Month: October 2021

Consumer Choice Center Joins Coalition Calling on the Biden Administration’s WHO Delegation to Recognise the Value of Tobacco Harm Reduction

Dear President Biden:

In January, the White House issued a “Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking,” in which you state “[i]t is the policy of my Administration to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data,” as opposed to personal ideology. The undersigned commend this declaration and write to ensure that this science-driven decision-making extends to all areas of policymaking, even politically challenging matters such as tobacco and nicotine containing products.

Next month, a U.S. delegation will participate in the Ninth Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), commonly known as COP9. The U.S. is a signatory to the FCTC, but has never ratified the treaty, and therefore participates under Observer Status. Traditionally, the Conference of the Parties convenes every two years to discuss issues related to the implementation of the treaty and to promote strategies that allegedly advance tobacco control strategies.

Based on its own data, the WHO estimates there will be approximately 1.4 billion cigarette smokers around the world in 2025. This statistic is further illustrated by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that less than one in 10 cigarette smokers will successfully quit smoking each year. Notwithstanding these sobering numbers, the WHO continues to rebuff innovative, science-driven advancements in nicotine delivery that could expedite its goal of eradicating cigarette smoking.

U.S. leadership is needed at the WHO now more than ever, and this includes oversight of its tobacco control strategies. Although the FCTC recognizes three pillars of tobacco control – prevention, cessation, and harm reduction – it has done nothing to recognize the technological innovation or promote policies that advance scientifically substantiated less harmful alternatives. In contrast, the comprehensive U.S. approach to tobacco control, rooted in the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, and signed into law by President Obama, authorized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop pathways to bring less harmful noncombustible products to the market for adult consumers that will otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes. While not a perfect process, the FDA has demonstrated the viability of these processes and that adult smokers deserve information about and access to less harmful products. In short, by authorizing some novel products, the FDA has affirmed its commitment to harm reduction and based these determinations on sound science as opposed to political ideology.

Society has adopted harm reduction in various aspects of our everyday lives, particularly as it relates to public health. However, there is a strong hesitancy with the WHO to accept harm reduction for tobacco, favoring instead to pursue “quit or die” policies that maintain the status quo and keep people using cigarettes.

As stated in the January memorandum, policies should be based on sound science, not autocratic regimes, personal ideology, or politics. We respectfully encourage the U.S. delegation participating in COP9 to advocate tobacco harm reduction – as clearly stated in the FCTC – as a vital component of any tobacco control strategy. This position aligns with U.S. law, FDA’s comprehensive approach, and basic common sense. Anything less is bowing to undue political pressure and fails to serve the hundreds of millions of adult smokers around the world that deserve access to better choices beyond cigarettes.


Lindsey Stroud
Director, Consumer Center
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Steve Pociask
President / CEO
American Consumer Institute

Gregory Conley
American Vaping Association

Amanda Wheeler
American Vapor Manufacturers Association

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Dave Morris
Arizona Smoke-Free Business Alliance

Peter J. Pitts
Center for Medicine in the Public Interest
Former FDA Associate Commissioner

Thomas Schatz
Citizens Against Government Waste

Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center

Elizabeth Hicks
U.S. Affairs Analyst
Consumer Choice Center

Nick Orlando
Florida Smoke Free Association (FSFA)

Susan Stutzman
Georgia Vape Alliance (GVA)

Eric Curtis
Michigan Vape Shop Owners (MVSO)

Kim “Skip” Murray
Tobacco Harm Reduction Specialist MN Smoke-Free Alliance
Co-Founder, Safer Nicotine Wiki

Brandon Arnold
Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

James Jarvis
Ohio Vapor Trade Association (OHVTA)

Mazen Saleh
Policy Director, Integrated Harm Reduction
R Street Institute

Tim Teml
Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois (SFACOIL)

Casey Given
Executive Director
Young Voices

Why Democratic Control of the FCC Won’t Bode Well for Internet Freedom

By Yaël Ossowski

Late Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden revealed his nominations to the Federal Communications Commission.

As one would expect, his two nominations — Jessica Rosenworcel and Gigi Sohn — come from Democratic circles and have upheld progressive priorities for telecom policies.

Rosenworcel has been a commissioner since 2012 and served as acting chair since Ajit Pai left at the beginning of Biden’s term. She would be the first female chair of the FCC.

