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.
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 bar, 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 did!”
“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, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is
how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the
most benefit from a 20% tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them
for being wealthy, and they just may not show up any more. In fact, they
might start drinking overseas.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.