Thursday, October 28, 2021

Pol Ideology 81, Human rights and dangers of turning socialist

Yesterday, my friend and young dynamic lawyer, Atty Arpee Santiago gave a talk at our college alumni group UPSEAA. Good lecture.

Arpee started with historical and philosophical evolution of the concept of human rights (HR), from thousands years BC to the present.

Other notes from Arpee's lecture:

1. HR's four main characteristics:
Universal, Inherent, Inalinable, and Indivisible. 

2. Evolution of HR international:
 
Universal Declaration of HR (adopted since 1948) 

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (right to life, freedom of religion, expression, assembly, due process) 

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (labor rights, right to health, right to education, right to adequate standard of living).

My comment: The 3rd is a move towards socialistic set up. Health and education have become state responsibility when they should be personal and parental/guardian responsibility.

3. State obligations re HR:

Obligation to Respect -- refrain from interfering with the enjoyment of rights.
Obligation to Protect -- prevent violation of rights by other persons and third parties.
Obligation to Fulfill -- take appropriate measures towards realization of rights.

My comment: These are consistent with the Intl. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, good.

4. Three Pillars of UN Guiding Principles on HR:

Protect -- State duty to protect (prevent, investigate, punish, redress)
Respect -- Corporate responsibility to respect (respect HR throughout operations)
Remedy -- Victims access to remedy.

During the QnA, I posted my Qs:

1. Hi Arpee, do other people have “human rights” over my (or your) income and savings?
If No, thank you.  If yes, on what basis, why, and how much?

2. Re “environmental rights” leading to higher fossil fuel taxes to “protect the environment/planet”, don’t farmers, harvesters, fisherfolks, truckers, etc also have human rights to cheaper oil, energy?

3. Is “non-poverty” or zero poverty a human right?
If No, good. If yes, how about those who are lazy, or industrious and work 7 days a week but also party and drink 7 nights a week and have zero savings, they deserve subsidies?

4. Re mandatory vax, currently implicit mandate via discrimination, since govt and pharma manufacturers have no liability and accountability if sickness and death happens after vax, if companies force their employees to be vaxxed, will they have liability?
If No, why? Any law/s that protect them from culpability?
If Yes, what laws specify their culpability re financial and personal damages?

5. If in doubt re lockdown vs econ dislocations, mandatory vax, the Constitution prevails, especially the Bill of Rights. Right?

Arpee answers:

1. No.
2. Complicated topic. Other example is mining.
3. Implicitly Yes. 4Ps pre pandemic, Ayuda during pandemic.
4. (My internet goes bonker, got disconnected, did not hear his ans. Out of town and using only Globe data)
5. A judicial matter.

Arpee is a product of UP (undergrad) and Ateneo (law), bad combination and likely to be socialist minded. But Arpee is also practical and has FNF bearing of freedom, thanks.

A socialist would answer my Qs above as:

1. Yes.
2. No.
3. Yes.
4. No.
5. No.

And I will debate a socialist anytime. ;-)

Thanks for the good talk, Arpee.
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See also: 
Pol. Ideology 78, Milton Friedman and China, October 26, 2020 
Pol. Ideology 79, Paul Krugman leftism, January 03, 2021
Pol Ideology 80, Capitalism reset, liberal democracy, September 10, 2021.

Climate 102, Climate money expectation, from $100 B/year to trillion+ per year

The expected climate money based on the UN climate meeting 2015, the "Paris Agreement" was $100 B a year starting 2020 to 2025 or so. Now only two months to 2022 and this is not yet happening.

And the big price of dishonesty by the UN, the multilaterals, rich countries and their NGOs, climate academics etc -- they painted big scare, big alarm about the climate. Now the poorer countries want big money, big trillions from them.

Lessons: (1) Climate dishonesty invites climate extortion; and (2) No climate emergency. Really.
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To Strike a Climate Deal, Poor Nations Say They Need Trillions From Rich Ones
By Matthew Dalton  Oct. 18, 2021 10:40 am ET
https://www.wsj.com/articles/to-strike-a-climate-deal-poor-nations-say-they-need-trillions-from-rich-ones-11634568010

"At a July global climate gathering in London, South African environment minister Barbara Creecy presented the world’s wealthiest countries with a bill: more than $750 billion annually... India says its climate-change plan alone will cost more than $2.5 trillion through 2030..."
-------------

Public debt/GDP ratio of G7 countries, 2019 and 2020, in %:

Germany: 59.7, 69.8.
UK: 84.4, 92.2.
Canada: 86.8, 118.
France: 97.6, 116.
US: 107, 128.
Italy: 135, 156.
Japan: 238, 266.

These rich countries are already burdened with huge public debt and do not have big resources to cover for huge climate money expected by the developing countries.

For the PH, the government climate budget/spending is 2020 P184 B, 2022 P284 B.
Excluding climate spending of LGUs.