Sohn has been active in left-leaning nonprofits, but also worked as a counselor to former FCC chair Tom Wheeler. She has made a career in advocacy, government, and academia championing “open, affordable, and democratic communications networks,” according to the White House release.

What both nominees represent, if confirmed by the Senate, would be a return to a Democratic-majority FCC intent on revitalizing 2015-era “net neutrality” proposals. Activists are already celebrating a return to progressive policymaking at the nation’s telecom regulator.

While Biden’s nominations are no surprise — every president generally nominates commissioners from their own party — consumer advocates should be worried about the policy goals they will seek to pass.

Net Neutrality

The most pressing would be a reform of Title II regulations through “net neutrality”, effectively labeling Internet Service Providers as public utilities, essentially as protected monopolies.

As I wrote in the Washington Examiner in 2017, the basic premise of net neutrality reforms is to regulate ISPs like water suppliers or telephone companies, subjecting them to more active enforcement, standards, and regulations set by the FCC, so that all online traffic be considered “neutral and free from prioritization”.

What’s more, a Title II classification would treat ISPs are monopolies, which even by the most strained definition, cannot be true. There are close to 3,000 ISPs in the United States, all serving different populations and regions, though some players have larger coverage than others.

Sweeping these companies into the regulatory lens of the FCC under the auspices of public utilities would mean more restrictions and regulations on content and delivery of content on the Internet — a far cry from Internet freedom.

As a general principle for an open net, net neutrality is an important one. When internet providers have been accused of unfairly blocking or throttling consumers, they have rightfully been challenged by lawsuits and enforcement actions from the Federal Trade Commission. And we should generally want a system that won’t discriminate against Internet users based on the content they host or provide (we can also thank Section 230 for liability protections for online platforms).

However, since these regulations were proposed in 2014 under the Obama administration, there has never been a clear rationale provided as to why Internet companies should be regulated under the FCC rather than the FTC, as is the status quo. And from what we can tell, that change would likely impact consumers more than anyone.

For one, a public utility classification would mean much far-reaching power of centralized Internet regulation than exists currently, putting the innovative nature of the Internet at risk.

Providers would be tasked with significant regulatory compliance that would necessitate more administrative costs and fees. This would also threaten the expansion of start-ups and independent companies in the digital space, souring the efforts at creative entrepreneurship. All would be harmful to consumers.

With every successive administration in Washington, we can only imagine that enforcement of the rules and changing of the rules would be enough to create regulatory uncertainty for thousands of online businesses and the users who depend on them.

Second, as our experience from the history of public utilities demonstrates, there would likely be intense consolidation that would empower large companies with the means to comply with regulations and stunt innovative new start-ups. It would also disincentivize increased private investment in broadband services, as we have written about at the Consumer Choice Center, and exacerbate the effects of Biden’s infrastructure proposal on public broadband if it passes this fall.

While consolidation of ISPs is a grave concern to progressive Internet activists, this would only be made worse once a giant bureaucracy such as the FCC is given regulatory authority over them. As my colleague Elizabeth Hicks noted in the Detroit Times, often it is state and local regulations that impede greater competition among ISPs, not because of lax authority at the federal level.

Online Privacy

Both Rosenworcel and Sohn have also indicated that they would support a proposal for greater Internet privacy enforced by the FCC. While that would be great on principle, we would hope that a federal plan would punish bad actors and establish clear guidelines to ensure transparency and protect innovation, as we proposed in our data and consumer privacy policy note.

However, Sohn’s previous public statements, including when she was a fellow at the Open Society Foundation, demonstrate she’d want a wholesale restriction on the sharing of data, even among willing consumers and providers. That would put many vital services at risk.

What’s more, such a proposal would likely aim to further empower government enforcement on data privacy rather than embrace market innovations that already do just that.


Another significant area where a Democratic-majority FCC could seek action would be on the pricing of Internet services. Sohn has been quite vocal about fixing ISP prices and regulating the bundling of various services. This would undermine the competitive environment of ISPs and likely lead to lower quality and rationed services for users, degrading everyone’s Internet experience.

Sohn’s history at various nonprofit groups that have targeted and lobbied the FCC for more enforcement was indeed impactful, and it is not difficult to see how much of the outrage about net neutrality was due to these efforts. Unfortunately, this also coincided with serious death threats and security concerns for commissioners opposed to these plans.

If both nominees to the FCC are confirmed, it is clear that the battle for the open Internet will once again be relitigated. And if the past proposal is any indication, it will face significant opposition.

