View Full Version : Simplified Tax Economics

January 31, 2003, 08:46
Simplified Tax Economics
Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day,
ten men go out for dinner.

The bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it 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 $7; The eighth $12; The ninth
$18; The tenth man -- the richest - would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do.

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant 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, "I'm going to reduce the cost of
your daily meal by $20."

So now dinner for the ten only cost $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 eat for free. But what
about the other six -- the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20
windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?" The six men 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 end
up being *paid* to eat their meal. So the restaurant 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 paid nothing, the sixth pitched $2, the seventh, paid
$5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a
bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to
eat 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. "But he got $7!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the
fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too." It's unfair that he got seven times
more than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $7 back
when I got only $2? 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 he
didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But
when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important.

They were $52 short!

And that, my friends, journalists, and college instructors, is how
the 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 at the table anymore.

--Moral: There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the