Re: ''Govt raises taxes on alcohol, cigarettes'' (BP, Aug 22).
I welcome this new taxation by the government and hope authorities extend this policy against tobacco products and alcohol.
Nobody can prove that smoking tobacco brings any benefit to human lives and society. A target year for a complete ban on smoking should be set. Until then, prohibitively higher tax hikes should be implemented year by year. Such a measure would gradually destroy business and employment related to tobacco products until a complete ban is in place.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is part of traditional culture and one of the big enjoyments of life. Present alcohol control laws are not effective because people don't have the conscience and morals to obey them. Instead, new legislation should increase punishments without bail for wrongdoings under the influence of alcohol, from traffic violations to murder cases. This measure will deter drinkers from drinking too much.
Billboards are so ugly
Re: ''City Hall lax on billboards'' (Postbag, Aug 21).
Hurrah to Josephus for his scary comments about Bangkok billboards. I still recall returning to Bangkok after several years away and the hideous shock of being bombarded on every highway with ugly billboards. Does someone have to die as a result of neglect before notice is taken?
Many visitors on arrival have remarked: ''What's with the ugly billboards? We banned those years ago.'' I can only reply that businesses have probably discovered a way of spreading tea money without responsibility.
Before I left Washington state 25 years ago, its citizens became so incensed that highway billboards were blighting the beautiful scenery that all of them were banned after a push to boycott the companies responsible. They are gone now.
But here in Thailand the ugly things get larger and larger and now spread down the highways, with hardly a hill or beautiful wat visible for want of one.
Who has the nerve any longer to say ''beautiful Thailand''?
Rice policy off target
Re: ''Rice pledging scheme grilled'' (Business, Aug 20).
Commerce permanent secretary Yanyong Phuangrach defends the government's rice pledging scheme, but his analysis is fatally flawed and should be corrected before drawing any conclusions.
He gives the government credit for global prices of Thai rice going up, but droughts this year in the United States and India have severely affected those two countries' rice output, and both are major rice exporters. Given that prices for Thai 5% white rice have risen by only 11% from last year, the drought alone would have accounted for much of the rise.
Presumably the government wants to aid the poorer farmers, not those who are already wealthy. Thus, we should measure the extent to which incomes of low-income farm families rose, not the income of any farmer, regardless of financial standing. But since the government deliberately put no cap on the payout any farmer can receive, it's very likely that the rich have become massively richer simply because they had larger plots.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra now has 11.37 million tonnes of rice that she is unwilling to sell at market prices. What is the cost of storage, including spoilage? The US Department of Agriculture forecasts that for the first time in decades Thailand will no longer be the world's largest rice exporter, while rice exports over the first half of 2012 are down by 45% from the same period last year, with export values dropping by 35%.
Instead of superficial, unsustainable fixes like the rice scheme, PM Yingluck would be far more worthy of praise if she focused on long-term, sustainable solutions. For example, our rice productivity badly trails anybody worth mentioning; we are now 21st in the world behind the likes of Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, India and Myanmar. Boosting productivity by even 10% a year would be a real achievement that would truly help the poor who support her and her brother come hell or high water.
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