As the dust begins to settle after Pascal Donohue announced the 2018 national budget yesterday we have to ask ourselves several questions. How will the budget affect us? How will I benefit from the budget? And why did a budget announcement have to be so dang dusty?
While much of the attention surrounding the budget has focused on commitments to social housing, increases toward social welfare and the slight restructuring around income tax and USC, we here at College Times do not settle for quibbling over such low-hanging fruit. No, instead we put on some basic snorkelling gear, rub ourselves liberally in goose fat - like that time when David Walliams swam the English channel - and plunge, headfirst, into the deepest, darkest, murkiest depths, in search of the real story. And I'll be damned if we haven't uncovered something of what the angry Texan beetroot known as Alex Jones might call a 'god damn government conspiracy'.
It's a conspiracy that runs deep, that seems to target the very fabric of Irish our society, our very national identity. A concerted effort in the budget to impede one of our purest national past-times and that is going out and getting absolutely lairy. Yes, it seems that the budget is little more than a thinly veiled affront to the humble night out.
"But," I hear you cry, "Are they not raising the minimum wage by some 30c to €9.55 an hour? Haven't they refused to introduce any further levies on alcohol with this budget? Surely these things are a glorious prize to those of us who enjoy jiving on the dancefloors of this great land. We have more disposable income while prices of drinks will stay the same, how could it better?" To which I say, firstly, 'jiving'? You are either some time-travelling party-goer from 1950's America or are launching some flaccid attempt at a kitsch revival of a retro word, both of which warrant you being shunned and pelted with gravel. But do not be lured by these gilded trinkets designed to simply distract you from the truth of the matter.
Let me break down just how this budget is disastrous, both for nights out and for hangovers:
Listen, we all love to look our best on a night out, and what with current beauty trends being what they are, society has deemed that our own pallid Irish skin simply won't do. As such, we need to get our tan on however we can. Whether it be holidaying somewhere with a climate that isn't the personification of grey sorrow, applying some fake tan or smearing yourself with a melted Curly Wurly, we need our need to somehow achieve that bronzed look. Unfortunately for sunbed users however Pascal Donohue wants you to remain all ghostly as he announced that VAT for sunbed use is set to rise from 13.5% to 23%, for those of you whose brains are so fried from artificial UV lighting you can no longer do basic arithmetic, that's a whopping 9.5% increase yo! That's one stage of our night out prep ruined.
Sure as day follows night and night follows day, each year's budget sees an increase in cigarette prices and sure enough, the big dog Donohue announced that 20 packs of smokes would increase by 50c. This means that the cost of a pack of straights is set to be around €12. This is yet another move on the war on social smoking, with fewer and fewer fair-weather smokers being willing to fork out for these steep prices, the smoking areas of most clubs have been doomed to become little more than haunted graveyards where hordes of half-cut social smokers will be roaming, eyes glazed, trying to bum fags "for a quid" from anyone with the decency to buy their own.
3) Sugary Drinks:
One of the most publicised announcements from yesterdays budget was the proposed introduction of a sugary drink tax. A tax of 30c will apply to any soft drink sold which contains more than 8 grams of sugar per litre, and one of 20c for drinks containing between 5-8 grams of sugar per litre. These taxes will be proportional to the volume sold, so a can of coke will roughly be 10c more expensive. All this means, that any cocktails or splashes of coke you're after in a club will be chipping away at your hard-earned wad of cash. There is also devastating news for gin & tonic lovers as tonic water comes under the higher sugar tax band and will thus result in your G&Ts being even more pricey.
It was announced that there would be a recruitment drive to try add an extra 800 gardaí to the service, pushing the overall number of gardaí to around 14,000. This means that we'll be absolutely swimming in the fellas, with minimal chance of hijinx at the end of the night in your city of choice. Your options for some wanton merriment, such as stealing traffic cones, j-walking or committing petty arson.
5) Commercial Stamp Duty:
Commercial Stamp Duty is set to rise from 2% to 6%. I can't tell you the amount of times, on a night out when I've had a few drinks taken, and have accidentally splashed the cash on some land for commercial use. I say you truly haven't had a proper night out until you wake up the next morning, check your phone and see an extensive email exchange between you and a property developer finalising a deal for a tract of farmland in Laois. This will now set ya back even more.
What's more, the sugary drink tax is also gonna punch a large sugary hole in your pocket the next morning when you buy your customary hungover can of coke. It's an all round disgraceful affront on the honest night out.
Although if you're being especially pedantic about it I suppose that one could argue they're trying to dissuade people from consuming widely known carcinogens while trying to ensure our public safety. Only a pedant would make the point though and hammer it home, a true pedant.