Fallacies Galore

LOCAL JOURNALISTS swear they have not seen debates as highly charged as the spectacle they witnessed at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) recently.

Our provincial dads were arguing on the release of the province’s P254-million share in the P5.81-billlion tobacco excise tax due to tobacco-producing provinces.

This has been highly discussed in the news, so I will no longer delve into painstaking details, but allow me, dear karikna, to present the primary issue, which is: should Ilocos Norte participate in the Tobacco Excise Tax Monetization Program (TEMP) which would allow the province to get its share in lump sum, or should it subscribe to long-term installments, sans deductions? Under TEMP, we will be able to get our piece of the pie, but less 31.5% in bank interests and consultancy fees. Under the second option, we get almost the full amount.

Should the province participate in the TEMP, an SP resolution had to be passed to that effect. This is where the debates transpired. I know you understand why I am interested on this. I am a Philosophy teacher, and coach, too, of university debate teams. Add to that the fact that I am also a dutiful taxpayer.

One thing to be watchful for in debates are fallacies, which, as we have learned in our Logic classes, are products of convoluted reason. Here, I listed down some fallacies which were committed both by the SP members, and those who have spoken about the issue in media.

First in my list is False Dilemma. Also called Black and White Fallacy, this operates by effacing the various alternatives in between two extreme choices in a particular issue. Thus, the various gradation of gray in between black and white are concealed giving us only two alternatives, black and white.

Such is committed when one says, “either you approve the TEMP resolution or you deprive farmers their rightful share.” But, of course, there are alternatives.

I do not believe that any SP member is really against the welfare of farmers, and nobody is saying that we should not get the money. The questions are: in what manner?, and how much?

If the SP avails of TEMP in toto and as is, farmers will lose around one third of the total amount due them. They will be charged exorbitant fees for money they have already earned. Any self-respecting banker will say that the bank interest of 26 percent and the consultancy fee of 5.5 percent are just too high.

With TEMP approved as it is, farmers stand to lose around P80-million. That’s a big loss, very big loss. That means P80-million less government support to agricultural infrastructure and equipment, and to human resource development.

If paying interest is inevitable, can we not, at least, bring it down? Fifteen percent, the opposition says, would have been tolerable.

“But all others have agreed to it, why shouldn’t we?,” ask people who commit the Bandwagon Fallacy. Reportedly, Ilocos Sur, Abra, and La Union have already approved the TEMP, so proponents at the Ilocos Norte SP say we have to follow their lead, less we be left out. But, if we adopt this line, should we even need our own SP, why don’t we just wait for other LGUs to decide and just adopt whatever is the consensus? Continue reading “Fallacies Galore”