By John Fraser
There is normally a lot to annoy me in the budget. Taxes are not nice, whether they are income taxes on earnings, VAT on spending, or the whole range of fuel levies.
I resent, but understand, the taxing of tobacco products and booze.
What really gets to me is the very unfunny jollity with which such levies are so commonly referred to as ‘sin taxes’.
Tax me if you must, but how dare you judge my lifestyle?
I accept that the far-from-funny linking of these taxes to the punishment of sin seemed jolly funny to the sad and pathetic accountants in whose depressing lives such hilarity appeared to be side-splitting.
But while reckless drinking and smoking may sometimes be unwise, there is little direct reference to these habits in the 10 Commandments.
You may burn in hell for all eternity for coveting your neighbour’s wife, being unholy on the Sabbath, committing adultery or for stealing.
But having a fag? Smoking a cigar, having a beer, a glass of wine or a G&T?
Pull the other one, you sad, sad sods.
Christ himself approved so much of wine that he manufactured the stuff out of tap water, and wine forms the centrepiece of one of the Christian religion’s most profound and spiritual ceremonies.
OK. There are religions which do curse the drinker. But do we really want our fiscal nomenclature to be based on one interpretation of the teaching of a bearded prophet (aren’t they all?) whose depiction in a cartoon is enough to get the artist a death-threat?
These are not taxes on sin. They are taxes on pleasure. Our pockets are being picked – our mortal souls are not being levied as we prepare for the fires of Hell.
We are being forced to effectively pay more for – largely harmless – pleasures. More sinned against than sinners.
To hear the way that this accounting phrase is creeping into all budget reporting, political comment and common parlance is a saddening and infuriating example of the way in which idiots have perverted our beloved English language.
When it comes to writing about budgets, my focus will be on syntax and there will not be a ‘sin tax’ reference in sight.
There is nothing holy, worthy or saintly about taxing booze and fags and do not let this distorted language suggest anything different.
If you enjoyed this article, tell all your friends and do subscribe to ZA Confidential.