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The Perfect President

Posted Nov 10, '12 at 3:51pm

pangtongshu

pangtongshu

8,227 posts

Like Kings/leaders of nations used to do before...fight side by side with their country-men.
====
they never did.

What? Of course they did...I can pull out many instances in my favorite time period (Three Kingdom Era) where the ruler/leader fought by their men

Bonaparte, Vlad, Harold, Tamalan, Richard III (last king of England to die in battle), and many Anglo-Saxon kings led their men into battle many times (to name a very few amount of the kings/leaders to do so)

 

Posted Nov 10, '12 at 4:10pm

ryan7g

ryan7g

489 posts

Evidence and Reason to suggest this sin tax would be wise:

1. To cut down on obesity, as a mod (I forget who, it was either you or NoName said) even agreed it would be helpful to this obesity issue to a small degree. The degree of which shall remain unknown unless this sin tax is implemented.
2. None of the current strategies to help rectify this issue has even been slightly effective. Therefore we need to try a different approach. This would be a good example of a different approach.
3. All tax money goes straight back into your streets, cops salaries, hospitals etc... so even though the reason of this sin tax is not one of gaining money for they country and community it is still an advantage of this sin tax nonetheless.
4. This is a reasonable alternative strategy to help rectify this issue because it is neither unlawful nor unconstitutional.
5. If this sin tax achieves its goal (which is to help rectify this obesity problem) the sin tax would then go away, until such a time as it is needed again if ever. So it is not like this would be a permanent solution.
6. Many people in Canada and America are Christians (over 70% of the population according to recent demographics), gluttony is also one of the seven deadly sins. Therefore it stands to reason that many people would approve of this sin tax. Even though religion is not one of the reasons for this sin tax being implemented, having many people back this law up would be a benefit.

I do not think any of these points is "sophistry" or "ill-conceived hogwash" or any of your other patronizing remarks, and by the way these are my main reasons as to why this sin tax would be smart/beneficial.

This.

I could easily say the same about you and NoName. I have made no baseless accusations and wild assumptions with nothing more than opinion and "meaningless ideology." I've backed everything I said up with reasonable responses.

You however have not. As soon as you choose to intentionally insult and patronize others as part of your argument, your argument loses all credibility.

And this.

I couldn't have said it any better myself. That's the jist of it right there. You guys can patronize each other all you want, but to sit there and say that Von has provided "faulty or no evidence" or that he's given "baseless accusations and wild assumptions" makes it seem like you're overcompensating for the fact that you're arguing for nothing but your massive ego at this point.

 

Posted Nov 10, '12 at 4:24pm

NoNameC68

NoNameC68

5,069 posts

Knight

- Taxation would be parliament/senate approved.
- For tax laws to go into place they follow long and fairly complicated legal procedures.
- Over four different votes have to be approved before new laws can be established.
- Elected officials by the people, who serve the people will have proposed this.

- Armed robbery is illegal.
- Armed robbery is actually coercion (you force your will upon others with threats and physical force).
- Armed robbery is simply and utterly wrong, unconstitutional and unlawful (as defined by the criminal code).
- Tax laws would not be unconstitutional, or unlawful or wrong if officials from your parliament and your elected leader passes this new tax law.

Your argument is that as long as it's legal, it's moral.

This conversation does need to end, so that's all I'm saying.

 

Posted Nov 10, '12 at 11:45pm

Strop

Strop

10,823 posts

Moderator

Ah, so since they aren't mods in this thread and they're interlocutors that gives them the right to just insult, and condescend when they feel like it?

You misunderstood me. I'm saying that they aren't acting in their capacity as a moderator given that they aren't redirecting the argument or monitoring users' behaviours, so much as joining in, so nobody reading that exchange ought to feel that a moderator's arguments carries any more weight by virtue of them being a moderator, and more importantly, that no moderator ought to think this to be the case either. I was actually addressing a concern from another user earlier in the thread, that implied that they perceived the moderators to be "throwing their weight around".

