Bar Stool Economics
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Old 12-09-2008, 03:27 AM   #1
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Default 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, 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 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, 'I'm 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 I!'
'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 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, 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.

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

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

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Old 12-09-2008, 04:20 AM   #2
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interesting approach to economics.- i think thats the right term

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:21 AM   #3
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I'm gathering short stories and allegories to help people of all ages understand some of what we're going through right now, and why their "soak the rich" attitudes won't fly. This is helpful, thanks!

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Old 12-09-2008, 01:47 PM   #4
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Very nice. Should be required reading in school, like by the 6th grade...

JD

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Old 12-09-2008, 02:25 PM   #5
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While I've always understood the principle, I don't think I've ever heard it stated with that much clarity.

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