Now Congw and former Senator Loren Legarda, perennial climate traveller, mother of Leandro Leviste with huge solar power businesses, wants more climate money from rich countries taxpayers, and more climate money from PH taxpayers, 

Funding seen insufficient to meet climate commitments
October 26, 2021 | 8:13 pm
https://www.bworldonline.com/funding-seen-insufficient-to-meet-climate-commitments/.

More climate money means they will fight less rain and more rain, less storms and more storms, less cold and more cold, less cats and more cats. Whatever weather and climate, they jus want more money. Which directly benefits themselves, their friends and families. Ayos, save the planet.

UN Climate Change Conference Reportedly Using Diesel Generators To Charge Teslas Being Used As Shuttles
BY TYLER DURDEN     SATURDAY, OCT 16, 2021 - 01:00 PM
https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/un-climate-change-conference-reportedly-using-diesel-generators-charge-teslas-being-used

UK Energy Suppliers Face ‘Massacre’ Amid Soaring Gas Prices
By Tsvetana Paraskova - Oct 21, 2021, 9:00 AM CDT
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/UK-Energy-Suppliers-Face-Massacre-Amid-Soaring-Gas-Prices.html

"More than a dozen power suppliers in the UK have exited the retail energy market in recent weeks

The UK has a so-called Energy Price Cap in place, which protects households from too high bills by capping the price that providers can pass on to them, but which additionally burdens energy providers."

Meanwhile, one data about the current La Nina.

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See also: 
Climate 99, Cooling trend, virus alarm and climate alarm, April 15, 2021 
Climate 100, Marc Morano lecture, May 12, 2021
Climate 101, Degrowth and Darkness Economics, Fr. Villarin lecture, May 15, 2021.

Monday, October 18, 2021

BWorld 509, Lockdown, declining births, growth contraction, and vax discrimination

* My column in BusinessWorld, October 11, 2021.

 The Philippines’ lockdown is turning 19 months long this week. The “two weeks only” lockdown imposed on March 16, 2020 became two months, and is now approaching two years. One more proof that once government restrictions are created, they will hardly go away.

RISING DEATHS, DECLINING BIRTHS

The mandatory social distancing, restriction on mobility, and prohibition of big parties have greatly affected the people’s health and social events like weddings. I checked the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) deaths and births data and the numbers are somewhat surprising.

One, there was no excess mortality in 2020 over 2019. There were, in fact, 6,314 less deaths in 2020 compared to 2019.

Two, excess mortality showed big time in the first half of 2021. There were more deaths in January to June 2021 than the same months in 2020 and 2019 — 72,218 more than 2020 and 52,489 more than 2019. March to May 2021 saw 61,000 to 69,000 deaths per month.

Three, there was a big drop in the number of births in 2020. The average number of births from 2017 to 2019 was 1.68 million per year. In 2020 this declined to only 1.52 million, a decrease of nearly 165,000 births.

Four, there was an even bigger decline in births in January-March 2021 over same months in 2020 and 2019. From 4,300+ births per day in 2019 to less than 4,000 per day in 2020 and less than 3,000 per day in 2021 (see Table 1).

This is not yet a “depopulation” situation but it can lead there over the long term if the trend continues.

ECONOMIC DAMAGE

Reviewing again the economic destruction caused by the strict indefinite lockdown in the Philippines, here are some numbers:

One, the GDP (gross domestic product) contraction in 2020 of -9.6% led to a GDP level of only P17.53 trillion (at constant 2018 prices). This is lower than 2019’s P19.38 trillion and 2018’s P18.26 trillion, and nearly touched 2017’s P17.18 trillion. Nearly three years of economic achievements and output were erased.

Two, the prevailing GDP growth projections for 2021 is 4.3% to 4.5%. At 4.4%, the country’s GDP level in 2021 would then be P18.30 trillion, equivalent to the level in 2018, again three years of economic achievements have evaporated.

Three, rising outstanding public debt. From P8.22 trillion in 2019 to P10.25 trillion in 2020 and P11.64 trillion as of August 2021. It is projected to reach P12.3 trillion by end-2021. Government debt has been rising by P2 trillion per year since last year and will be a heavy burden for taxpayers in the coming years.

More government spending does not lead to more growth.

Until now there are still many economists and observers who argue that the solution to growth contraction is more government spending and borrowing. Far out. The cases of Italy, Spain, France, and the UK show that as they expanded borrowings in 2020, their GDP contraction worsened. Same trend follows for the Philippines and Thailand.

In contrast, some countries that limited their borrowings had either lower contractions or experienced growth in 2020. Examples are the US, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia (see Table 2).

The government-imposed strict lockdown is the culprit, opening the economy with a minimum of health protocols is the solution.