At the time of the original net neutrality rules, even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, seen as one of the most powerful Internet freedom groups, was skeptical about how far-reaching the net neutrality provisions were.

We can only imagine that now, buoyed by progressive victories on Capitol Hill and louder voices for regulating content and platforms on the Internet, these proposals will prove harmful to the interests of online users and consumers.

Yaël Ossowski is the deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

Simplify insurance for better health care

It is an unfortunate fact that most everyone has a health care insurance horror story.

In our overly complex and convoluted health care system, even routine checkups and minor appointments sometimes snowball into bureaucratic exercises of patience and will. While we thought health insurance would solve these issues, for some it has been made worse.

Whether at the primary care doctor, the dentist or the eye doctor, our reliance on insurance means that a simple transaction between patient and provider can often become complicated. For those without stellar plans, they must pay for care, then submit a claim to the insurer, negotiate the costs, wait for reimbursement and forward that payment to the provider. And that’s assuming the insurance company accepts the claim.

And while reform has been attempted at all levels of government, however well-intended, these have often served to further complicate the issues that come with being a patient in the American health care system, all the while giving more power to insurers.

At least one measure of progress can be found in a bill being pushed through the Pennsylvania Senate that would radically simplify the insurance process for dental patients.

State Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and others have introduced a bill, SB850, that would enact what is known as assignment of benefits reform, requiring insurers to follow enrolled patients’ requests that the insurer directly pay a patient’s health care provider. There would be no additional forms, no additional waiting, and it would simplify the process so that patients could focus on getting what they need, rather than chasing an insurance claim.

This sounds intuitive, but at present, many dental insurance reimbursements must be vetted by the insurance company and then routed to the patients to pay their dentists. Not to mention any clauses found in insurance contracts that add additional steps.

If we were to simplify this process and empower patients, it would do wonders to improve care in this state — and perhaps free up at least one part of our health care system.

Critics of these reforms say they would put pressure on insurers, who would need to simplify and quickly pay health practitioners when patients tell them.

But conceding that point would mean allowing health insurers — who already have a dominant role in the health care industry — to complicate the process of reimbursing patients and providers with burdensome clauses and exemptions in their contracts.

After the Affordable Care Act and several Medicare reforms, assignment of benefits is a standard practice in general health care but so far does not exist across all medical categories. Passing this bill and getting it to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk would be a strong measure of support for consumers and patients.

Of course, this level of legislation is far from the the large-scale reform needed. An eventual decoupling of insurance from dental and primary care for a more direct-to-consumer model altogether would be a radical way to improve our system, but this bill is a step in the right direction.

These laws have already been passed in states such as South Dakota, Colorado and West Virginia and are trending across the country, but more will be needed.

Indeed, there are plenty of easy reforms state legislatures could enact that would help improve care: fostering innovation, reducing bureaucracy, giving incentives to patients to use direct-to-consumer options and more.

Tax-saving accounts for education have been widely successful, and we could do more with health savings accounts even at a state level. Here, there is a role for government.

If we can continue to promote competition and transparency to provide better care, then patients and consumers will benefit. There are many patients and consumers with great plans that serve their needs. Nevertheless, there are still millions of Americans who want a better process.

Let us hope the Legislature understands this key point and helps make our health care easier, more affordable and pain-free.

Originally published here

Not all PFAS are the same, and why this matters for future regulation

On 17 October, a stakeholder consultation led by the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on the use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) closed. By 2022, the European Chemicals Agency is expected to submit its restriction proposal for the use of PFAS in firefighting foams and other products. Combined with pressure from green groups calling for complete avoidance of these chemicals, the European Union is on the brink of a very costly and unfeasible policy move: a complete PFAS ban.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that can be found in a variety of consumer products. Some popular uses include medical equipment, food packaging, and firefighting foam. In the case of medical equipment, for example, these chemical compounds are vital for contamination-resistant gowns and drapes, implantable medical devices, stent grafts, heart patches, sterile container filters, needle retrieval systems, tracheostomies, catheter guide wire for laparoscopy, and inhaler canister coatings.

However, that is not to say that all of these chemicals are safe. When improperly dumped into the water supply, or when the exposure exceeds specific threshold levels, they do pose a danger. These concerns are justified and shouldn’t be understated or misrepresented. At the same time, they shouldn’t direct our attention away from the benefits of PFAS in certain production processes.

