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The sweetest things in life are …

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The sweetest things in life are …

02:18 AM August 27, 2015

To be taxed.

There’s a bill filed in Congress that’s proposing to add an excise tax on soft drinks with sugar in them. Apparently it’s true; too much sugar is not good for you. But a tax on just one specific user of sugar is hardly reasonable. What about all the cakes? What about the candies? Chocolates? What about almost everything in this sugar-obsessed country?

It’s claimed soft drinks cause obesity and diabetes because of the sugar. So does fast food. A lot of other products have sugar in them so singling out but one is unacceptably discriminatory. If you want to be absurd about it, tax white rice (brown is OK). I know you rice-lovers won’t like this but rice creates those fat tummies and has little nutritional value.

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The Department of Health wants the bill for its supposed health impact and as an easy public health measure. But studies in the United States and Mexico showed that steeper taxes didn’t reduce obesity, and the harmful effects have not been scientifically proven. Meanwhile, the Department of Finance wants the bill to earn more money but a study by the University of Asia and the Pacific shows it will result, instead, in less money as sales fall. The university study said that an increase in soda taxes would result in an estimated net revenue loss of P77.4 billion to the government and an estimated profit loss of P162.6 billion to the beverage companies with consequent loss of many jobs as business falls. Sari-sari stalls, which earn little already, would earn even less. That’s a huge loss a government struggling to earn enough to grow the economy can ill afford. So it’s doubtful it’ll help anybody.

And what about my pet hate, fast food? Remember the movie “Super Size Me”? Why aren’t fast foods fast taxed? Is there absolutely no medical justification? I believe fast foods to be one of the greatest evils imposed on mankind’s diet in this generation, but it doesn’t mean it should be taxed. Or maybe it does, certainly better to tax fast food than sugar.

And that’s my point. Once you start singling out products to super-tax or apply restrictions to, then where does it stop? Government interferes too much in our lives already. I’m for educating and telling people of the harm of something, but it’s their choice to choose to do it or not. It’s not government’s role to impose their judgment.

The beginning debate on marijuana, for example, to legalize it for medical treatment makes great sense. To restrict it, as the Church wants, to only the terminally ill doesn’t. Why not to others where it would relieve the stress and pain? I’d go the way America and many others are going, legalize it. And educate the public on what it does to you, which is no more harmful than what alcohol does. Let people choose how they live their lives, it’s their right.

Laws should protect society from people, not people from themselves. Leave that to God and your conscience. And your own innate common sense.

The problem with products with sugar in them is consuming too much. The key here is volume, not product. Red wine is very good for you when it’s two to three glasses per day. More than that and it’s maybe not (as my wife reminds me). It’s not the product; it’s the volume. So teach people to drink less and to consume less sugar in whatever form. Why tax something people enjoy? Is sex next on the list?

Anyway, I doubt the bill will pass as there are far too many bills of higher priority with little time left in the 16th Congress to cover them all. More important reform measures such as an amendment to the economic clauses in the Constitution, Freedom of Information (FOI), creation of a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Anti-Smuggling and Customs Modernization have been languishing in Congress for up to 20 years now, that’s where attention needs to be given. These bills need to be the priorities in the little time left.

It should be the principle for the next admin to take on board: educate, don’t control. Assume people, if properly informed, can decide intelligently about their lives. It’s a good assumption to make.

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I visited the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao and chatted with Pamana about her impending release to be with her friends. I got the sense she was excited at the thought of that freedom. A freedom that made her free to be killed by a monster. The heartless bastard who shot Pamana, the icon of our national bird, must end up in jail.

What sickness of the mind enjoys killing animals for sport or trophy? I get great satisfaction from knowing that the life of Walter Palmer has been destroyed since he shot Cecil (Zimbabwe’s celebrity lion) for a trophy. “It was legal,” he said. What has legality got to do with it? What kind of country allows such murder to be legal? Some 7 billion humans are wiping all other species off this planet at a frightening rate—for shark fin soup or ivory statues for god’s sake. We need to aggressively promote public awareness and the importance of protecting the Philippine eagle, and other endangered species.

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wallace_likeitis@wbf.ph

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TAGS: marijuana, Pamana, Philippine Eagle Center, Sugar, Tax
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