To listen to Government ministers at the moment, one could be forgiven for thinking we were in the middle of an economic boom.
Amid an entirely predictable collapse in haulier numbers and knock-on shortages, the response so far has been on the one hand an underwhelming visa scheme and on the other a demand for trucking businesses simply to pay their staff more.
Now, as a newspaper which firmly believes in the miracle that is supply and demand, there is little to object to – in the abstract at least. But what galls is not just that most hauliers are already expanding pay packets, but that it comes at exactly the same time as taxes are going up across the board.
If Labour are desperate at their conference this week to tell the world they no longer believe in a magic money tree, then the Conservatives perhaps need reminding that most businesses don’t possess one, either. Corporate tax is going up. National Insurance is going up. Business rates remain a mess. The economy remains at best fragile, with supply and labour shortages combining with sky high energy prices to leave the road to recovery looking rather bumpy indeed. Inflation isn’t going away, either.
But despite all of this, as CBI boss Lord Bilimoria notes today in our opinion pages, the UK tax burden is set to rise to its highest level in seventy years. That may be a recipe for tax-and-spend electoral positioning and pork-barrel spending, but it is certainly not a recipe for the sort of sustainable, long-term growth that the country so desperately needs in the years to come.
Contrary to what politicians seem to think, the vast majority of businesses pay what they can afford. But the more money they are obliged to hand over to HMRC, the less there is to give employees. Those employees in turn will be stung by their own tax hikes, and by out of control inflation.
Businesses on the end of a Westminster tongue-lashing are entitled to feel hard done by.