Because of their chemical resistance and surface tension lowering properties, PFAS are hard and expensive to replace. A complete ban would put the production of these vital consumer items in jeopardy and patient safety at risk. Declaring all PFAS hazardous without first considering risks associated with each use, and considering the feasibility and safety of alternatives, is a dangerous policy path.

In the United States, calls for a complete ban are also dominating the discourse. The PFAS Action Act, which is currently under review in the Senate, fails to consider that all these chemicals carry different risks depending on their use and exposure levels. The European Union’s approach aims to achieve similar outcomes. The idea is to divide PFAS into two groups: essential and non-essential. However, eventually, all are sought to be phased out.

Both strategies turn a blind eye to the uncomfortable evidence-based truth about these chemicals. PFAS have already been largely phased out from being used where they are not necessary. A  2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry  says that “Industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.”

A complete ban on PFAS being used also doesn’t necessarily mean that these man-made chemicals will cease to be produced or sold. The unintended consequence of extremely restrictive policies is a spike in production elsewhere. Bans in the EU and US will likely result in China ramping up their production. And given how necessary PFAS can be for both medical equipment, and consumer goods, an EU or US ban would be simply shifting production to countries who largely fail to meet general standards for environmental stewardship.

It is crucial that while assessing PFAS, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic do not fall prey to calls for complete avoidance. PFAS are diverse and while some of them might need to be restricted or banned, others are crucial and necessary, as in the case of medical equipment. One size doesn’t fit all, and the necessary uses of PFAS, especially when they don’t pose a risk to human health, shouldn’t be left out of the discourse.

Originally published here

No reason to toast federal tax on non-alcoholic beer

Across the board, we should expect better from Ottawa, and the tax on non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of where they’ve gotten it wrong.

Sin-taxes, across all sectors, are fairly excessive in Canada. At almost every turn the government sinks its tax teeth into the process of you purchasing the products you like. This is true for cannabis products, alcohol, tobacco, vaping, gas, and annoyingly so, non-alcoholic beer. Yes, non-alcoholic beer in Canada is not exempt from federal excise taxes.

You read that right. The federal government also extends its sin-tax regime for non-alcoholic beer, at a rate of $2.82/hectolitre.

The application of excise taxes for non-alcoholic beer is problematic for a variety of reasons. The first, and most glaring, is that it is hypocritical given that the federal government has exempted non-alcoholic wine and spirits from the excise tax. Why apply it for beer, but not wine and spirits? Obviously, a more consistent approach would be to simply exempt all non-alcoholic beverages from the excise tax, because the purpose of the sin tax is to recover alcohol-related healthcare costs. That said, there are no alcohol-related healthcare costs at all from non-alcoholic beer, which immediately shows the lunacy of sin-taxing these products.

In addition to correcting hypocrisy, removing the excise tax for non-alcoholic beer would put federal policy in line with how the provinces treat these products. Provincial regulators, including Alberta, don’t require non-alcoholic beverages to be sold at licensed alcohol retail outlets, because they’ve accepted the obvious that these products don’t have alcohol in them and thus shouldn’t be strictly regulated. That is why in Alberta these products are often sold alongside carbonated water and pop. Removing the excise tax would be the federal government following the lead of the provinces in treating non-alcoholic beer differently than beer, because they are in fact different.

On the industry side, the federal excise tax acts as a barrier for product development in Canada, mostly because other beer producing jurisdictions (US,EU,UK) don’t tax non-alcoholic beer. Because of this the domestic industry in those jurisdictions has flourished, offering consumers more choice and at better prices. Their sane tax policy, coupled with increased consumer demand, is in large part why the non-alcoholic beer market is expected to grow to over $4 billion by 2025. These drinks aren’t just for hipsters, designated drivers and pregnant women anymore.

Lastly, and most importantly, is how non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of new products reducing harm for consumers. And while I don’t personally enjoy these drinks, I can see why someone would still want to enjoy a beer with their friends, or at a bar, without the alcohol that comes along with it.

From a harm reduction perspective, it makes perfect sense to have different tax strategies for products that vary in risk. The Trudeau government, at times, has championed harm reduction for illegal drugs but appears to have a blind spot when it comes to legal substances. This is an uncomfortable trend from Ottawa that is perfectly exemplified by the excise tax on non-alcoholic beer. Ottawa has kept the excise tax system for non-smokable THC cannabis products, like edibles and beverages, despite the fact they are significantly less harmful. They’ve sought to ban vape flavours, despite the fact that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, and flavours are an incredibly useful tool for adult smokers trying to quit.