VACCINE DISCRIMINATION

Implicit mandatory vaccination via discrimination against those who do not have a vax card is now happening in some malls, enclosed restaurants and shops in Metro Manila and other big cities. This is a slippery slope, from an implicit vax mandate working slowly towards an explicit vax mandate via legislation someday.

There are two reasons why this move is wrong, anti-democratic, and anti-freedom.

One, this quote from a retired nurse in the US:

“Why do the ‘Protected’ need to be protected from the ‘Unprotected’ by forcing the Unprotected to use the protection that didn’t protect the Protected in the first place?”

Or this can be restated as: If the Protected really believe in their protection, they should not be scared and insecure of the Unprotected and coerce the Unprotected to take their protection that didn’t give them confidence and security in the first place.

Two, a government that imposes the discrimination by penalizing restaurants and shops that do not follow orders, does not discriminate in collecting taxes from the people. There is double talk by government, national or local, in this case. Similar to arguing that healthcare is a basic human right then saying that the unvaccinated should be denied healthcare.

FAREWELL, CHITO GASCON

About three months ago, I and some members of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) met face to face with then Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chito Gascon, and other Commissioners and officials of the CHR. While he supported mass vaccination, he recognized that it is a human right, an individual right, to choose not to be vaccinated for health, philosophical, and other reasons.

Chito was a friend since the 1980s in UP Diliman. He led a virtuous political life, from being a Chairman of the UP Student Council, to becoming a member of the Constitutional Commission of 1986, until his appointment as CHR Chairman in 2015.

Peaceful journey, Chito. You lived a good, productive life.
-----------------

See also: 
BWorld 506, Vaccination plateau and rising cases, September 23, 2021 
BWorld 507, Energy prices, GDP projections, the ERC, and hydro development, October 10, 2021
BWorld 508, Tobacco taxes and smuggling in the Philippines, October 12, 2021.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Covid 58,CDC Ph Huddle about DOH experts, Octa, vaccine

 Early this evening I was one of several speakers and reactors. Aside from the ppt presentations by Doc Jody and me, discussions were spontaneous, free flowing and focused, what a night. Anyway here is my ppt.









The other speakers and contributors were Docs Marivic Villa, Homer Lim, Iggy Agbayani, Jade del Mundo. Sir George Barcelon asked several useful questions.

Great hosting and moderation job by boss Mari Kaimo, Eli Abella and Francis Abraham.
----------------

See also: 
Covid 55, Vax injuries, some testimonies and news reports, September 11, 2021 
Covid 56, Dr. Jody Dalmacion on vaccine development, breakthrough infections, herd immunity, September 19, 2021
Covid 57, No Tricks Zone on vaccine mandates, October 10, 2021.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Energy 156, More on Europe going back to coal and gas

Europe says they hate fossil fuels then beg for more fossil fuels even at high prices because they are scared of massive blackouts, their beloved wind solar are not producing enough power. Also a lesson for Biden "save the planet" agenda.

If people are serious about their planet agenda, they shd endure blackouts, no turning back begging for more fossil fuels esp at high prices. Double talk is easy.

UK experience: Until 1991, its coal power generation was 211 terawatt-hours (TWH). They started "decarbonizing" after that, coal generation down to 131.5 TWH in 2001, 108.4 TWH in 2011, and only 5.4 TWH in 2020. 

Fast forward to Sept. 2021 -- begging for coal to avoid blackouts.

As of 2020 power generation in TWH: Germany, RE 232.4, coal 134.8; UK, RE 127.8, coal 5.4; Netherlands, RE 32.0, coal 8.8.

For the 3 countries mentioned, coal is the past, RE is the present. And frequent blackout is the future. 

Enjoy these reports I encountered. Thanks again to Benny Peiser of The GWPF for his regular news clippings.
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Becalmed wind energy sector has UK turning to coal 
Lack of windy weather over the past two weeks has cut output from 11,000 turbines, which account for more than 20% of power generation
18 SEPTEMBER 2021 - 11:26 
https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/world/europe/2021-09-18-becalmed-wind-energy-sector-has-uk-turning-to-coal/

Column: Looming European energy crisis: A lesson in averages that won’t soon be forgotten 
Terry Etam   September 21, 20216:25 AM 
https://boereport.com/2021/09/21/column-looming-european-energy-crisis-a-lesson-in-averages-that-wont-soon-be-forgotten/

The current poster child for the issue is Great Britain. The UK has 24 GW of wind power installed. The media loves to talk about total renewable GW installed as proof of progress, and the blindingly rapid pace of the energy transition.

However over the past few weeks wind dropped almost to zero, and output from that 24 GW of installed capacity fell to about 1 or 2 GW.

Ordinarily, that would be no problem – just fire up the gas fired power plants, or import power from elsewhere.

But what happens when that isn’t available?

