herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Increasing the price of cheap plonk is simply a stealth tax on the poor

In a week when Dun Laoghaire suffered yet another body blow with the news that the ferry link to Holyhead is to close after more than 150 years, effectively ending the town's status as a port, there were several other matters which caught the attention.

Militant Islamists were getting plenty of publicity for themselves, with the barbarian savages of IS releasing and actually glorying in the footage of a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive.

No, I didn't watch the clips myself because I believe that to do so would only give some degree of justification to what these animals are trying to achieve, but it's odd to think that some people are up in arms over the forthcoming release of a film about bondage when images of a man being immolated are only a couple of mouse clicks away.

classmate

Down in Limerick we had an Educate Together school apologising for causing offence to a Muslim pupil after an 11 year-old classmate brought in a copy of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo as part of a discussion on freedom of expression.

Surely the whole point of the Educate Together enterprise is to escape from the constraints of religious interference in education but, clearly, not when Islam or cartoons of Muhammad are involved. As I've said before, this is only the beginning of this nonsense.

Meanwhile, closer to home I hope you're all feeling warm, fuzzy and increasingly healthy in the knowledge that Health Minister Leo Varadkar and his cohorts are looking out for your health by intending to bring in minimum pricing for alcohol and insisting that restaurants and takeaways display a calorie count on all menus.

To take the latter situation first, the proposals seem utterly unworkable, given that most good chefs operate by taste and instinct and generally couldn't be arsed worrying whether an extra pinch of seasoning in a pot affects the calorie-count when it's the taste that matters, as it should be.

On Newstalk during the week an apologist for the measures, Professor Donal O'Shea of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group on Obesity, (snazzy title, eh?) pointed out that the system is in place in the US but overlooked the fact that the rules only apply to chain restaurants with more than 15 branches.

This makes sense, as KFC or Burger King products are all exactly the same wherever you go so once a count has been done it'll be the same across the franchise. Not so should you fork out for a jaunt to sample some top nosebag in a fancy restaurant.

If menus are changing due to the availability of produce, then I'd prefer the man or woman in charge in the kitchen to be working out how best to maximise my dining experience rather than farting about with a calculator to comply with a daft regulation dreamed up by some government jobsworth.

machines

Why didn't Mr Varadkar try getting to the nub of the country's obesity problem by starting with a ban on vending machines in schools?

And how the hell are 'inspectors' going to monitor whether or not the figures on a menu are accurate or simply plucked out of the air, surely not by dining out in nice establishments at the taxpayers' expense?

The all-embracing paw of the Nanny State was also in evidence in the plans for a minimum price rule on alcohol sold in off-licenses.

This could see the bottom-line price for a bottle of the cheapest plonk rise to as much as €7.50 and is simply another stealth tax on the poor.

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