should I pay for a service I don’t use?
  • If the license fee is not a tax for supporting the BBC, why does the money from the fee only go to the BBC?
  • How many households’ worth of license fees did it take on this video campaign to warn people not to avoid paying their license fee?
  • Why does an electronic device capable of viewing live television, which we already had to pay at least 20% tax on, require a license to own?
  • If the license was originally for owning a television set, when was it changed to include any other type of display device? Why?
  • If I don’t own a TV but a computer monitor, why does that require a license? If I don’t have a monitor but have a mobile phone, why does that require a license?
  • If I haven’t violated anyone’s Rights, why would I be considered a criminal for not paying the most laughable and audacious tax in history?
  • Why does the BBC not fund itself the way every other corporation has to: by winning and keeping customers?
  • Why is ‘so you don’t have to sit through adverts on two of their stations’ a legitimate justification for tax?
  • Does it not encourage stagnation and poor service when a business is not answerable to its clients? Why should I help the BBC to maintain the status quo?
  • If the BBC is so confident in its quality programming, why not let its loyal viewers support it voluntarily?
  • Would the government or BBC agree to give the license fee funds to another broadcaster, like ITV, Channel 4 or Sky? If not, why?
  • Why does the BBC’s collection agency pretend to have TV-signal-tracking equipment to catch you when it doesn’t?
  • Why does the collection agency pretend to have the power to knock at your door and extract the fee by force, when it doesn’t?
  • Why is a third-party collection agency used at all for enforcing criminal law in this country? Isn’t that the job of the police, when an actual crime has been committed? If you set the local park on fire or run over someone in your car, who turns up at your door: a private collection company or the police?
  • If a private company demands money from me for breach of contract, can you show me the contract I signed?
  • If a license inspector turns up at your door, do they have any authority to search your premises? If not, isn’t it true we can just say ‘no’ and turn them away?
  • Why does the BBC deserve to be the State-sponsored broadcaster of choice (not ours), paid for by the already over-taxed British public? Why does it merit this privilege? How does this not constitute a coercive monopoly, the very kind that the Left Wing BBC would claim only happens under capitalism?
  • Would it be fair to say that the license fee paid the wages of those many child molesters that went about their perverted business for decades in the BBC? And the wages of those who covered it up for so long?”

***

And those are just off the top of my head. Did I miss one? What would your “excuse” be?

I object on principle to tax, of course – but in our current society I understand it is necessary (for now), and wouldn’t propose to overturn it overnight. (I am not unrealistic. Long before our political system becomes freer, our culture needs to change.) There are many governmental services we should pay for. Owning a television isn’t one of them.

In other countries, such as Finland, the license fee varies based on income, with the very poor exempt. Although that’s not how it works in Britain, you have to ask: if it is a license fee we are talking about, why should it be connected to your income? No other legitimate (or even common sense) license is “progressive” in that sense. Why? Because there is no practical reality-based reason for the State demanding money for you owning a license. (If there was, they would give one.) The license fee is not a license fee; it’s just a hypothecated tax.

If there were a reason for this TV tax it would simply be: to fund State broadcasting. Now, as much as I would still object to that, I could stomach this far better. Historically, the reason that countries introduced this tax was for such a purpose, which made sense (in context) at the time. But the TV tax does not go towards State broadcasting, which might have a place in times of emergency or national crisis (but really, with technology being what it is and the amount of money the government has as its disposal, even that is a flimsy excuse); it goes towards the BBC! The BBC taxes us to keep itself in business. So it can keep pushing its incredibly one-sided Left Wing agenda on a public that by and large still seems to think of the BBC as an honest even-minded British institution, instead of the arrogant corrupt socialist monster of a corporation that it is.

The arguments in favour of the license fee are usually collectivist nonsense like this. Notice how the author justifies everything on the grounds of the Greater Good of Society. This is the sort of rhetoric that is claimed, shouted, assumed, without argument – just put out there and hoped it will be swallowed, because it usually is. He blames the “scourge of individualism”, and claims it is growing. Oh, if only! But he’s damn right it’s individualism, and long may it live! Anyone who needs to attack individual freedom because he doesn’t like the choices you might make, doesn’t have an argument; he has collectivist propaganda. He says: “just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.” Which of course raises the question: ‘so WHO does see the value in it?’ But of course, what the author really means is: ‘it should not be scrapped, because I (the author) see the value in it.’ To which I say: if YOU see the value in it, YOU pay for it. That is after all the only meaningful definition of value. Oh, what’s that? If you gave people the choice they might not make the right one (the one the author has decreed in his capacity as spokesman for the Public Good, to be the only acceptable one)? Hmm, can’t be much of a value if people don’t want to fork out £145 a year for it. Most people spend more than that on a weekly shop, mobile phones, games, sports, hobbies, transport etc. Funny how when people are left alone they don’t have much of a problem finding the money for the values they really want…

Which again just proves: there are two ways to make people agree with you: reason or force. You can’t have both.

Of course, there are countless ways for the BBC to be funded without a gun, but the author’s primary motive? He doesn’t want to sit through adverts. Oh, well, you’ll forgive me for not rushing to open my wallet because you don’t like adverts. What’s that word when you use the State to force other people to go along with your unreasoned convictions?

My personal opinion is that lawful rebellion has its time and its place. There are of course far more important things to protest about (like our involvement/support/invasion of other countries). There are more immediate concerns over which we should refuse to cooperate with the government (like wind farms, carbon taxes, the welfare state, bailing out failed businesses). But something as small as the BBC Tax is a good place to start. It raises public awareness of just how stupid this tax is, it makes us question this immoral behemoth, it forces tough answers to simple questions, and it makes those in power realise that they cannot pull taxes out of thin air and expect us to pay up every time. We are far too accommodating and obedient to our bureaucratic overlords in this country. Once we refuse to pay this despicable BBC tax (they can’t and won’t send everyone to court, even if they do catch you with their magical detectors), we can move onto the other unwanted schemes our expropriated cash is spent on by an unelected undemocratic elite.

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