I’m sure that today’s budget will be chewed over in the blogosphere pretty heavily over the next few days. I shan’t dwell on all the details. Not enough being done too late. We all agree. The government pushing this weird thing of high tech industries in their realisation that since Thatcher we’ve been kept afloat by meaningless financial products etc etc. What I do want to dwell on, though, is the increase on duty on cider.
Of course, over the last few years cider has become a far more popular drinks. The expansion of high end brands retailing at a premium, such as Magners and Bulmers have led to some sort of cider-gentrification, but nonetheless it has remained a relatively cheap way of drinking, and one that has been favoured, as a result, by many poorer people and young people. Reuben, one of our bloggers here on The Third Estate saw all of this coming. He has told us over and over again in the last year that the sort of taxes on cheap booze are effectively a way of the government allowing drinking for the rich but not for the poor, and today he was proved right with a 10% duty increase on cider.
The underlying spirit of this change is actually to do with prohibition, about the government feeling that it is their duty to protect people from themselves (only poor people, mind), but in doing so they undermine a much wider section of the population than alcoholics. Rather, all of those people living on low wages or low benefits, who like a drink every now and again and choose to drink cider are being priced out of the market. Yes, there are people with alcoholism problems in this country, and yes many of them are amongst the poorest members of society (note, there is an issue of cause and effect here! It is not because people are of some underlying morally dubious self-destructive character that people become alcoholics and are also poor, rather poverty is very much a cause of people turning to alcoholism) But the solution can never be prohibition by stealth.
Reuben has been right all along, and it should not be up to the poorest members of our society, taking pleasure in some of the few luxuries they enjoy, to pay back money that has been stolen from them by banks and financial corporations.