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Jul. 18 2010 - 4:39 pm | 252 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

Plane Idiocy: The UK’s New Government Compares Cheap Travel To Drug Addiction

easyJet Boeing 737-300

The British government wants to limit the affordability of air travel.

I recently used this space to bemoan the British government’s War On Travel. Under the guise of environmentalism, the newly installed Tory government has undertaken a scheme to limit the mobility of its citizenry, by imposing punitive taxes on flying, and by limiting arrivals and departures. The new government has a particular ire for budget carriers like Ryanair, whose cheap flights have done much to level the traditionally stratified British class system. Like the Tory elitists they are, Britain’s new rulers, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, want to see to it that the working classes stay in their place. No more saucy weekends in Budapest – it’s back to blighted Brighton with them.

We’ve now reached a new nadir in the Tory reassertion of old-fashioned class superiority. The UK’s new government has taken to likening cheap flights and travel to drug addiction and alcohol abuse, and therefore working class travelers to junkies and boozers. In the UK, taking cheap flights to Spain, Estonia, and Portugal is now known as “binge flying.”

As the New York Times reported earlier this month, “The government decided that enabling more flying was incompatible with Britain’s oft-stated goal of curbing emissions. Britons have become accustomed to easy, frequent flying — jetting off to weekend homes in Spain and bachelor parties in Prague — as England has become a hub for low-cost airlines.” This all in an effort to fight what the government spokespeople, without irony, call “binge flying.” It’s telling that flights on legacy (and hence more expensive) carriers like British Airways are not maligned as “binge” carriers. Rather, it’s the working man’s airlines that get that designation.

It’s a shrewd – if appalling – move on the part of the Tories to liken cheap travel to binge drinking and drugging. After all, it plays into widespread stereotypes in Britain regarding the working class and its alleged predilection for heavy drinking and drug taking. In the UK, young, white, working class people – known colloquially as yobs or chavs – are maligned as dangerous and decadent hedonists. Thus, they are subjected to increasing levels of supervision and surveillance, with booze bans, strict anti-smoking regulations, and other illiberal restrictions now the law of the land. By referring to travel as just another form of substance abuse, it becomes logical for the British government to take steps to limit it. Logical, if distasteful. Distasteful, if not outright disgusting.

I’ve long thought of England as the European equivalent of “Flyover Country,” just a dull expanse to pass over on the way to more interesting destinations, like France, Germany, Denmark, or the Netherlands. Apparently, now, that’s one thing that David Cameron and I agree on.


5 Total Comments
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    Thus, they are subjected to increasing levels of supervision and surveillance, with booze bans, strict anti-smoking regulations, and other illiberal restrictions now the law of the land.

    But you support the smoking bans, remember?

    Oh, wait, I remember. You only support them when it’s pot that people smoke. When it’s pot, it’s illiberal not to restrict usage, cultivation, and access. Otherwise we’re infringing the rights of working-class people – of whom Ethan must know tens! – to infringe their neighbor’s right to smoke pot. Or something. It’s not too clear, but of course, Ethan has “proven” it. I know because he said so and linked to his own post.

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    “After all, it plays into widespread stereotypes in Britain regarding the working class and its alleged predilection for heavy drinking and drug taking.”

    “Alleged?” Really? Come on dude do you honestly, really, and truly think that the working classes in Britain don’t drink too much? Have you ever had to interact with the British working classes, or seen the Sunday morning carnage strewn about England’s green and pleasant land?

    Now I don’t think that having lived in the UK makes me an unimpeachable expert on all things British (I lived in Oxford which is vastly wealthier and more cosmopolitan than most places), but you would have to willfully ignorant on a Walter Duranty-like level to spend any time there and NOT notice the totally out of control drinking culture particular among the working/lower classes.

    Does this mean that the Tories are right to raise taxes and fees? I have no idea, but if you’re basing your opinion partly on the assumption that the scourge of binge drinking has been invented by dastardly Tory toffs simply so that they can thumb their noses at the great unwashed masses.. then you are basing your opinion on the opposite of reality.

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    now if only the pot growers and sellers would give donations/bribes to the main parties i am sure things could be workedout after all they have been taking big tobaccos money for years now..2 pints of lager and a packet of crisps please

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    Might as well compare any other kind of consumption that exceeds basic needs to vice.

    Anybody with more than 500 sq. ft. per person in the house: Binge Homebuilder.

    Anybody with more than two nice outfits and three casual: Binge Clotheshorse.

    Two (or more) car families: Binge Drivers.

    One insult fits all, the last three fitting those ‘upper classes’ very well.

    The problem that modern aircraft have been pegged as a major global-warming problem (not just the CO2 emissions, it’s the heat-reflecting contrails in the high atmosphere) is not going away, of course.

    Long run, they may be charged such high carbon and other GW taxes or fees that there will be no more cheap flights.

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    About Me

    I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. My work has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, the New York Press, The Big Money, sp!Ked online, the Epoch Times, the Daily NK, and others. From 2005 to 2007, I wrote a column on culture and politics for the (alas, now defunct) Seattle-based Internationalist Magazine. In so doing, I filed dispatches from Berlin, Seoul, Paris, New York, and, yes, Reno - among other places. In 2009, I reported on business from Shanghai. I attended Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

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