Thursday, May 21, 2009

Money for Words

Edited: Horrified, my wife screamed at me to edit some of the "controversial stuff" I posted, and looking back to what I've written, even I can say I was way too open with certain confidential items. So here's the edited version.

You probably heard it on the news, the radio or followed a link or two about the The Great Book Blockade. To sum it all up, our beloved government, seeing that they needed more income to upgrade their Large Starbucks Cappucino to Venti proportions during siesta time, have come up with a way to do this: by taxing foreign books. Yup, you heard me, reading suddenly have gotten a little more expensive.

It started with Twilight (yeah, sorry Twilight fans, but the series continues to wreak havoc upon mankind) coming in from the United States. A customs official, seeing the very large number of literature (I cringe to consider it Lit, but whatever. Sorry) coming in, decided to make an extra buck and ask the importer for tariff duties. Surprised, the importer didn't know there was a tariff involved, and paid the said duties and hurried off (possibly he didn't want to be seen in company with the books). That opened a big can of worms. Suddenly, every customs official began targeting foreign books and demanding tariff for them.

Here's the hulabaloo: The Florence Agreement, a UN Treaty in 1952, guarantees the free flow of educational, scientific, and cultural materials between countries and declaring all imported books should be duty free, with Philippines signature on it. A customs official declared that, after reading the agreement, only educational books should be exempt from duties. A reporter bellowed "You mean, everyone else in the last 50 years misinterpreted the agreement and you alone interpreted it correctly?!"

"Yes", the official said to the stunned media persons.

Well, if that doesn't get your blood boiling, what will? C'mon man, I know you gotta feed your ten children and you're still building your second mansion on a five acre lot, but applying duties from books?! Does the Customs Department plan to overthrow the Taliban in the most hideous group category? They're right on par with the Death Cults, the German SS and the Backstreet Boys, and this might just make them reach the top.

Right now though, we won't still feel it until after three months, when old stocks will run out. Soon, Archie Comics that costs P250 will probably be P1000, and if that's the case, I shudder to think of the graphic novel prices.

State of Mind: Passionate Rage
Song of the Day: I'll Follow You in the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
Book of the Week: Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn
Want/Need: A Wrecking Ball through Customs Building

3 Comments:

Blogger Skron said...

Back in high school, when Starter Baseball Caps was a fad, I had this schoolmate who have a new cap everyday. Everyday, man, everyday. Then I found out his dad had a big desk on the customs.

About the Book Tax. The sucks man. It sounds to me like they're pulling a Farenheit 451.

10:17 AM, May 22, 2009  
Blogger Big Hamster said...

In my years working in the company, I could tell you dozens of blood curling and hair raising stories in the Customs Department. And I'm not surprised about your friend. I know someone who collected every color of the orginal LaCoste Tshirt...in a month's time. Go figure.

Yup, on the book tax, if you're an avid collector of comic books, graphic novels and specialty reads, this is a bad year for us if this doesn't resolve on our favor.

12:39 PM, May 22, 2009  
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8:50 PM, June 17, 2010  

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