Factbox: Europe grapples with surging power and gas prices
September 23, 2021  9:38 PM PST
https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/europe-tries-soften-blow-surging-power-gas-prices-2021-09-22/

Benchmark European gas prices have surged around 250% this year due to low stock levels, high demand in Asia, high carbon prices and outages.

Governments across Europe are coming under pressure to curb energy bills to help families and small businesses as economies slowly emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

Fracking could have saved us from this energy crisis
The UK has vast gas reserves that we are refusing to exploit.
ROB LYONS   COLUMNIST   23rd September 2021

Care homes warn crippling energy bills could force closures
Care operators’ gas and electricity bills could double this winter as a result of the energy crisis
Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent    Fri 24 Sep 2021 06.00 BST

Global energy production, consumption, inventories and prices: Selected indicators
JOHN KEMP, REUTERS    24 Sep 2021 

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/jnpweykajpw/GLOBAL%20ENERGY%20PRICES.pdf

Europe's energy crisis: A switch back to coal is on the cards
UK among nations facing a ‘bleak winter’ with consumers at risk of being unable to heat their homes
Alice Haine    Sep 24, 2021
https://www.thenationalnews.com/business/energy/2021/09/24/europes-energy-crisis-a-switch-back-to-coal-is-on-the-cards/

Starved of Gas, European Electricity Producers Snap Up Coal
By Isis Almeida, Javier Blas, and Anna Shiryaevskaya.   September 25, 2021, 2:16 AM GMT+8
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-24/starved-of-gas-european-electricity-producers-snap-up-coal

Column: Worldwide energy shortage shows up in surging coal, gas and oil prices 
By John Kemp September 25, 2021 12:27 AM PST 
https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/worldwide-energy-shortage-shows-up-surging-coal-gas-oil-prices-kemp-2021-09-24/

Gasflation
SUNDAY, SEP 26, 2021 - 02:00 PM
By Ryan Fitzmaurice, Senior Commodity Strategist, Elwin de Groot, Head of Macro Strategy and Hugo Erken, Head RR Economic Scenarios & Projections at Rabobank
https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/gasflation

“Everything is energy and that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality […]” — Albert Einstein

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash, it’s a gas, gas, gas” — Rolling Stones

Looking at the big picture, the recent move in global natural gas prices is a long time in the making, and structurally higher natural gas prices are likely here to stay.

Power costs could force metal producers from Europe - Eurometaux
September 27, 2021  7:02 PM PST
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/power-costs-could-force-metal-producers-europe-eurometaux-2021-09-27/

"Rising electricity prices have already led to curtailments and could lead to further relocation of our sector outside Europe if not addressed," said the letter from Eurometaux addressed to Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy.

Climate Policy Meets Cold Reality in Europe
The rush to renewables causes severe energy price spikes and shortages. Biden’s policies would do the same in the U.S.
By Allysia Finley  Sept. 27, 2021 12:40 pm ET
https://www.wsj.com/articles/climate-policy-reality-europe-energy-costs-gas-coal-11632754849 

But renewables don’t provide reliable power around the clock, and wind power this summer has waned across Europe and in the U.K., forcing them to turn to gas and coal for backup power. Yet demand for these fossil fuels is also surging across Asia and South America, where drought has crimped hydropower.

Greenie energy leaves Europe in the cold — the freezing cold
By Monica Showalter   September 28, 2021
https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/09/greenie_energy_leaves_europe_in_the_cold__the_freezing_cold.html

After going green and shutting down its coal, fossil fuel, fracking, and nuclear energy production, and feeling mighty virtuous for doing it, Europe is now going cold — freezing cold.  The region faces a bad winter ahead with energy shortages across the board.  Seems green energy can do everything to make a lefty European feel good except produce the actual energy.

Renewable energy output drops almost a third 
Financial Times, 29 September 2021
https://www.ft.com/content/59c5459e-d542-44a7-86f0-a35d183d99b0

Biden’s Energy Price Shock
His policies are already contributing to global oil supply shortages.
By The Editorial Board   Updated Sept. 30, 2021 2:37 pm ET
https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-bidens-energy-price-shock-oil-gas-opec-shortage-11632950693 

Europe asking Russia for more coal to survive winter energy crunch
Bloomberg, 30 September 2021
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-30/europe-asking-russia-for-more-coal-is-set-for-disappointment

The Looming Energy Crisis: People Are Going To Die This Winter
BILL BLAIN  SEPTEMBER 30, 2021
https://morningporridge.com/blog/blains-morning-porridge/the-looming-energy-crisis-people-are-going-to-die-this-winter/

Make no mistake, this winter is going to be shocking. Be aware. 

Five Things to Read: 

Guardian – China Energy Crisis: Factory activity declines as Energy Crisis hits home.
Torygraph – UK Gas Prices Hit New High
BBerg – Europe’s Energy Crisis is Coming for Rest of World Too
Guardian – What has caused UK energy crisis?
Forbes – What a modern energy crisis looks like, and why no country is safe.

