>> Thursday, November 1, 2012

A friend, Josh, shared the following on Facebook, and I thought it worth passing along.  I would have written it a bit differently were I the author, but I'm not so I didn't, and the analogy is still very good.   

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

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.00
The sixth would pay $3.00
The seventh would pay $7.00
The eighth would pay $12.00
The ninth would pay $18.00
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.00

So that's what they decided to do. The men drank in the bar every day and
seemed quite happy with arraignment, until one day, the owner threw them a

"Since you are all such good customers, he said, I'm going to reduce the
cost of your daily beer by $20.00.
"Drinks for the ten men now cost just $80.00

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 there "fair share?" They realized
that $ 20.00 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 pay $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, 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 union. " We didn't I 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 him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they
discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of
them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalist 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.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible

David R. Kamerschen, PH. D
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia


Coulter, retard, and the better debate

>> Saturday, October 27, 2012

Greetings, friends!

I’ve not determined to begin blogging earnestly again, but as I found myself sharing a video to Facebook and typing a long comment to go with it, it occurred to me that I really ought to just throw it up on my blog and say that I’ve blogged. :-) Video in question here (discussion of retard comment begins at 8:45):

I am not a fan of Ann Coulter because she says things that I am uncomfortable with and believe to be inappropriate (I stopped giving much weight to most of what she said during her 911 widow bashing phase, which I thought was genuinely offensive), and as a Christian I believe firmly that our words should be seasoned with salt and grace. But, that said, I believe Coulter is basically correct when it comes to the "word police" issue. Words aren't "policed" in a vacuum. There is almost always a motive behind that policing, often more political in nature than good-willed, and as well intended as those motives may be, the assumptions made by those doing the policing about those who don't agree with them often just aren't correct. People talk differently. They have different vocabularies, with different assigned meanings, and if we start policing language in the socio/political sphere and sense then we should not be surprised if/when we find ourselves thinking more about not saying anything "incorrect" and less about the substance of what we say. This latest Coulter incident is actually a good example of that.

I am not very concerned that Coulter chose "retard" instead of loser, stupid, dumb, imbecile, etc.. However, I do believe it is silly and disrespectful to call him any of those things. Now, you could say he isn't wise, and that's a good question to ask. You could say he is wrong, and that's a good question to ask. But stupid? A loser? Instead of looking at the merits of the substance of what she says we are debating whether or not it's okay to call someone a retard, and I believe our conversations have suffered because of it. As poor a choice of wording as “retard” is, the sin many have assigned isn’t that the substance of her charge was wrong and disrespectful but that she used an “insensitive” i.e. politically incorrect word. By this standard, Lawrence O’Donnell is okay to make the absurd and obscenely accusations he makes on a routine basis against those who disagree with him, simply because he doesn’t use words deemed politically incorrect by the word police.

If our goal is raise the standard of discourse in the public arena then we must stop obsessing with a litany of ill-defined incorrect words focus instead on the substance of what is said and the reasons it is said. I believe that would lead to a better debate. God bless and veritas supra omnis!


Do not pay too much for the whistle

>> Thursday, February 16, 2012

Greetings all,

Have you ever known or heard of someone who devotes time, money or other resource to something that in your mind just wasn't worth it? Sometimes, you just ask yourself "do they really have any concept of value?" I am sure you have and do because everybody, whether they realize it or not, "pays" for everything, be it good or bad. If you take that vacation you pay time and money. If you save up a rainy day fund you pay by giving up the luxuries you might otherwise have been inclined too. When you devote yourself completely to your job so that it and your future are secure and comfortable you pay by giving up involvement with your family and community. Whatever it is, good or bad, we pay for everything. It seems to be common sense, but far too many people have no concept of value and as a result they pay far more than something is worth. On this matter Benjamin Franklin shared much wisdom in a letter written to Madame Brillon in 1779.

"I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the meantime, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, "He pays, indeed," said I, "too much for his whistle."

If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, "Poor man," said I, "you pay too much for your whistle."

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, "Mistaken man," said I, "you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle."

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, "Alas!" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle."

When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, "What a pity," say I, "that she should pay so much for a whistle!"

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles."

I discovered this letter when reading an article on personal finance management from The Art of Manliness that I also pass on with my recommendation. I believe Mr. Franklin frames the issues wonderfully and no doubt I will find the phrase "will I pay too much for this whistle?" running through my mind many times in the future. As a young man in my early independent professional life, the impulse to make quick decisions without fully considering their consequences, and then to not go back and review my decisions after they are made to see if they still make sense, is very strong, so a call for caution is very beneficial.

God bless and veritas supra omnis!


Wisdom from Madison

>> Saturday, January 7, 2012

"It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution [the Ninth Amendment]"

-James Madison speaking in support of the Bill of Rights and 4th Amendment


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