The Bitchy Boys' Panorama is usually dire, but I made the effort to watch this evening's exposé of the illegal tobacco trade because I remember another, maybe ten years ago, on which some Customs and Excise plod solemnly pronounced that cigarette smuggling "was costing the taxpayer £X million a year".
"No, you stupid shit", I sighed at the unresponsive screen. "It's saving taxpayers that amount, isn't it?"
This time around they were a tad less stupid, but only just. Some plump bottle-blonde was doing the hidden camera bit on a bunch of low-lives flogging untaxed (gasp!) "tobacco products", which are not even the real thing but toxic crap produced by underground factories in the People's Republic of China.
And why is there a £4 billion a year market for this poison? Because, said Blondie proudly, Britain has the second highest level of taxation on tobacco in the world. Well, no; she didn't actually make the connection. Does the word "Prohibition" ring no historical bells for these arseholes?
Of course it would be too much for a tax-extorting outfit like the Bitchy Boys Club to factor in the Laffer curve, the demonstrable reduction in revenue once tax exceeds the point where tax-payers regard it as legitimate. The rich will exploit loopholes or move elsewhere, the poor smuggle and deal on the black.
Then she said that the worst thing about the Chinese tobacco is that it will cost the NHS a lot of money. That is certainly false. Anyone who takes themselves out relatively young saves the NHS the really big costs associated with the degenerative ailments of old age; not to mention the old age pensions they won't be collecting.
In any conflict between tax evaders and the state, I'm on the side of the evaders.