EDITORIAL: Renewable power fuels Europe’s energy crisis
Las Vegas Review-Journal   October 3, 2021 - 9:00 pm
https://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-renewable-power-fuels-europes-energy-crisis-2452619/

More News On The Progress Toward Eliminating Fossil Fuels
October 03, 2021/ Francis Menton
https://www.manhattancontrarian.com/blog/2021-10-3-more-news-on-the-road-to-eliminating-fossil-fuels 

Energy price crunch risks derailing UN climate talks, Iberdrola warns
By Kira Taylor | EURACTIV.com Oct 4, 2021
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/energy-price-crunch-risks-derailing-un-climate-talks-iberdrola-warns/ 

Europe Seeing Renaissance in Coal Power Generation, but There Is Limited Room for Switch From Gas
By:Yakov Grabar    Oct 4, 2021, 19:52 GMT+8
https://www.fxempire.com/forecasts/article/europe-seeing-renaissance-in-coal-power-generation-but-there-is-limited-room-for-switch-from-gas-784029 

Gas price surges to a record high in Europe on supply concerns
Chloe Taylor  TUE, OCT 5 20219:22 AM EDT
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/05/gas-price-surges-to-a-record-high-in-europe-on-supply-concerns-.html

November contracts at the Dutch TTF hub — a European benchmark for natural gas — were trading at around 118 euros per megawatt hour (MWH) just after midday in London.

The front-month contract has risen almost 400% since the start of the year.

Several British energy suppliers have collapsed amid the gas price crisis. September alone reportedly saw nine companies cease trading.

Britain faces bleak winter of soaring energy costs: Gas prices rise by 37% TODAY pushing more firms to brink of collapse, National Grid boss warns of electricity shortages and experts predict bills will soar to £1,700 a year

By MARTIN ROBINSON, CHIEF REPORTER and JAMES TAPSFIELD, POLITICAL EDITOR and JACK WRIGHT FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 07:35 BST, 6 October 2021 | UPDATED: 00:37 BST, 7 October 2021

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10063781/Britains-energy-crisis-deepens-gas-prices-soar-FIFTH-time-high.html 

Britain is facing a bleak winter of soaring energy costs, with gas prices rising by a staggering 37 % in one day

The price of gas reached 400p per therm - the first time it has reached that level - and is up 600% in 2021 

Families face paying £1,700 more for energy in April and an extra £1,800 for other essentials by Christmas 

National Grid's chief executive John Pettigrew said UK will face tighter electricity supplies this winter  

UK industry could face shutdowns as wholesale gas price hits record high
Steel, chemicals and fertiliser industries warn of difficult winter unless government takes emergency action
Rob Davies and Joanna Partridge    Wed 6 Oct 2021 19.00 BST
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/oct/06/uk-industry-could-face-shutdowns-as-wholesale-gas-price-hits-record-high

EU Spooked by Energy Prices Running Wild
By John Ainger   October 7, 2021, 1:05 PM GMT+8
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-10-07/eu-spooked-by-energy-prices-running-wild 

Greater risk of blackouts this winter, Britons are warned
7 October 2021
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/10/07/greater-risk-blackouts-winter-national-grid-warns/ 

Matt Ridley: China is using the climate as a bargaining chip
The Spectator, 9 October 2021
https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/china-is-using-the-climate-as-a-bargaining-chip
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See also:
Energy 153, High natgas and coal prices, September 10, 2021 
Energy 154, Europe rising energy prices, blackout threats, 31 reports, September 21, 2021
Energy 155, IEA flip-flop on oil and gas, Germany's high power prices and blackout, September 24, 2021.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

BWorld 508, Tobacco taxes and smuggling in the Philippines

* My article in BusinessWorld, October 4, 2021.

Keeping taxes of tobacco products high and raising them is a favorite policy measure of governments, health NGOs, and other sectors. The twin goals are: a.) to reduce smoking incidence by making cigarette prices higher, and, b.) raise revenues for government’s universal healthcare (UHC) program.

TOBACCO TAX RATES UNDER FOUR LAWS

Even two decades ago tobacco tax rates were already high. Under Republic Act (RA) 9334 of 2004, cigarettes with retail prices of P6.50 to P10/pack were taxed at P11-P12/pack.

RA 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law of 2017 was implemented in 2018 but by July 2019, Congress created another law, RA 11346, that further raised the tax rates. The P37.50/pack by 2020 under RA 10963 became P45/pack under RA 11346. The P40/pack by 2022 became P55/pack (see Table 1). 

RA 9334 has four tiers of taxes, RA 10351 has two tiers, and many smokers shift to lower-taxed tiers affecting government revenues. So, under RA 10963 and 11346, there is only one tier.

