Why Do We Tax Ramen?

Why do we tax?

Why do we tax ramen?

Photo by Anton Diaz of Our Aweseme Planet

I took a deep breath when I entered. I love the smell of Japanese restaurants. Almost everything here is imported. The flour they use for the noodles. The machine they use to roll it. The indredients and beverages. Hey, I won't even be surprised to know that most of the furniture and materials here are made in China (I once talked to this contractor who said they get most of their supplies from China).

If you look at the bigger picture, there was a global effort — a collection and trade of tiny efforts and labors — just to build the brilliant puzzle that is Ramen Yushoken. And may I say, their broth is profound and life-changing.

So why do we tax? Why do we tax ramen?

In the US or in many other countries, there would be extremists who will demand for a boycott. They are stealing our jobs! This ramen place is not patriotic! Perhaps some Filipinos from the left will get upset too: Japanese rice is hurting our farmers!

From my experience though, not many Filipinos are hostile towards trade. In fact, we have always embraced it. Since the dawn of civilization, long before the colonists came, we were already trading with the Chinese, Malays, and other groups of people. No bureaucrats were there to impose "duties" or taxes, no one man had authority to dictate what kind of medium of exchange should be used. Before the colonists entered to impose imaginary lines around a group of islands and the concept of an absolute State, our ancestors engaged in voluntary exchange and power was decentralized.

You see, the concept of taxation was never rooted on the idea of "fair" redistribution or poverty alleviation. Taxation started from the monarchs, landlords, tyrants, serfs, colonists etc.

In fact, the first revolt in the north was because of taxation. Diego Silang gathered people to bear arms and rise up against tobacco taxation. If Diego Silang was alive today, he'd probably be a lobbyist against the Sin Tax.

Why do we tax ramen?

Rizal actually loved pancit, a fusion recipe created because of our trade with the Chinese. In Binondo, where the early Chinese settlers traded, you can still buy really awesome pancit up to today.

I bet when Rizal stayed in Japan, he loved ramen as well.

 But it's just ramen, Harry! Gosh, don't you care about those who can't afford ramen?

Okay. Let's keep the same principle but replace the commodity.

Why do we tax? Why do we tax medicine?

Why would protectionists, who care so much about alleviating poverty, increase the cost of medicine? Why would an administration who takes pride in passing a universal healthcare law or implementing drug price controls, favor taxing medicine? Plain and simple, taking out VAT, border tariffs, and unnecessary taxes on pharma companies will dramatically decrease the price of medicine. (see also The Unintended Consequences of Dictating the Price of Medicine)

Why do we tax books and computers?

Why would these people who advocate education for all, increase the costs of the exact same materials and technologies that will educate people and even liberate them? (see also Will Technology Liberate Our Money?)

Why do we tax workers?

Why punish the productive sector of society and redistribute their wealth to the unproductive sector? Why hurt the lower and middle class by taking a big cut of their paycheck while the elites get to use loopholes in our complex tax code to avoid taxation? Why can't people like me opt out of all these things you take out from my paycheck that I don't want anything to do with?   (see also On Wage Labor and the Invisible Tax)

Why do we tax tourists?

When we go to Singapore, there is no need for a visa. When Singaporeans go here, they need to add costs by applying for and paying for visa. It's ridiculous. On top of that is a bunch of other fees and taxes we make the tourists shoulder. In Singapore, when you arrive at the airport before departure, you may refund consumption taxes. Take a look at the open borders of Hong Kong and Singapore (in both trade and travel) and see how much it contributes to their peace and prosperity. (see also The Singapore Argument)

Why. Do. We. Tax. Ramen?

But roads will magically stop being built! The economy will collapse! Many will die and suffer and everyone will be stupid if you take away taxes!

There's really no basis for this kind of sentiment. What we need to do, in fact, is lower taxes (see also Greco Belgica on the Flat Tax) and lower government spending (see also Deficit Spending of Governments... and me).

Diego Silang hated the tobacco tax. I hate the sin tax too. But more importantly, I'm hungry and the high prices of ramen makes me sad.

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