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Aug 20, 2008, 06:35 AM
Authors : Daniel
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Post date : Aug 20, 2008, 06:35 AM
Today's Daily Express features, on page 2, a story so thoroughly daft that the paper hasn't (yet) bothered to put it on its website.
The headline is 'Quangos set to levy bin tax and cut collections' (emphasis is the tabloid's).
The opening paragraph: ‘Unelected quangos will have the power to impose bin taxes and cut weekly collections for millions of homes, it was claimed yesterday'.
Ignore the fact that quangos aren't 'elected'. We don't 'vote for' Offwat or the Postal Services Commission, do we?
(It's odd that the Express feels the need to address its readers as if they're simpletons, and yet doesn't explain what a quango is.)
Ignore the fact that the paper's spittle-flecked reporting of bin collection 'problems' is massively out of proportion to the reality of what is, in the grand scheme of things, a minor issue.
Let's concentrate on the use of the word 'tax'.
The truth is that there will never be a 'bin tax'. It will be a charge - and a modest one at that (if it is ever introduced) - which will be levied on the increasingly small number of households that produce an excess of household waste.
(Yes, effective garbage collection should probably be included in the cost of one's council tax, but that's an argument for a different time and place.)
However, 'tax' is - at least in the minds of the Express editorial team - a scary word, much more chilling than 'fee' or 'charge'. (Fees and charges can be more easily avoided than taxes.)
It also inspires hatred for 'them'. You know, people who, basically, not only don't agree with the Express's view of the world, but also create/increase 'taxes'.
It's what the tabloid - and that other ultra-conservative middle-market rag, the Daily Mail - likes to do: mangle facts to alarm and infuriate its readers, regardless of trivialities like truth and accuracy.
Sure, almost no one likes paying taxes, and they're a complex and sometimes bewildering subject (which is why organs such as Taxation are so very necessary).
That's why they should be reported on in a responsible way, and not treated like a joke shop spider bought to make one's tiny sister cry.

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