By Digoy Fernandez FIRST of all, we must make one thing clear. We support and believe in the right of the state of impose just taxes that are to be used for the maintenance and development of a country and its people. Unfortunately, this principle works well in theory only in a few cases. Because of very poor tax administration(i.e., the inability or unwillingness of our revenue collectors to properly enforce tax regulations) the government finance team is often pressed to make up for deficits that crop up because of the larger amount of expenditures over receipts. So, what does the typical government bureaucrat do when tasked with thinking about ways to bridge the gap between expenses and revenues? The knee-jerk response would be to simply impose a new slew of taxes, the more the better. Perish the thought that revenue agents should soil their hands with attempts to impose a more efficient regime to tax collection or administration on existing taxes! And yet, our country’s multilateral and bilateral creditors and donors have long said that our revenue people have to tighten the ship and undertake a more efficient collection machinery. What seems to be the problem, then, in simply enforcing better tax and revenue collections? It is an open secret that the two or three main revenue generation agencies are plum posts sought by those seeking to increase their respective net worths. I recall an instance when a supporter of Ka Jaime Ferrer visited the old man when I happened to be in his residence. When Ka Jaime asked the man what he wanted, he simply requested that he be given a position in either Customs or the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Ka Jaime--a paragon for honesty in government--shouted at the hapless man: “What? I will assign you there just so you can steal or make money illegally? No!!!” This is why the onerous book tax contemplated by the brain-dead Espele Sales of the Finance department was pounced upon by book lovers and right thinking people both here and abroad. First of all, it was a clear violation of an international convention, and no amount of stretching of semantics could or would justify such a stupid tax, all to raise a few bucks for the government. Unfortunately for Ms Sales, just when the campaign against her and her tax scheme was escalating, the two Davids (Cook and Archuleta) visited the country. Their arrival, stay, and performances here resulted in the Philippines coming up in the top ten places being followed in Twitter. Well, to make a long story short, local cyberspace mavens twittered Espele Sales and her ill-contrived tax scheme resulting in a rapidly mushrooming viral anti-Sales/anti-tax campaign that was likely to drag President into the more negative aspects of the fray. Whatever her motivations, she most likely saw the light and rescinded the stupid book tax. End of problem. Once again, people in government were put on notice that they cannot assume a “business as usual” with respect to their shenanigans, because all it takes is a small band of intrepid cyberspace jockeys to put out the dirty laundry of these malefactors for all to see…and get very angry at.
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HAVING graduated from grade school in 1962, high school in 1966, and college in 1971 (all from La Salle-Taft) plus two years in graduate school (AIM in 1973), I have come to realize that my compatriots and I are part of the leading edge in the Boomer generation. Since the Boomer generation embraces those born after the great War (WWII) up until the hated war (Vietnam in the 60s), my bunch is pretty much in our early 60s and feeling the heavy hand of gravity–--falling hair and drooping stomachs on our physiques. In addition, we now have to contend with more senior moments as we tend to be more forgetful in both big and little things. My La Salle classmates continue to whoop it up every quarter or so with a class party featuring the music of the 60s and 70s. Fortunately, we have sort of an in-house band composed of many who played the music of the 60s back then, the GGBB. What does that name mean? Anything from Great Green Boogie Band to "Gago Gago Bobo Band," depending on how many bottles of wine find their way into my classmates’ constitutions. The GGBB has played in many revival concerts and its leaders are part of the online group Pinoy Classic Rockers, a group that promotes the musical genre of our generation. As a result, we have had very nice class parties with wives and lady friends from our generation who share a common love for the music and light company akin to what we used to have in our erstwhile jam sessions way back when. The other evening, My AIM classmates met--once again--in the penthouse residence of Mon Abad and Lenny de Jesus. A common love for music has resulted in many talented and accomplished artists finding their way into the equivalent of a musical atelier, one that has seen classical artists, chorales and choirs, and yes, the inevitable classic rock groups gather to entertain or to jam. The evening in question found Lenny’s prize group, the Electromaniacs, playing back up to wannabe singers from my class as they waded through a collection of Beatles songs and even a credible incarnation of a Credence Clearwater Revival piece. Many in my class who idolized the Electromaniacs for their incredibly complex and accomplished music during the 60s were struck by the irony of having one of the greatest music icons providing back up for our motley bunch of, singers. How lucky could we get? Finding solace and comfort in something like the music of our generation is not limited to a few groups alone, as we find more and more Boomers letting what is left of their hair down in order to play both the instrumental and vocal hits of our time. Lenny finds pleasure in supporting musical causes and musicians through activities like the Electromaniacs concert that saw the launch of their revival CD, the proceeds of which had been earmarked for a music foundation. That same evening, we were talking about the different perspectives of the Pacquiao fight and also the man himself. We whipped out a sample computation of what we thought would be the net earnings of Manny after at least two more good fights--assuming he wins both and gets the guaranteed amounts and share of PPV for TV--and came up with a net amount of only about P2 billion. This is less local and US taxes, managers’ and promoters’ shares, trainer’s share, and so forth, leaving only about 35% of the gross as his take home. We figured that his earnings from endorsements and other activities would be needed just to maintain his lifestyle and the upkeep of the barangay of followers who hold court with him wherever he goes. But we came to one inevitable conclusion: Manny P may have enough to run for Congress but not enough for a stab at the Presidency. So, whoever is thinking of making him run and hold on to his fame, would also have to be excellent fundraisers. Furthermore, he is not guaranteed a win because he has possible determined opponents who will not give up their seats without a fight. Some of us who are in Facebook elicited interest from those who are not. I think that enough was learned by some classmates present to get them to try this social networking medium. And this is the surprising thing about networking sites like Facebook. Among the largest increases in users now being recorded by Facebook belong to the Boomer generation. At first, many moms and dads opened Facebook accounts in order to keep track of their kids. But after finding many fellow Boomers signed up, their average usage goes up dramatically from about 30 minutes per day to an hour or two, especially since many in our generation have more time for themselves now. It is indeed rewarding to be able to hook up with old friends not seen since graduation. Internet marketing mavens have taken note of this increased usage by Boomers and have began to target them through the various media available on the web. To find out how this can be done, you may have to attend the new course offered at AIM that my son Jayvee will be handling (see my last post on the new media and how it can be harnessed for marketing and business purposes). During these, our sunset years, it is pleasant to be able to get together with old friends to talk about nothing significant in particular, and just enjoy each other’s company with the music of the 60s playing in the background.