Across the board, we should expect better from Ottawa, and the tax on non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of where they’ve gotten it wrong. Hopefully, come Budget 2022, they can correct this mistake and remove the excise tax from these products entirely.

Originally published here

The EU and the U.S. Need a Common Digital Market Strategy to Counter China

The past few weeks have been hardly an easy time for Facebook.Frances Haugen’s leak, combined with a six-hour blackout last week, has reinforced some politicians’ desire to further regulateFacebook, or even completely break it up, as proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, while the EU and U.S. are thinking long and hard about their next move against big tech, China has been taking over our digital space in the West slowly but consistently.

Following a report by an anonymous researcher, Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance company, is now facing scrutiny over a privacy breach in Europe. The high-tech cameras produced by Hikvision have been found to be vulnerable and carry risk of malicious code insertion or cyberattacks.

In the U.S., Hikvision was put on the sanctions list under President Trump in 2019. China’s appetite for data is hardly news, and as Europe is finally starting to open its eyes to its scope, it’s time for a shared action. To counteract growing Chinese influences, the EU and U.S. need a comprehensive transatlantic agreement on digital policies.

In January 2021, the European Commission presented the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). At first glance, both acts aim to curb innovation in the EU by keeping American tech giants at bay. Combined with antitrust investigations against Facebook and Amazon, the European Union’s behavior can be easily classified as hostile toward the U.S. However, both DSA and DMA are inept attempts to understand how online platforms work and seemingly fail to strike a balance between the need to safeguard the competition while allowing smaller enterprises to innovate.

To level the playing field for all platforms regardless of their size, the Digital Markets Act put in place a series of ex-ante restrictions to determine the acceptable market behavior for big players. DSA and DMA are not anti-American per se; it just happens that the U.S. tech sector is fertile ground for disruptive platform businesses, which makes them a prime target for EU authorities.

Even U.S. lawmakers have been determined to clip the wings of big tech to encourage future digital innovation. Throughout the years, Facebook has had to fight several antitrust complaints to disprove the claims of its alleged monopoly in the social networking market. Last year, Amazon faced its first antitrust lawsuit, and Google has been flooded with these as well. Most of these proceedings are a knee-jerk reaction to the continuously growing market power of businesses that are fundamentally different from conventional supply chains and corporations that sell physical goods. The Internet has changed everything.

U.S. state and federal regulators and their European counterparts are equally puzzled about how best to address the sudden and continuous exponential growth of tech giants, services that have provided vast benefits to consumers. But in a quest to come up with a perfect piece of legislation to tame tech companies, both the EU and the U.S. have lost sight of the far-reaching hand of the Chinese Communist Party and its influence in the digital market and beyond.

TikTok is a well-known case of how one popular app with ties to China can threaten what we in the liberal democracies value most: freedom. A 2019 report released by The Guardian showed that TikTok was as much a social media platform for sharing videos as a strategically organized censorship and propaganda machine.

The app was found to not only have banned specific anti-Chinese government videos, but also promoted various Chinese organizations, ministries, schools, and universities founded outside China that pushed the Communist Party’s narrative. Huawei’s backdoor to mobile networks globally is another example of how technology is used by the Chinese government to undermine national security and privacy in liberal democracies.

The EU and the U.S. should stand up to China and its growing influence in all areas, but especially on the digital front. The potential extent of its surveillance powers in our countries is terrifying. According to a 2019 research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, Global Tone Communications Technology Co. Ltd, supervised by China’s Central Propaganda Department, mines data in more than 65 languages from 200+ countries. Since the company is state-owned, the bulk data can be used by others who have access to it.

If left unconstrained, China’s playbook on controlling its citizens could spread to liberal democracies. The EU and the U.S. must work together to develop a common digital strategy to tackle the ever-expanding influence of the CCP.

It is more important that we protect our consumers from a spy country that has detained three million Uyghurs. As such, an EU-U.S. agreement on a digital strategy centered around a shared goal to stop China is paramount to preserving our freedoms.

Originally published here

Should Saskatchewan adopt a tax on soft drinks?

In case you missed it, a tax on sugary drinks is coming to Atlantic Canada, but could it also work in Saskatchewan?

Earlier this week, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced it was introducing a tax of 20 cents a litre on soft drink products in September 2022, a move that could bring in roughly $9 million a year in revenue to the province.