As for the insults and the condescension, I'm not going to deny that I can see specific examples of it, and in blue text at that. Now a spirited argument can be prone to heated exchanges and provocation, but really, this shouldn't be the case coming from any user, moderator or not. And that's one of the reasons I decided to put a stop to this exchange.

On this note, VonHeisenberg, I told three people in this thread to stop posting walls of text about the same conversation. You were one of them. You then go on to post not one, but two walls of text. I understand you feel compelled to respond to statements directed at/against you (and that you feel maligned, not unjustifiably so), but I have already stated that I deemed it not constructive and it needed to cease.

Nemo has at least had the good grace to acknowledge this and has attempted to sum up your underlying premise. If you wish to continue this discussion, I suggest you address that, and only that. Not the little itty bits and various provocations and details that frankly don't seem to amount to very much from either end.

Voidy has not posted anything since I posted but I expect he should understand what I'm saying.

...makes it seem like you're overcompensating for the fact that you're arguing for nothing but your massive ego at this point.

Don't even start.

Further petty bickering from anyone will be dealt with appropriately, regardless of who and what position you hold. Everybody is on notice.

 

Posted Nov 11, '12 at 12:10am

Strop

Strop

10,823 posts

Moderator

Okay now that's over with, perhaps we can resume discussing the content of the arguments without getting so heated.

Many people in Canada and America are Christians (over 70% of the population according to recent demographics), gluttony is also one of the seven deadly sins. Therefore it stands to reason that many people would approve of this sin tax.

That's a pretty big leap. While people may mark themselves "Christian" on the census, if you were to survey people on just how much they knew about the theology of their religion, most of them wouldn't know the first thing about Jesus Christ, let alone the central tenets of their doctrine. What's more reasonable to believe is that most of the so-called Christians of America don't hold values consistent with the traditional doctrines of most mainstream denominations, because while they declare themselves Christian in name, frankly Christianity has really faded out of the American culture as a whole. It's this shift in cultural focus, and the loss of the central place that Christian values (and the Church) had in early US society that generates so much argument about the US being historically a "Christian nation", and the letter of the Constitution, after all.

If this sin tax achieves its goal (which is to help rectify this obesity problem) the sin tax would then go away, until such a time as it is needed again if ever. So it is not like this would be a permanent solution.

It's also a pretty bold to say that a) a single tax is going to be effective b) it only needs to be used once and then it just might be repealed and never need to be used again. Based on the history of interventions, those that didn't, as I mentioned earlier, result in a deep underlying cultural shift, will be proven ineffective as soon as withdrawn, even assuming it might do anything in the first place.

 

Posted Nov 11, '12 at 1:13am

hojoko

hojoko

556 posts

VonHeisenbourg makes a valid point; that is, incentives, especially monetary incentives, can be much more effective than regulations. However, choices of personal lifestyle, healthy or unhealthy, are part of the roots of my country and are necessary in a capitalist economy. A 'sin' tax on consumer products such as cigarettes or alcohol, wouldn't necessarily provide incentives to quit. Instead it would provide incentives for alternative methods of purchase, in the black market or some other manner. The ridiculously high alcohol tax in Washington doesn't provide us with an incentive to quit drinking. We just go to Oregon instead. A tax on products (such as Coca-Cola) would be incredibly economically damaging for two reasons (I'll use Coca-Cola as an example):

First, the tax would increase the price of a bottle of Coke without any correlation to the cost of production. This means that Coke would now have to reduce the quality of their drinks (insofar as it can be reduced) or cut costs in production, transportation, or their work force--including laying-off workers or outsourcing more jobs--to compete with the lower-quality and cheaper drinks provided manufactured by stores themselves (ex. QFC or Safeway's 'Refreshe' drinks).
Secondly, not specifically related to Coca-Cola, this tax would hit lower-income families the hardest, who generally can't afford the cost in time or money of buying and preparing their own food from ingredients. Furthermore, it would cause a rise in shoplifting, which could potentially devastate smaller markets in low-income neighborhoods, where the costs of business are already high and profit comes from so-called 'junk-foods'.