I checked cigarette prices in a 7-Eleven store today: the cheapest brand is P100/pack, the most expensive is P145/pack. Since the tax is P50/pack, then the NRP of these products are perhaps only P30 to P75/pack. Government earns more than the tobacco companies and retailers.

Tobacco excise tax collections were P125.9 billion in 2017, P136.0 billion in 2018, P147.6 billion in 2019, P149.6 billion in 2020, and a projection of P172.3 billion in 2021, and a projection of P199.6 billion in 2022.

TOBACCO SMUGGLING REPORTS

The Property Rights Alliance (PRA, Washington DC), an old free market ally of Minimal Government Thinkers, granted me a modest funding to make a study on tobacco taxes and smuggling in the Philippines and it is due this week. The paper will have a 40-page Annex, newspaper reports about illicit cigarettes over the past four years. Table 2 is a summary of those reports and only reported combined values of P300 million and above were included here. 

The World Bank has estimated that global trade in illegal tobacco is already worth $40 billion to $50 billion a year.

LESSONS, CONCLUSIONS

The higher the taxes, the higher the tendency for criminal groups to go into tobacco smuggling and smokers are attracted to cheaper, untaxed illegal cigarettes. Laws that over-tax, even prohibit, legal tobacco will encourage and generate illegal tobacco.

In this situation, the losers are: a.) government finance department or ministry with lower than potential revenues, b.) legal tobacco companies with lower revenues, and, c.) consumers who are tempted to patronize cheaper but illegal cigarettes.

The winners are: a.) corrupt government officials who allow and protect smuggling in exchange for high monetary rewards, and, b.) criminal gangs and terrorist groups engaged in this and related activities. And overall corruption in government increases, not decreases.

If Congressman Joey Salceda’s estimate of P30 billion/year in illegal tobacco in the country is correct, then the reported estimate of P16 billion to P20 billion/year in foregone taxes is also correct. That is equivalent to the full year budget of the Departments of Trade or Foreign Affairs in 2020.

So, instead of introducing another round of tobacco taxes, Congress and the Executive should focus on strictly implementing the existing tax laws and plugging loopholes, like controlling the proliferation of smuggled illicit products. This will achieve three goals: a.) increasing government revenues, b.) decreasing corruption in government, and, c.) depriving funding for criminals and terrorist groups.

FDA RECEIVING FUNDING FROM PRIVATE LOBBY GROUPS

On a related note, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has been warned by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability for receiving money and perks from a US anti-tobacco group to draft policies regulating vaping in the country.

In earlier Committee hearings, an FDA official initially denied the agency’s receipt of foreign private money to fund the development of regulations for vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs). The agency eventually admitted to have solicited and received a grant from The Union, an anti-tobacco organization financed by the Bloomberg Initiative.

The Committee has adopted House Resolution 1396 that directed Congress to conduct an investigation on the FDA’s questionable acceptance of money from Bloomberg and donations from private local and international sources. See “House calls for tighter measures against foreign interference in local policy making” (Manila Bulletin, Aug. 22) and “FDA admits getting over $150,000 from anti-tobacco NGO to regulate vapes” (Manila Standard, March 17).

 

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the president of Minimal Government Thinkers. 
minimalgovernment@gmail.com
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See also:
BWorld 505, ADB’s kill coal plan, government corporations, and power transmission, September 17, 2021
BWorld 506, Vaccination plateau and rising cases, September 23, 2021 
BWorld 507, Energy prices, GDP projections, the ERC, and hydro development, October 10, 2021.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Weekend Fun 80, Political jokes for 2022 elections


I am reposting some jokes that I got from various group chats (GCs): 

DAANIN NA LANG PO NATIN SA SURVEY... Wag na Mag Away  "WHO IS YOUR PRESIDENT???"

Para po confidential ang inyong mga boto, gagamit po tau ng GCash as our platform:

1. Bato = send Php 100
2. Lacson = send Php 120 |
2. Manny = send Php 130
4. Isko = send Php 140
5. BBM = send Php 150
6. Leni = send Php 160

GCASH = 09760238074

Papayag ka bang madehado ang manok mo??? send na!!!

#Halalan2022

Kanya kanyang racket lang ha. Walang gagaya!
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Lucio Tan -- half Pinoy half Chinese
FVRamos -- half Pinoy half tobacco
Erap E -- half Pinoy half alcohol
Gloria A -- half lang
Duterte – half Pinoy, half fentanyl
H. Roque -- half Pinoy half Pinay
Bato Dela Rosa -- half Pinoy half pork.


