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Bag tax recycled into eco-PR slush

Your taxes at work

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These days, the interests of big business and big government are so perfectly "aligned", you can't shine a light through the resulting hairball.

Whether it's public works, defense or IT contractors; or huge advertising agencies, PR firms, and the media who benefit from them - corporate interests and bureaucrats are now as snug as two bugs in a rug.

Did you know, for example, that government ad campaigns account for half of the annual income of UK commercial radio? (New Labour became the UK's biggest advertiser several years ago). Or that the annual IT splurge costs twice as much as what Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us over five years? Such colossal sums of money are rarely discussed - they're hidden in plain sight.

But also hidden is what looks like an exciting new role for the Ministry of Truth: it's an outsourcing strategy. Perhaps readers can help shed any light on this - and tell us we're not just imagining it?

As The Register's Lewis Page reported this week, plastic shopping bags will be taxed if commerce fails to reduce their use to the government's liking. These tax revenues will then be funnelled into the PR business, with favoured "environmental charities" being the recipients. And we're not talking about donkey sanctuaries. One prime candidate, Lewis pointed out, is something called the Greenpeace Environmental Trust.

You don't need to spend too long at the GET website to realise that it's a political PR operation. There's a picture of a mournful polar bear "leaping for it's life" - Awww! (Although in more likelihood, it's probably leaping onto a tasty seal cub, so it can rip its head off for lunch.)

Greenpeace: your taxes at work

Greenpeace: your taxes at work?

GET's activities include "looking at the effects of human activity on the natural environment" (translation: generating scare stories); "conducting research and making the results available to the public" (translation: getting scare stories into the papers). Only the final part of its mission statement - "relieving sickness or suffering of people and animals as a result of changes in their natural environment" - can possibly be construed as non-political.

That's the nature of the beast. Greenpeace long ago gave up saving whales, in favour of pretending to save whales for TV cameras. Have a read of this testimony of Paul Watson. The co-founder of Greenpeace now calls the phoney posturing "obscene, fraudulent and scandalous".

And it's not as if the organization is hard up. Greenpeace's annual turover blossomed thanks to the global warming frenzy to €173m in 2005. By Greenpeace's own figures, this dwarfs the $150m that the beastly Exxon has spent fighting the idea of manmade global warming over a decade. Hardly an even fight, and a cause even less worthy of taxpayers money, you'd have thought.

So why should this particular PR operation benefit? We haven't a clue. Maybe you can help? [mailto].

All this is most odd, because contributions to political groups are usually voluntary. If one wants to donate to the Campaign to Abolish Protein, for example, one does so through one's own volition. To have the government spend it for us doesn't seem quite right.

No wonder everyone wants to be an eco-propagandist. These days, it pays so well to be one. ®

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