Enforced, Unpaid Tax Gatherers and Enforced, Unpaid Policemen

I was reading somewhere today about how Bloomberg, Gates and other Foundations have been financing the imposition of taxes on tobacco in under-developed countries. Typically, these countries are in Asia, Africa and such places. The funding seems to have the objective of training government employees in those countries how to impose such taxes with the least amount of squealing. I do not know if there is some sort of contractual obligation for these Foundations to get their money back eventually – it would not surprise me if that were not so.

The imposition of extra taxes on tobacco products is a key demand of the FCTC, and, after a little thought, you can see why. It is a triple whammy:

1. There is a ‘choke point’ at the manufacturer/importer stage. Such companies are required to self-police and pay the duties under both criminal and common law. These companies must keep accurate records and have secure warehouses, all of which cost the companies lots of money. These costs are paid eventually by the consumer, who is not represented at any step in the process. The consumer PAYS.

2. From the FCTC point of view, the increased costs to the consumer are likely to have the effect of forcing many poorer people to stop smoking. Since more poorer people smoke than wealthier, it is likely that there will be a numerically greater amount of ‘smoking cessation’ among the poor relative to the wealthy, and so statistics will show ‘great success’.

3. Governments generally find it difficult to resist clever schemes which have the effect of increasing taxation income at minimal cost. It is a no-brainer, especially when there are supposedly ‘massive health benefits’ to be had (in the far distant future, maybe).

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There is no doubt that this ploy worked wonderfully well – for a time. But, in modern times, when people are much more ‘savvy’, what with the internet and such, and with much greater ‘savviness’ among manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and consumers, the consequences of these tax policies are having the opposite effect. There is now no major tobacco manufacturer left in England. So who is collecting duties? It can only be importers. But importers are a much bigger group than manufacturers, so, even though they have to do all the work, it is far more difficult for the authorities to ensure that they are fully complying. The previously simple systems come under stress. Further, as we know. the massive taxes (in Ireland, for example) have driven a new Industry, which is hidden imports. I refuse to call it ‘smuggling’ since that implies some sort of iniquity. The real iniquity lies in the taxes. The taxes are unjust – the hidden imports are just.

It is fairly easy for the ‘Authorities’ to impose their ‘tax efficient demands’, provided that there are easy targets. These impositions take little time. But it takes a much greater time for THE PEOPLE to overturn the demands of this Elite. It is a much slower process. It is a moot point as to which group is the more ‘evil’ – the Elite or the Smugglers.

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How on Earth did publicans etc permit themselves to be recruited as unpaid enforcers of the smoking ban?

I dare say that there are many other examples. For example, there used to be the ‘drinking up time’ law. Publicans were forced to force their patrons to sup up and get out. That was a law for a long time, but it was always seen as silly since it only really applied to ‘public houses’ (aka, the masses). It did not apply to the places which ‘The Elite’ frequented. Also, car drivers are forced to ensure that under-age passengers are properly secured (but they are not required to ensure that adults properly secure themselves). (I suspect that that is only so because of the great difficulty which taxi-drivers and bus drivers would have to enforce such a law) In fact, when you think about it, the only reason that the Smoking Ban was possible was because it was possible! That is, there was no inherent reason that ALL pubs, clubs, buses, taxis, etc, etc, should NOT be recruited to enforce the bans. Thus, the General Smoking Bans WERE ONLY POSSIBLE because they were possible. There was no great need for them, but they could be imposed.

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There have been other situations in the recent past where similar considerations have applied. Take for instance the ‘bail-in’ in Cyprus, where the bank accounts of Cypriots were raided by EU dictat to ‘bail in’ the losses of Cypriot banks which had resulted from their extravagant interest rates on deposits. It was something like a ponzi scheme. No need to go into detail. Suffice to say that the EU had encourage the Cypriot Banks to misbehave in the first place, and then forced Cypriots to correct the EU’s errors.

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The problem with these sort of laws is that they extend themselves. For example, it seems that there are moves afoot to make it a criminal offence NOT TO report SUSPICIONS of child abuse. Also, they become more and more ephemeral -in other words, lacking in definition. How is ‘child abuse’ to be defined for such purposes?

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Our political system stinks. It used to have the objective of controlling the executive so that THE PEOPLE could go about their daily lives free from imposition and persecution. Now, it seems to exist to enable that imposition and persecution.

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