On the other hand, a sin tax could provide incentives for companies to pursue cheaper, more efficient (and hopefully more eco-friendly) transportation and delivery methods...

Either way, my ideal government (I'm choosing to add Congress to this, purely because the President doesn't  make all the choices) would apply economic incentives on a larger scale. So rather than taxing consumer products, the government could use carbon offsets or 'energy shares' (as I like to think of them) to combat global warming. The government would allocate a total amount of carbon emissions the country could use, then require households and businesses to purchase a 'share' of this energy for use, which could then be bought and sold on the market. Of course, this would require worldwide cooperation and practice for it to be truly effective, but I can still dream :P

 

Posted Nov 11, '12 at 2:20am

Strop

Strop

10,823 posts

Moderator

Secondly, not specifically related to Coca-Cola, this tax would hit lower-income families the hardest, who generally can't afford the cost in time or money of buying and preparing their own food from ingredients.

Relevant particularly because it's the low socio-economic status demographic that are hit hardest by health issues like obesity etc. a) They're not sufficiently equipped to, shall we say, actualise a healthy lifestyle, and this is in part caused by b) practices from multinational corporations that exploit this weakness, as surveys of proliferation of franchise outlets demonstrates.

Either way, my ideal government (I'm choosing to add Congress to this, purely because the President doesn't  make all the choices) would apply economic incentives on a larger scale. So rather than taxing consumer products, the government could use carbon offsets or 'energy shares' (as I like to think of them) to combat global warming. The government would allocate a total amount of carbon emissions the country could use, then require households and businesses to purchase a 'share' of this energy for use, which could then be bought and sold on the market. Of course, this would require worldwide cooperation and practice for it to be truly effective

I'm not sure if you actually intended to, but this sums up both the rationale and the practical challenges in the notion of Carbon Offsetting. Australia has, in fact, adopted Carbon Tax... a very controversial move and unusually ballsy of the Labor Government, given they introduced it at a time their polls were already flagging, and their opponents the Liberal/National coalition were doing quite a job of scaring people with another argument mentioned on this page, that broad taxes like these end up hurting end-consumers and small businesses as costs to large businesses and primary suppliers are merely passed on. Strangely enough the whole thing blew over when the Carbon Tax was put into practice and the public realised that paradoxically, as sound as our concerns were, rises in our energy bills and cost of consumables were not at all attributable to the Carbon Tax, but instead other nonsensical practices perpetrated by our energy suppliers.

Australia has a long track record of being a welfare-based country, with a longstanding public health system. We moan and whine about those who exploit the system (and there are many), but at the same time people embrace their entitlements and depend on them, so any person with any degree of insight shouldn't complain unreasonably. (However Australian politics is in such a poor state that your average Australian can't see the wood for the trees and could be more likened to a pack of very suggestible, rabid dogs).

A country like the US, however, which has a culture that seems to be averse to "one for all and all for one" and seems to prefer "look out for number one, and that number one is you and you alone", I can see why such an approach would be unpopular.

 

Posted Nov 11, '12 at 3:10am

VonHeisenbourg

VonHeisenbourg

215 posts

That's a pretty big leap. While people may mark themselves "Christian" on the census, if you were to survey people on just how much they knew about the theology of their religion, most of them wouldn't know the first thing about Jesus Christ, let alone the central tenets of their doctrine.

I think you underestimate people and what they know about their religions. If you were to survey the average person I'm quite sure that he or she would know the most basic and rudimentary "facts" about Jesus Christ.

1. He is Jewish.
2. He is God's son.
3. He died for our sins

I also think the average person would also know the central tenets of their specific denomination of Christianity. Which is pretty much the 10 commandments which most if not all denominations of Christianity believe in.