The concept of a soft drink tax is nothing new as several countries have either debated the idea or implemented a sugar tax or sweetened beverage tax (SBT), including the U.K., South Africa and Mexico.

Several U.S. states or cities have also introduced a levy on sugary drinks. However, some areas like Cook County, Ill. have repealed their taxes.

Read the full article here

Bagaimana Kebijakan Regulasi Mata Uang Kripto yang Tepat?

Mata uang kripto, atau yang juga akrab disebut cryptocurrency, saat ini menjadi salah satu medium investasi dan transaksi yang mengalami peningkatan yang sangat pesat. Saat ini, kita bisa membeli berbagai produk mata uang kripto dengan sangat mudah melalui banyak sekali platform yang tersedia di dunia maya.

Tidak sedikit pula mereka yang mendapatkan banyak keuntungan dari investasi di produk-produk mata uang kripto. Keuntungan tersebut didapatkan dalam jangka waktu yang relatif sangat cepat, karena nilai dari mata uang kripto tersebut mengalami peningkatan yang sangat cepat dibandingkan dengan berbagai instrumen investasi lainnya.

Selain itu, banyaknya mata uang kripto yang bergerak sangat bebas tanpa adanya intervensi dari otoritas atau institusi negara juga menjadi daya tarik tersendiri bagi banyak orang untuk menggunakan instrumen tersebut untuk melakukan transaksi. 

Dengan bebasnya pergerakan dan peredaran mata uang kripto, maka nilainya tidak bisa dimanipulasi oleh institusi pemerintahan yang berkuasa.

Dengan semakin banyaknya pengguna mata uang kripto, saat ini kita bukan hanya bisa menggunakan mata uang kripto untuk membeli berbagai produk-produk virtual seperti poin game, tetapi juga mencakup barang-barang nyata hingga kebutuhan kita sehari-hari. 

Tidak hanya itu, beberapa negara juga sudah melegalkan mata uang kripto sebagai legal tender, sebagaimana mata uang nasional yang diterbitkan oleh pemerintahan di negara tersebut.

El Salvador misalnya, belum lama ini menjadi negara pertama yang secara resmi menjadikan mata uang kripto, seperti bitcoin dan berbagai mata uang kripto lainnya, sebagai legal tender. 

Tidak hanya El Salvador, negara-negara lain juga perlahan-lahan mulai menjadikan mata uang kripto sebagai legal tender, diantaranya adalah Panama dan Ukraina (cnbc.com, 9/9/2021).

Tetapi, tidak semua pemerintahan bersedia untuk mengikuti langkah yang diambil oleh El Salvador, Panama, dan Ukraina. 

Tidak adanya peran institusi pemerintah dalam peredaran dan pengaturan mata uang kripto membuat tidak sedikit pemerintahan di berbagai negara di dunia menaruh kecurigaan yang besar terhadap produk ini. 

Beberapa langkah yang diambil tidak main-main, mulai dari melarang mata uang kripto digunakan sebagai alat transaksi yang sah, hingga melarang seluruh kegiatan yang berkaitan dengan mata uang kripto.

Lantas, bila demikian, bagaimana kita seharusnya menyusun kebijakan yang tepat terkait dengan kebijakan mata uang kripto?


Perkembangan mata uang kripto saat ini seakan merupakan hal yang hampir mustahil dapat dibendung. Untuk itu, sangat penting bagi pemerintahan di berbagai negara di seluruh dunia untuk mampu membuat serangkaian aturan dan kebijakan regulasi yang tepat terkait dengan produk mata uang kripto ini.

Beberapa waktu lalu, lembaga advokasi konsumen internasional, Consumer Choice Center (CCC), menerbitkan makalah kebijakan yang membahas mengenai bagaimana pemerintahan negara-negara di dunia dapat menyusun regulasi yang masuk akal dan tepat terkait dengan mata uang kripto (Consumer Choice Center, 2021).

Makalah tersebut dalam pembukaannya memaparkan bahwa, sejak diperkenalkan pada tahun 2008, sektor mata uang kripto sudah mencapai nilai hingga 2 triliun dollar. Hal ini mencakup penambangan, pasar mata uang kripto, blockchains, dan lain sebagainya.

Meskipun membawa banyak manfaat, seperti memudahkan kita mengirim uang ke luar negeri, sebagai instrumen investasi, dan lain sebagainya, tetapi kita juga tidak bisa menutup mata dari berbagai potensi kejahatan dan juga penipuan yang terjadi melalui berbagai produk-produk mata uang kripto.

