No Exit

I found myself using my Internet banking facility to pay my 'Tax on Account'. first thing this morning. Perhaps I was spurred by the threat of a £60 a day fine if my tax return doesn't arrive in time, even though my own was sent off month's ago.

Sitting down in front of my PC, I've been running an end of 2003 finances comparison with 2002. Believe me, you can see the tax creeping-up noticeably between the years, mostly due to the hike in National Insurance contributions. Then of course, there's the 'indirect taxation', speed cameras, Poll Tax and parking wardens but these aren't supposed to count but each one made its own dent in my bank account.

It struck me just now, that each one of us is really a prisoner of the state in the 21st century. What I mean is that I can no longer disappear off on some trip across a distant desert and then come back and settle with Government sensibly. No. If my car tax runs out and my car is off the road behind a six foot fence surrounding my property, I'll still be fined. No appeal possible. The same applies with tax on account, VAT reporting, PAYE and everything else that suffocates us in Britain today.

I can't simply put up a sign with 'Gone Fishing' written on it and expect my life to be left undisturbed under a dust cover. The TV license people might get me first and I doubt I would be able to open the front door against the weight of fines and threats that would be a consequence of another trek across the Sahara or an extended stay in a Sinai Monastery.

Why does is it have to be this way as the state attempts to control and tax every corner and moment of one's existence. What happened to the concept of personal freedom or did we simply lose it as the machines took over?

This weekend's security alert involving a British Airways flight to Washington illustrates what I see as the end of personal freedom and privacy, defeated by the threat of terrorism which has encouraged the expansion of the 'Big Brother' style of Government. In future, like the bad old days of the Soviet Union, the state will wish to know who you are, where you are and if you have paid your taxes on time - their time - . If not then your'e in trouble, a potential terrorist or simply anti-social. take your pick.


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