Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Denmark Tekan Mr and Mrs Ah Pui

 Denmark, famous for the 2005 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad Cartoons controversy and re-igniting Islamophobia and jihad-crazies globally, and also, Lego! Yes, that expensive but damn fun educational toy we played as kids for those lucky enough to have stolen them Emporium, Yaohan, Sogo, Seiyu (depending on how old you are) or got them as gifts. Now Denmark is again world leader in the fat tax! Yes, Denmark is going all out to tekan people who want to buy ice cream, butter and all the fatty tasty bits of modern makan. The top guys in Andersen's of Denmark are probably really pissed about this subtle discrimination fat Danes.

WTF! WTF? The tax is 16 kroner (S$3.75) per kg of saturated fat. The objective of the tax is to make Danes healthy and live longer by making them make healthy food choices. Not really happy if they are foodies, but healthier especially when the Danish government tax salt consumption next for sure if they think they can get away with the fat tax. Why is the outgoing right-wing Danish government being so intrusive, bordering on curtailing the freedom of its citizens. Frankly, apart from right wing as a reason by itself, for a country that prides its human rights and democracy, that fat tax is really a deal-breaker. Screw the individual to support the state. 

Well, for one, the Danes are already used to pay ridiculously high tax to sustain their free healthcare, education and other privileges of a welfare state. No free lunch especially if you are a Viking and it is all about trade-offs.

Average income tax (income, labour market, pension components) are 44.4% (what a great number in Cantonese - die die, die!) and VAT, a consumption and therefore a regressive tax, is 25%. Hence, it totally makes sense from their government struggling to deal with an aging population and an inverted population pyramid to tax, tax and tax. The state does not want to pay for the healthcare of the indulgences of those who want to pig out.

Is the fat tax that oppressive in cramping individual freedom to do with what they want with their bodies and life? Depends whether you equate a fat tax with booze and ciggy taxes. Ciggy and booze are accepted as vices, and the Danes have entered new philosophical territory by announcing that saturated fat consumption is also a social vice. However, the incoming Social Democrat, Social Liberal and Socialist People's Party coalition might just throw out the fat tax as the first populist gesture from the centre-left government.

What's has this got to do with Singapore? That other countries also have ridiculous laws in the name of public good. And don't get me started on child seat belt laws in California.

"I am being singled out and discriminated coz I eat junk food.", says Dane Ah Pui

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