The central tenets without quoting the 10 commandments would be:

1. Thou shalt not kill.
2. Thou shalt not steal.
3. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
4. Thou shalt say the name of God in vain.
5. Thou shalt not believe in another (g)God.
6. Keep the Sabbath (or as is more commonly known; Sunday) holy.
7. Honour and cherish thy farther and mother.

Lastly thou shalt seek repentance for all of ones sins.

If you were to survey and ask people if they knew that these were the central tenets of Christianity and that all those things about Jesus is true, I'm sure people would say (without lying) yes. I think you are simply underestimating religious belief in relation to Christianity in N. America.

hojoko wrote:

Sin taxes have historically triggered rampant smuggling and black markets, especially when they create large price differences in neighboring jurisdictions. 

We just go to Oregon instead.


Obviously you didn't say exactly this, but I'm just paraphrasing what you said to make a smaller post.

What I'm proposing isn't different taxes in different states, but instead a set tax for every state that is the exact same in every state (and province for Canada). If the sin taxes were set up this way there probably wouldn't be any black marketing (unless you wanted to go overseas to save 20 cents on a dollar for a soda). Therefore if the tax is set at 20% in Oregon, and it is 20% in Washington. There wouldn't be any black marketing, because the would be black marketers wouldn't make any profit if they bought chips at $6 in Washington but sold at $5 in a bordering state.

Make sense?

It's also a pretty bold to say that a) a single tax is going to be effective b) it only needs to be used once and then it just might be repealed and never need to be used again.

I agree that it is pretty bold, because in honesty it is bold.

I would just like to point out that I have never said that this sin tax would completely rectify this obesity issue, but instead that it would be a beginning and that it would help this issue.

Based on the history of interventions, those that didn't, as I mentioned earlier, result in a deep underlying cultural shift, will be proven ineffective as soon as withdrawn, even assuming it might do anything in the first place.

That's true, but earlier prohibitions and sin tax laws were flawed. They would make a prohibition on something such as liquor in America, but then the liquor would be made legal in Canada, or a sin tax (or tax in general) on one item (such as alcohol in Washington as hojoko pointed out) but not make it the same in places like Oregon. That is ineffective because it is then far to easy for a black market/smuggling to spring up.

Secondly, not specifically related to Coca-Cola, this tax would hit lower-income families the hardest, who generally can't afford the cost in time or money of buying and preparing their own food from ingredients.

Not necessarily, because you can buy items in bulk for a cheaper cost than crappy foods in lesser quantities (I can't think of the antonym to bulk right now, so "lesser quantity" will have to do).

Just because there are sin taxes on sodas and bags of chips it doesn't mean I'm saying that low-income families should buy the highest quality and brand name healthy foods. You can still buy healthier types of foods (meats, grains, dairies etc...) for a lower price or equivalent price of some junkfoods, the quality of these healthy foods wouldn't be the best on the market, instead it would be better than the junkfoods, but still the same price as them. Example, for one bag of brand name quality chips you can buy for the same price a loaf of bread and some margarine. The sin tax is an incentive to buy the bread and margarine.

Again though I don't know why people assume these sin taxes would be a strain on a low-income family. Have you ever thought that people not buying these snack foods because of the taxes would save them money? If they don't buy these snack foods that are junk foods it isn't like they'll starve. Instead they are likely to gain money because they hadn't spent it so needlessly.

Furthermore, it would cause a rise in shoplifting, which could potentially devastate smaller markets in low-income neighborhoods, where the costs of business are already high and profit comes from so-called 'junk-foods'.

That is a good point, a very good one actually, however to stop these higher rises in shoplifting cases due to the aforementioned tax law I would suggest that shop lifters be made an example of by pursuing them to the full (but reasonable) extent of the law for their crimes, as a deterrent to other shoplifters.

P.S. I've tried to make this post as short as possible to avoid a "text" wall, and I have only brought up new points that I have not yet used. No old reincarnated points that were previously mentioned in other posts, are in this one.

