â€œThe government is trying to shut our ears and eyes.â€
Thatâ€™s not me saying that. Iâ€™m quoting one Thant Zin, a civil servant in Burma. This gentleman told the Associated Press that Burmaâ€™s â€œmilitary regime does not want us to know the truth about our country.â€
So, how does Burma shave away knowledge? By increasing taxes on satellite dishes!Most Burmese get their news from satellite TV. Since the Burmese government does not allow a free press within the country, access to the free press outside the country vexes the current junta. So the rulers decided to rocket the cost of satellite dishes upwards, beyond reach of most citizens.
The renewal fee for licensing a satellite dish is now 1 million kyat â€” about $800. It used to be about five bucks (Iâ€™ll let you figure the kyat amount).
According to an article in The Irrawaddy, a news source covering Burma and Southeast Asia, the crackdown doesnâ€™t stop there. Rangoonâ€™s mayor, Brigadier General Aung Lin, is cutting down on the number of licenses for tea shops.
Tea shops play a central role in Burmese culture. Why squelch it? I donâ€™t buy the official explanation, that too many people are wasting time in tea shops. More important, surely, is the fact that the targeted tea shops tend to be the ones with satellite TVs!
There are many reasons to be suspicious of tax-raising and government licensing. Burma shows the biggest one: these are the tools of tyranny.
This is Common Sense. Iâ€™m Paul Jacob.