April 23, 2018, 12:30 am
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Railroaded by a runaway TRAIN

While many in the communications profession would like to think of their field as a science where certain rules are followed, developed from hypotheses and postulates, tested and retested until theories turn into laws, and the scientific method is completed, its results uniformly verifiable each time, the academe still maintains communications as an art. 

It is perhaps because communications cannot be exact and definitive. It is nourished by diversity where conflicting interpretations are integral to its nature. Different points of view and the fluidity of both the messages communicated and the reception of those are largely as mosaic as a patchwork collage. No one hears music in exactly the same way. The same with viewing an artwork.

Art and communications are subjective, while sciences are objective. Art expresses knowledge. Science deals with the acquisition of knowledge.

Take the acronym “TRAIN” for example. Spun by our financial managers to communicate a desired message, TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, was coined by slick political hucksters to peddle a positive message that included the concepts of acceleration and economic inclusion. 

The messaging was purposely set to cast taxes in a positive light and differentiate this government’s current economic initiatives from the previous administration’s where, despite ballyhooed GDP growth, economic inclusion was denied the greater public.

Inclusivity as evoked by the initial “I” among TRAIN’s letters simply means that the greater public, across classes, are included as GDP grows. 

The measures of inclusivity would thus be the narrowing of the gap between the rich and the poor evidenced by the lowering of the Gini Coefficient. Inclusivity indices would also include the improvement in the jobs data where unemployment falls, new jobs are created, and the exodus of Filipino workers are reversed. 

Measures likewise include improvements in the poverty incidences, the hunger and misery indices and the inflation rate.

What we have been victimized with during the last administration is exclusive economic development where the GDP growth gains did not trickle down as fast to the sectors that needed these the most. Development and the economic benefits were thus “exclusive” and limited to the few who ironically needed those benefits to lesser degrees than the greater number continually victimized by inequities.

To validate the exclusivity of our GDP growth simply analyze how the Gini Coefficient had hardly changed, employment or the creation of new and appropriate jobs had virtually petrified, the hunger index and the self-rated poverty indices either worsening or staying virtually unchanged.

 As for the messaging that the government is attempting to communicate with the word “acceleration” and the letter “A” in TRAIN in reference to GDP growth, together with “inclusivity” in reference to economic equity, both can only enter a thoughtful mind when TRAIN’s letters are spelled out.

There lies its weakness as a communications devise. 

In fact, the word “train” by itself conjures an altogether different imagery.

Without spelling out each letter the immediate and unadulterated imagery conjured by the term TRAIN provides a deeper and more accurate insight into what it actually is that our honorable lawmakers might be thrusting up our collective posteriors.

The word “train” conjures images of a high-speed locomotive barreling down railway tracks. Not only does the image conjure of an unstoppable iron and steel behemoth such as a runaway freight train but that this rampaging “Iron Horse” will demolish anything in its path.

Following such imagery allow us to simply list what is being railroaded that are antithetical to accelerated GDP growth and equitable economic inclusivity as originally spun to market and make palatable added tax impositions.

Note that the only substantial tax reform measure in TRAIN is the expansion of the un-taxed income bracket where the lowest wage earners are effectively granted greater relief while higher tax payers pay more. The popular gains in this area are however quickly and effectively negated by substantive increases throughout all critical value chains as the excise taxes on cost-multiplier petroleum products are increased, and documentary stamp taxes and even taxes on passive income sources are bloated several times over. The latter are significant. These unnecessarily inflate debt servicing costs as well as costs on returns on investments.

On the existing repressive value added tax system (VAT), TRAIN ensures that we will remain victimized with one of the highest VAT impositions in the region.

On corporate taxes, the promised downscaling from 30 percent is not covered by TRAIN. We will still have the highest corporate taxes thus validating the fears of foreign investors who would rather reroute their foreign direct investments elsewhere.

Like communications, deception is also an art. While TRAIN is a catchy buzzword, what in effect are being railroaded are a series of expanded and debilitating tax measures simply packaged with a nice-sounding acronym.
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