 

Posted Nov 11, '12 at 6:12am

Strop

Strop

10,823 posts

Moderator

Wall of text isn't always a sin, it's only so when it gets out of hand. Still, we could all try to be as concise as possible.

I think you underestimate people and what they know about their religions

It's true that I haven't provided any substantiation (nor have you, and your example alone doesn't constitute one either.) So let's see if I can find any indication. Try examining this article, a simple survey from a research database which decent sample size and depth.

Frankly the average success rate of those surveyed does exceed my expectations, though I will draw your attention to the spread in the results: the groups that performed the best were those who do not subscribe to religion. These are also the groups that are most likely to reject a religious foundation to a country's values. But I won't labour this point as it is of limited impact to the main argument.

I would just like to point out that I have never said that this sin tax would completely rectify this obesity issue, but instead that it would be a beginning and that it would help this issue.

Sure. But for the purposes of this discussion I suggested earlier, and I will suggest again that a sin tax, in all forms of its practical and feasible implementation, would be counterproductive to its aims.

Feasibility is a pretty big word here, too, as in a perfect world, a proposed system with sound rationale might work. But alas, this is not a perfect world, and so we're here to debate real contingencies, and "that is not a realistic expectation" is key.

Again though I don't know why people assume these sin taxes would be a strain on a low-income family. Have you ever thought that people not buying these snack foods because of the taxes would save them money?...

I'll continue on from what I started mentioning in my previous post: based on real data on the spending habits of low-income households, it's known that these households are more vulnerable to certain poor lifestyle choices. In particular, their dietary habits tend to be poorer because they're time, skill and money poor. You do mention that the sin tax would theoretically point them towards healthier alternatives, but in reality it is not that simple, and I do have to point out that I could paraphrase your case here as "we can stop them from eating junk food and compel them to make budget, low-quality restricted range generic product purchases instead" (why am I eerily reminded of Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake" remark at this point?) As you can see that's going to be quite the hard sell.

Healthy alternatives tend to be more expensive and less available in these areas because fast-food franchises etc. tend to exploit them by buying out and setting up. Fast-food is on average cheaper and more convenient and therefore frequented by poorer people. There are alternatives in theory but it'll take much more than a sin tax to shift the balance of habit-shaping circumstances.

I'm not saying that this is at all a situation that should continue, but these are the contingencies that you may not have been aware of that I think you need to consider when thinking about how a "sin tax" might affect the wrong demographic in unintended manners.

If you did want to legislate lifestyle regulations, I'd be focusing not on charging people based on the decisions they make, as I suggest that not only is no person 100% autonomous, but different people have different degrees of autonomy based on their circumstance (an uncomfortable notion for some, but realistic to me.) I would rather be regulating those pulling the strings. Laws regulating where companies can put their franchises, requiring them to openly disclose nutritional information, requiring them to invest in aiding people to make correct lifestyle choices.

Again, Australia has been recently very proactive in tackling the broader issue of cultural health. This year, it has been made mandatory to publish nutritional data on every article of fast food sold (which I have found personally helpful, but only because I'm an experienced calorie counter). It has also passed the bill that requires cigarette packaging to be in as unappealing colours as possible (olive green and grey, I think). At the same time, social campaigns are being launched using social media (like Facebook) to raise awareness, complementing these top-end laws. And I think that's the kind of approach we need to be making on a sustained basis, none of which requires a sin tax.

 

Posted Nov 11, '12 at 12:44pm

hojoko

hojoko

556 posts

Again though I don't know why people assume these sin taxes would be a strain on a low-income family. Have you ever thought that people not buying these snack foods because of the taxes would save them money?

To expand upon what Strop pointed out, costs aren't just monetary. Costs can be in time, skill or any number of things, which means that for a low-income family with providers working multiple jobs to stay afloat (as they so often need to), costs are much higher for 'healthier' options. Although the price as related to the quantity of food might be cheaper for 'healthier' options and ingredients, it would be more expensive in costs. Both because of the time it would take to prepare the food (which as I mentioned before can be extraordinarily costly to low-income families), and because the amount of the ingredients they would actually use are much less than the amount they're paying for.

