Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes,
would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day

and seemed quite happy with the arrangement,
until one day, the owner threw
them a curve.
'Since you are all such good customers,' he said,
going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.'
Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes
so the
first four men were unaffected.
They would still drink for free.
But what
about the other six men - the paying customers?
How could they divide the
$20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'
They realized
that $20 divided by six is $3.33.
But if they subtracted
that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would
each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it
would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount,
and he
proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to
drink for free.
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare

their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20', declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right', exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a
dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!'

'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10
back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We
didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth
man didn't show up for drinks,
so the nine sat down and had beers without
But when it came time to pay the bill they discovered something

They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half

of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax
system works.
The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from

a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they

just may not show up anymore.
In fact, they might start drinking overseas

where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.


Brit said...

oh how i have missed your wit and just down right awesomeness.
great great post.

Abby said...

Gosh, I wish you weren't such an alcoholic.

So is this what they refer to as "trickle down beer-conomics?"

hello jamie: said...

you know that "overseas" they pay WAY more than us in taxes, right? Like, closer to 50-60%? I'm just sayin'- we have it pretty good.

So, I take from this post you have voted for/are voting for....?