The NCT and the evils of too much government
I’m not usually a fanatic about the growth of government and its increasing role in our lives. I like low college fees (by the standards of other countries), I like public transport for all its flaws and I even have a soft spot for TV Licence inspectors (if only because of the advertisements). But one particular government intervention in our lives has the capacity to turn me into a full frontal anarchist. One particular bureaucratic irritation drives so far up the wall I feel the overwhelming urge to break out my balaclava and molotov cocktail kit and smash the system. Its not the ever increasing bus fares, its not aggravating array of household charges, taxes and fees and its not even the wretched property tax. No, the government imposition which truly makes me angrier than a bear with a toothache is the National Car Test, the NCT.
Where I a more paranoid man I would see the NCT as an unholy plot by the government and car dealerships and auto-repair shops to squeeze the poor defenceless punter for all he is worth. A sort of big oil conspiracy only with medium to large auto sales and repair instead. However, leaving aside my fears of a money making ploy instigated by an alliance of car dealerships in conjunction with the Road Safety Authority, there are plenty of other reasons to loathe the NCT. The first is the unspeakable nanny state feel of it all. Suddenly, us poor foolish commuters and recreational drivers are simply too irresponsible to look after our own cars, and need the government to legally bind us to get them checked, and then charge us for the privilege. Its a sort of Orwellian take on a grown up version of the “Look, Listen, Live” road safety campaign, only with ridiculous charges and spurious criteria for what qualifies as ‘safe’.
A second reason to abhor the NCT in all its bureaucratic horror is this very issue of a car ‘failing’. For a test which purports to try and lower road accidents by reducing the number of mechanically suspect cars still driving on them, to fail a vehicle for having a rear reflector light missing or less than fully inflated tyres is galling in its triviality. Surely, a simple recommendation to repair such minor flaws will suffice rather than forcing the owner to sit through another test complete with extortionate fee? As a money making scam, it is offensive in its grasping attempts to wring every cent from the poor driver. It is also insulting for the government to make us get our cars tested for mechanical faults, which common sense tells us the owner(s) will be looking for all on their own. No sensible or even insensible person is going to drive for very long if they suspect that their brake cables or drive shaft are faulty, let alone if they have an engine problem. Either the government believes we are so irrational that we need our hand held while going through a traditional adult activity, the maintenance of one’s own car, or else it is so cash strapped it is willing to engage in this kind of backdoor taxation.
This is the final grasping cherry on top of this unwholesome revenue scrounging desert, that it is something we must pay for. If ensuring the mechanical integrity of vehicles is so important to our safety, surely this a service the government should be providing free of charge. What do our motor taxes pay for if not the upkeep and safety of our national roads and the cars that drive on them? If the government wishes to involve itself in the maintenance of our nations cars, surely we should not have to pay for this involvement having already paid our taxes? In the same way that after paying our taxes we are not expected to pay tolls on public roads (leaving the issue of Public Private Partnerships to one side) why should we pay for a service which should already be paid for through our motor taxes? Especially as this is a function the government has only recently intruded itself into and one in which it traditionally has no place.
The NCT is an example of the worst kind of ‘big government’. It is a government intrusion into an area where it has no place, as we have private auto-repair providers to help us maintain our cars. The government is just acting as an unnecessary middleman, telling us what we already know in most cases and then fleecing us for it. And even if such mandatory testing saves lives, since when is it expected that the already heavily taxed punter should pay for potentially life saving services outside of regular taxation? Being forced to pay for visits to to the emergency room is bad enough, being forced to pay for completely spurious government mandated safety tests is just downright insulting.
P.S. Hermes at Rest is a new blog myself and my brothers have set up, we've been having some technical difficulties but hopefully this is the start of bug free content!