independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Darragh McManus: Honestly I tried, but I simply don't care for all this hullabaloo

IT'S BUDGET time again – oh happy day. Because it's all so wonderful and fascinating, isn't it, with the statistics and analysis and parliamentary catcalling and terms like "fiscal rebalancing" and "stimulus regeneration" that don't make a lick of sense to any normal person.

I'm being sarcastic, as you'll have guessed (sarcasm is one of the few things left untaxed this year). I find it almost impossible to care about the Budget.

I'm vaguely aware of this thing taking place once a year, around now, which has something to do with the Minister for Finance. But beyond that, I know nothing, really, and care less.

The whole Budget thing is so dull and meaningless and exhausting. It's white noise to my ears.

Part of the problem may be that the figures involved are ridiculously huge. Billions, tens of billions: these mean absolutely nothing. Once any sum moves beyond about a million, the average brain loses its ability to process it. Or at least mine does.

I start trying to picture it as marbles, each representing a thousand, and how far into space they'd stretch if laid end-to-end.

It doesn't help, either, that officialdom presents this stuff in the dreariest manner possible. Perhaps some Vegas-style glitz might help, with the Budget announced in the form of a catchy show-tune by Barbara Streisand.

Look, I know this is something I should engage with. I know I should care. I just couldn't be bothered.

Worst of all, I feel like I'm the last person left on the island who doesn't care. Every year, after every Budget, every ape you meet has become a self-appointed expert on economics and finance.

They can't leave it alone with a few doleful comments about the fags going up, or how they're getting hammered by property tax. They have to spend half an hour blithering on about income bands and what the minister should have done.

Why do people feel qualified to pontificate about these things? What in the name of God do any of us, apart from David McWilliams maybe, know about such arcane matters? You might as well invite some randomer into an operating theatre and ask his opinion on what the brain surgeon should do next.

Must we have this big ta-ta-raah every year? Can we not just let the Government go about its business, without all the silly, anachronistic melodrama? Lots of countries don't have a Budget Day, and somehow survive.

Would we really miss it if it was abolished?

Would you miss those TV interviews with hardened drinkers bemoaning the cut in social welfare and how tough it makes life "for the pewer childerren", while nobody thinks to ask where the hell he got the money to go drinking all day?

Would you miss the thousand identical comments on the colour of the minister's tie?

Or the TV graphics of blob-shaped people, representing "Sally and Jim, an average married couple, no kids, two cars etc etc"?

Or the prissy anti-smoking mouthpiece saying something absurd like: "We're disappointed he didn't put €500 on the pack of 20 cigarettes," as they do every year?

Actually, you might. But I wouldn't.

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