We heard today that the inflation experienced by the poorest people is greater than that experienced by the richest. This is for the simple reason that inflation in food and fuel is much greater than inflation generally, and even more because the costs experienced by richer people are often represented in large part by mortgage payments on property, and the current minuscule interest rate is in fact making those payments lower than ever before. So feeding ourselves is getting more expensive, but feeding ourselves is also a much greater proportion of poorer people’s expenditure than it is of richer people’s.
It’s true as well that feeding ourselves is increasingly becoming not a means of nutrition, but a means of self-abuse. Channel 4′s modern day freak-show, Embarrassing Fat Bodies, illustrated this again last night in its trade-mark gory and repulsive detail. Much of this “eating as self-harm” has its roots in the kind of food people eat, and it’s equally generally true that the diets of poorer people are worse in this respect than those of richer people. One of the commonest explanations of this relationship is that bad food is also cheap food. Poor people cannot afford to eat well or healthily.
You will sometimes hear campaigners claim that the poor are the main beneficiaries of sin taxes because, having less money, they will be the first to cut down or give up and, therefore, get healthier/cut their carbon footprint/have more disposable income.
This is one of the great myths in public health that has endured despite decades—indeed centuries—of evidence showing the opposite. Tobacco is the starkest example because there has been a clear transition from smoking being equally popular across the social spectrum to it being—after 60 years of punitive taxation—much more prevalent amongst the poor. We know all this beyond a doubt. To continue pushing up taxes on undesirable products in the full knowledge that the poor are least likely to change their ways seems a little exploitative.
...one of the main reasons gas, electricity and food are so expensive is that the price has been artificially inflated to serve an alleged environmental agenda. Oil and wheat prices exacerbate the problem, but the price of diesel from the pumps pushes up the price of practically everything. In the UK, the majority of that price is tax which has been escalating since the 1980s, ostensibly to deter people from driving.
Likewise, there is a conscious effort to 'wean people' off fossil fuels, and the rising price of gas and electricity reflects the policy of successive governments who are forcing energy companies to use less efficient, pricier forms of power (obviously this is not helped by the fact that these companies are also greedy bastards operating in a sham of a market).