Roque and Bato were lying under the Sun on a beach. When Greenpeace people passed by and saw them, they push the two back to the sea. Napagkamalan na… J

Meanwhile, some Pinoy humor:


Finally, some lockdown and vax jokes:



Covid 57, No Tricks Zone on vaccine mandates

Among my favorite climate and energy blogs is No Tricks Zone, https://notrickszone.com/, owned by Pierre Gosselin, an American living in Germany. Daily articles with lots of data about climate and energy alarmism but occasionally Pierre would post or get guest writers about the new fad in the world – vaccine mandates, implicit or explicit, thanks Pierre. I am reposting below some recent articles posted in his blog. Enjoy.
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(1) Bombshell Study: Vaccine Protection Against COVID Infection And Viral Load ‘Vanishes’ Within 6 Months 
By Kenneth Richard on 3. September 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/09/03/bombshell-study-vaccine-protection-against-covid-infection-and-viral-load-vanishes-within-6-months/

Reports of plummeting vaccine effectiveness against current COVID-19 variants are proliferating. A new study assesses the viral load and risk of infection with COVID-19 is the same for a fully vaccinated person as it is for an unvaccinated person within just 180 days after the second vaccine dose. In the study, 84% of those testing positive in an Israeli hospital system were fully vaccinated.

(2) Austria: 20% Hospitalized “Fully Vaccinated”. Germany: 3 In Nursing Home “Had To Be Resuscitated” After 3rd Jab 
By P Gosselin on 7. September 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/09/07/austria-20-hospitalized-fully-vaccinated-germany-3-in-nursing-home-had-to-be-resuscitated-after-3rd-jab/

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the vaccines against COVID are falling far short of what they were promised to be.

Oberhausen-Germany: “Three seniors had to be resuscitated” after 3rd jab.

(3) Corrupt WHO 
By P Gosselin on 8. September 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/09/08/corrupt-who/

New Documentary on WHO Exposes Widespread Corruption, Massive Funding by Bill Gates

“TrustWHO,” a documentary film produced by Lilian Franck, reveals the clandestine influences — including Bill Gates’s role as No. 1 funder — controlling the World Health Organization, to the peril of public health.

(4) Scientists: Boys Aged 12-15 Are Hospitalized Up To 23x More Due To COVID Vaccines Than Due To COVID 
By Kenneth Richard on 11. September 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/09/11/scientists-boys-aged-12-15-are-hospitalized-up-to-23x-more-due-to-covid-vaccines-than-due-to-covid/

A new study asserts “vaccine associated cardiac harms” to children resulting in 7-day hospital stays are 143% to 280% more common than the Center for Disease Control (CDC, US) has claimed.

The UK government has reported the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been associated with 314,700 adverse reactions (blindness, deafness, strokes, seizures, clotting, etc.) and 524 deaths thus far this year for those who live in England.

(5) 33 Holocaust Survivors/Descendants Defend COVID Vaccine Critic Prof. Bhakdi Against Anti-Semitism Smears 
By P Gosselin on 14. September 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/09/14/33-holocaust-survivors-decedents-defend-covid-vaccine-critic-prof-bhakdi-against-anti-semitism-smears/

Repulsive smear campaign by Big Media, German ARD public television.

Like Wikipedia, German flagship ARD public television has maliciously accused outspoken microbiologist Prof. Sucharit Bhakdi of “being an anti-Semite” in a smear campaign against the renowned researcher and COVID-19 vaccine critic.

(6) 1 Holocaust Survivor Included…”Death List” Of 250 Leading German Vaccine/Lockdown Critics, Dissidents Gets Circulated 
By P Gosselin on 25. September 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/09/25/1-holocaust-survivor-included-death-list-of-250-leading-german-vaccine-lockdown-critics-dissidents-gets-circulated/

Shocking threats in Germany…250 on a ‘death list’ are predominantly prominent German conservatives and libertarians, but also include Jews – among them one Holocaust survivor!

Origins appear to be “left-wing extremist circles”.

(7) Leading German Legal Scholar: Freedom In Exchange For Vaccination “Unconstitutional…Violates Fundamental Rights” 
By P Gosselin on 8. October 2021 
https://notrickszone.com/2021/10/08/leading-german-legal-scholar-freedom-in-exchange-for-vaccination-unconstitutional-violates-fundamental-rights/

Legal opinion: “Unconstitutionality of indirect COVID-19 vaccination requirements“.

Rules indirectly mandating vaccinations in exchange for freedom violates Germany’s Fundamental Constitutional Law, expert legal scholar Prof. Dr. Dietrich Murswiek writes in recently published 111-page legal opinion.
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See also:
Covid 54, Boycott and discriminate Joey Concepcion businesses, September 07, 2021 
Covid 55, Vax injuries, some testimonies and news reports, September 11, 2021 
Covid 56, Dr. Jody Dalmacion on vaccine development, breakthrough infections, herd immunity, September 19, 2021.

BWorld 507, Energy prices, GDP projections, the ERC, and hydro development

* My column in BusinessWorld, September 27, 2021. 

