Letter: The Adam Smug Institute should apply itself to smog

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The Independent Online
I MUST TAKE the Adam Smug Institute to task for suggesting that privatising pavements is the last and greatest opportunity in the unfinished revolution of the free market ('What can they privatise next?', 20 December, your scoop of the week in the form of a controversial letter to the esteemed Secretary of State for Transport, John MacGregor).

I think the institute is forgetting the matter of 'air'. Even this marvellous body is guilty of imagining 'air' is something that is simply there. Air is a by-product of a modern industrial society. The present quality of air differs according to location and a whole range of other factors, including car exhaust emissions, a rapidly expanding road network, industrial wastage and spillage, smoking, and so on.

Considerable employment could be generated, with offices situated in areas of highest unemployment, with the establishment of companies concerned with 'air' quality and control. Naturally they would be governed, as with pavements, and much else, by a regulatory authority.

People will pay for good wholesome 'air'. Indeed there is a basic inequality at present, for why should rural communities benefit so much? A pay system would see justifiable charges above the norm for country people who have so benefited at the expense of city and industrial folk (who create most of the wealth and consumer goods).

I think the Adam Smug Institute will agree that Private Ownership of air is infinitely preferable to the present lack of controls exhibited by a seeming free-for-all public ownership.

Tony Jasper

London NW6

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