Untuk mencegah terjadinya hal tersebut, dan di sisi lain juga bisa mendapatkan manfaat yang luar biasa melalui mata uang kripto, CCC mengadvokasi beberapa kebijakan penting yang harus dapat diambil oleh pemerintah.

Kebijakan pertama yang sangat penting dan tidak bisa dilupakan adalah kebijakan yang berfokus untuk mencegah terjadinya penipuan dan kejahatan. Hal ini tentu sangat penting untuk mencegah penyalahgunaan mata uang kripto. 

Dengan demikian, yang harus menjadi sasaran bukan produk mata uang kripto itu sendiri, melainkan berbagai penyalahgunaan yang dilakukan dengan menggunakan mata uang kripto tersebut.

Kebijakan kedua adalah pemerintah harus memiliki posisi netral terkait dengan perkembangan teknologi. Pemerintah dalam hal ini jangan sampai menjadi hakim yang memutuskan teknologi kripto apa yang menjadi pemenang yang bisa digunakan dan mana yang kalah. Konsumen lah yang harus menjadi penentu utama melalui mekanisme pasar yang bebas,

Kebijakan ketiga yang sangat penting adalah adalah adanya kebijakan pajak yang masuk akal untuk produk-produk kripto. 

Untuk itu, para regulator juga jangan sampai melihat mata uang kripto hanya sebagai alat untuk spekulasi, tetapi juga sebagai teknologi yang memiliki potensi besar untuk membawa manfaat yang sangat luas bagi konsumen dan masyarakat.

Kebijakan keempat adalah adanya kepastian hukum bagi produk-produk kripto. 

Dengan adanya kejelasan hukum, maka kebijakan tersebut akan membuka pintu yang luas bagi perusahaan dan inovator yang bergerak di sektor mata uang kripto untuk memiliki rekening bank, mendapatkan asuransi, dan berbagai hal lain sebagaimana usaha lainnya. Dengan demikian, inovasi akan semakin meningkat.

Keempat kebijakan inilah yang harus dapat diambil oleh berbagai para pengambil kebijakan di seluruh dunia agar regulasi mata uang kripto yang masuk akal dapat tercapai. Hal ini berlaku juga tidak hanya di luar negeri tetapi juga di Indonesia.

Sebagaimana negara-negara lain di seluruh dunia, fenomena berkembangnya penggunaan mata uang kripto, baik sebagai instrumen investasi atau transaksi, juga terjadi di Indonesia. 

Berdasarkan data dari Bank Indonesia, pada bulan Maret tahun ini, setidaknya ada sekitar 3,5 juta – 4 juta pengguna mata uang kripto di Indonesia (iNews.id, 7/10/2021).

Angka 3,5 juta – 4 juta orang tentu bukan merupakan angka yang sedikit, dan berpotensi besar terus meningkat dari waktu ke waktu, mengingat sangat besarnya jumlah penduduk Indonesia dan akses internet yang semakin meluas.

Untuk itu, adanya kebijakan regulasi mata uang kripto yang masuk akal dan tepat merupakan langkah yang harus segera diambil oleh para pembuat kebijakan di Indonesia.

Dengan demikian, bila Indonesia mampu menyusun kebijakan tersebut, negara kita akan dapat mendapatkan banyak manfaat dari teknologi mata uang kripto, dan inovasi teknologi ini juga akan semakin meningkat.

Originally published here

Flying in Canada is silly expensive — time to open Air Canada and WestJet to competition

Increasing competition wouldn’t just save consumers money on flights, it could lessen the need for taxpayer-funded support of the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors

Have you looked at domestic flight prices recently? If you haven’t, you may experience a jolt of sticker shock. According to recent  reports , the average Canadian domestic flight has increased by almost $100 — or 21 per cent — compared to 2019. It was already ridiculously expensive to fly within Canada. Now, it’s practically sky-high robbery.

While it’s common to find domestic U.S. flights and even flights between major European cities for $100 or less, Canadian domestic flight prices often start in the mid-$300s and only go up from there. Worse yet, flying internationally is routinely cheaper than it is within our own borders. I travel annually from Toronto to New Brunswick to visit family, and the bill almost always comes in higher than it would if I booked a flight to Morocco, France, Rome, or basically anywhere with palm trees and warm oceans.