Among the big surprises this year has been the huge spike in global prices of fossil fuels as the favored renewables wind and solar continue to produce intermittent, unstable, even declining output.

These news headlines last week look like the papers are describing some Third World countries and not UK and Europe: “British Steel warns of up to 50-fold increase in power prices” (Financial Times, Sept. 21), “Energy price rises: Dozens of firms will be left to collapse” (The Times, Sept. 21), “‘Absolutely no question of lights going out’ this winter over hike in energy prices, cabinet minister says” (The Independent, Sept. 21), “Europe’s energy crisis: A switch back to coal is on the cards” (The National, Sept. 24), “Starved of Gas, European Electricity Producers Snap Up Coal” (Bloomberg, Sept. 25).

HUGE SPIKE IN FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY PRICES

I checked commodity prices as of the end of last week, Sept. 24. Aside from lithium — used mainly for batteries in cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles — and soda ash, the fossil fuels coal, natural gas, and propane have had very high rises in prices year to date (YTD) or from Jan. 1 to Sept. 24.

For a price index, despite the huge spike in EU’s carbon permits that are supposed to favor wind and solar energy and penalize fossil fuel energy, wind and solar are not attractive as they suffered price contractions (see Table 1). 


INDEFINITE LOCKDOWN, POWER DEMAND, AND GDP PROJECTION

The Philippines’ GDP size (at constant 2018 prices) in 2020 was P17.5 trillion, lower than 2019’s P19.38 trillion and 2018’s P18.2 trillion, and nearly touched 2017’s P17.3 trillion. That is the impact of government lockdown and -9.6% GDP contraction.

This year, the quarterly GDP performance were -3.9% in the first quarter (Q1), and 11.8% growth in Q2 mainly because of the very low base in Q2 of 2020.

I made my own projection for Q3 this year based on electricity demand which is sensitive or responsive to government lockdown policies. I included data on electricity prices like the customers’ Effective Spot Settlement Price (ESSP) and producers’ Load Weighted Average Price (LWAP).

From the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) data, power demand grew 6.6% in the first half of 2021, GDP growth over the same period was 7.9%, again due to very low base in Q2 last year. Power demand growth in Q3 decelerated to only 1% because of ECQ-MECQ in August and the equivalent “level 4” restrictions in September. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will officially release GDP figures for Q3 2021 in the first week of November, but from initial power data and also low base in Q3 2020, my estimate is 4%-5% growth in the next quarter.

ERC FAVORITISM OF NGCP MONOPOLY

Consider these three reports last week involving the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC):

“Power providers gave back almost P20 billion to consumers — ERC” (BusinessWorld, Sept. 23).

“P16-M fine imposed vs. 8 GenCos over violations; won’t be passed on to consumers” (PDI, Sept. 23).

“Stop Collection of Congestion Charges in Panay and Negros — ERC” (Energy Regulatory Commission press release, Sept. 22).

Decentralized distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives which have been technically demonopolized via retail competition and open access (RCOA) provision of the EPIRA law are penalized by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Decentralized, demonopolized and competitive power generation sector is also penalized by the ERC.

The national monopoly, zero competition National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), with many delays and unfinished work in transmission nationwide, is not penalized and is even shielded by the ERC.

Cute investigator ERC, that regularly harasses decentralized power generation and distribution sectors, should be investigated by Congress for its consistent shielding of the only remaining national monopoly in the country, the NGCP.

HYDRO POWER RECOVERY

The share of hydro power (big and run-of-river) to total power generation this year in the Luzon-Visayas grids has been rising due to the rainy season. From only 3.3% of the total last May, it went up to 4.4% in July and 7.7% in August.

The current double-dip La Niña that started around September 2020 is projected to continue until about April 2022, said US NCEP-CPC-NOAA projections as of Sept. 25. See also “La Niña: Globe Expected to Continue Cooling into Next Year, Extending Cooling Streak To 7 Years” (No Tricks Zone, Sept. 24, 2021).

Last weekend, my family visited Villa Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon. Its small dam or weir created a lake upstream for bamboo rafting/tourism and fishery, and a 70-kw hydroelectric plant. The weir was built in 1872 for irrigation. Fast forward today, it achieves four useful socio-economic goals with that single project — power generation, tourism, irrigation, and fishery.

The Departments of Energy and Tourism should jointly promote nationwide small but many dams or weirs of the Villa Escudero style. Our problem in the tropics is not lack of water but too much water, too much flooding during the rainy season. That excess water should be stored in many impounding lakes and rivers and, in the process, create more indigenous power generation, irrigation, eco-tourism, and fishery.
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See also:
BWorld 504, Budget 2022, borrowings, and OCTA, September 10, 2021 
BWorld 505, ADB’s kill coal plan, government corporations, and power transmission, September 17, 2021
BWorld 506, Vaccination plateau and rising cases, September 23, 2021.