Let me give you an example:

A low-income family is presented with options of a fast-food dinner or a healthy meal in the form of home-made soup. They decide to choose the 'healthier' option and make their own vegetable soup. So they cheaply buy, in bulk, some beans, carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, as well as some parsley and olive oil, and they make enough soup to last a week. The problem is nobody wants to eat the same vegetable soup for a week, so whatever they don't eat is an additional cost, without a return in any benefit. Of course, they could buy smaller amounts of ingredients, but that would also entail more frequent shopping, which is incredibly costly in time.

You also brought up buying 'healthier' options like yogurt or bread and margarine, but then the government would have to get into the messy business of defining what's healthy and what's not. Margarine, cheese, yogurt, and butter all can have incredibly high caloric content and other unhealthy effects, so would they be considered 'junk-food' and taxed as such? Or would they be separated by healthy options an unhealthy options of each product, which would greatly interfere with the economics of the free-market?

Therefore if the tax is set at 20% in Oregon, and it is 20% in Washington. There wouldn't be any black marketing, because the would be black marketers wouldn't make any profit if they bought chips at $6 in Washington but sold at $5 in a bordering state.

I believe you meant to say bought at $6 and sold at $6, right?

And while the idea of black-market chips is rather amusing, I was thinking more in terms of cigarettes and alcohol. So, essentially, the tax would have to be a federal tax on top of the state taxes that already exist, which are pretty high. This would of course greatly encourage the growth of black-markets for these goods in one way or another. If the tax is federal, goods would be smuggled from Canada. If the tax existed in Canada, the goods would come from Mexico. If the tax encompassed the entire NAFTA region, the goods would come from Central America or bootleggers. Where there is profit to be found, someone will always find it.

That is a good point, a very good one actually, however to stop these higher rises in shoplifting cases due to the aforementioned tax law I would suggest that shop lifters be made an example of by pursuing them to the full (but reasonable) extent of the law for their crimes, as a deterrent to other shoplifters.

They already are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It doesn't seem to help much, especially when the profits can be extraordinary. But whether shoplifting occurs for profit or for oneself, the threat of prosecution doesn't seem to be a huge deterrent.

I'm not sure if you actually intended to, but this sums up both the rationale and the practical challenges in the notion of Carbon Offsetting. Australia has, in fact, adopted Carbon Tax... a very controversial move and unusually ballsy of the Labor Government, given they introduced it at a time their polls were already flagging, and their opponents the Liberal/National coalition were doing quite a job of scaring people with another argument mentioned on this page, that broad taxes like these end up hurting end-consumers and small businesses as costs to large businesses and primary suppliers are merely passed on. Strangely enough the whole thing blew over when the Carbon Tax was put into practice and the public realised that paradoxically, as sound as our concerns were, rises in our energy bills and cost of consumables were not at all attributable to the Carbon Tax, but instead other nonsensical practices perpetrated by our energy suppliers.

I did intend to, as carbon offsets are something I've been very interested in (I study economics, so I tend to look for solutions related to my field). I didn't know that about Australia though. That's really, really cool. It's also, unfortunately, a seemingly universal condition where something will be opposed until it's passed and people are shown that it's, in fact, good.

A country like the US, however, which has a culture that seems to be averse to "one for all and all for one" and seems to prefer "look out for number one, and that number one is you and you alone", I can see why such an approach would be unpopular.

I blame a combination of old-time values and free-market economics for that. We've been shown for quite a while now that when we look out for our individual selves economically, that tends to result in economic improvement for everyone (in a free-market). It seems to have negatively affected our rationales for most everything else.

Strop, I do apologize for the large amount text. I really do. It's just that this is all so interesting. I can't help myself.

 
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