Read the full article here

La Prohibición de la Carne Es lo que Ocurre cuando el Alarmismo Climático se Impone

En febrero del 2020, 243 personas de la London School of Economics aprobaron una moción del sindicato de estudiantes para introducir la prohibición de la carne de vaca para todos sus 11.000 estudiantes, convirtiéndose en la tercera universidad del país en hacerlo. Y fue el ejemplo perfecto de cómo el alarmismo descarado sobre el cambio climático causa enormes problemas a todo el mundo. Sentir que se está poniendo un granito de arena para ayudar al mundo a resolver sus problemas más acuciantes se ha convertido, al parecer, en algo más importante que respetar la libertad fundamental de elegir.

Sin embargo, la única manera de hacer frente al cambio climático es aceptar esto último. Los estudiantes son los consumidores del mañana, y se merecen la misma elección de consumo.

Hay algo pretencioso en que una minoría intente imponer sus puntos de vista a todos los demás mediante prohibiciones, especialmente cuando se trata de cuestiones de mercado. En estos casos, siempre deberíamos preguntarnos cómo es que un grupo de personas que probablemente nunca hemos conocido puede saber lo que es correcto para mí.

Esta lógica penetra en un amplio espectro de regulaciones de estilo de vida, desde fumar tabaco y cannabis hasta el azúcar. En el contexto del cambio climático, socava la responsabilidad individual a un nivel muy básico al implicar que nosotros, como individuos, no nos preocupamos lo suficiente por el medio ambiente como para ayudar a reducir las emisiones de CO2.

En realidad, para bien o para mal, es difícil no hacerlo. Gracias a Greta Thunberg, a las extensas campañas mediáticas y a los acuerdos ecológicos que llegan de todas partes, el cambio climático se ha convertido en un tema de gran preocupación en todo el mundo, especialmente en Europa y Estados Unidos que, a diferencia de China, no son los mayores contaminantes mundiales. Todos estamos de acuerdo en que debemos intentar reducir las emisiones de carbono. Sólo diferimos en la forma de hacerlo.

La naturaleza humana tiene tendencia a ser impaciente. Se ha hecho popular pensar que si aprobamos una prohibición, el problema desaparecerá de la noche a la mañana. Es decir, se supone que si prohibimos la carne de vaca en el campus, todos los estudiantes dejarán pronto de comer carne y tomarán conciencia del clima. Este planteamiento puede tener cierto éxito a corto plazo a costa de la elección del consumidor, pero a largo plazo no es sostenible ni ayuda a salvar el planeta.

En cambio, adoptar soluciones innovadoras es un camino mucho más gratificante. El desarrollo de sustitutos de la carne es un ejemplo de ello.

En las últimas décadas hemos asistido a increíbles avances en el ámbito de la agricultura, que han contribuido a hacer más sostenibles la agricultura y el consumo. El potencial de la ingeniería genética se descarta a menudo debido a las afirmaciones de seguridad alimentaria no probadas y a los riesgos asociados a la alteración de la agricultura.

Sin embargo, hay muchas pruebas científicas que desmienten la creencia de que los alimentos editados genéticamente son menos seguros que los cultivados de forma convencional. Eliminar todos los productos cárnicos ahora significa rendirse ante los desafíos que tenemos por delante.

También es crucial educar a los estudiantes sobre los sustitutos de la carne y su propensión a ayudar a mitigar el cambio climático. La retórica popular no científica junto con las restricciones de mercado existentes (actualmente, los productos que contienen OGM están etiquetados como tales) pretenden alejarnos de los productos más innovadores.

El marketing y la promoción son fundamentales para dispersar la información sobre los productos, y tanto los productos con OGM como los que no lo son deben ser tratados por igual. Concienciar a los estudiantes sobre los beneficios de la modificación genética garantizaría que, como consumidores, hicieran elecciones alimentarias basadas en la ciencia.

Prohibir la carne de vaca en el campus de una institución educativa respetable es un paso atrás. El Reino Unido puede hacerlo mucho mejor. Debemos acoger la innovación y ofrecer a los consumidores la posibilidad de alejarse de los alimentos convencionales, no prohibiéndolos, sino fomentando el desarrollo de sustitutos de la carne.

Hacer de niñera a los estudiantes es fácil; animarles a convertirse en consumidores responsables y conscientes de la importancia de su libertad de elección es más difícil, pero es la clave.

Originally published here

Scroll to top