Saw this on a Sovereign Digest email and loved it. It really sums up the misconceptions of what different segments of the people think about taxation.
Can You Really Bowl for Free?
New research this past week from the Pew Research Center. Survey says … most Americans think the wealthy – defined as households earning more than $1 million a year – pay too little in taxes … despite the fact that while they comprise just 0.3% of all taxpayers, they pay 20% of all taxes.
I am not one of the households Pew calls wealthy. Still, I am sympathetic to those who are constantly under attack for supposedly not paying their fair share when it’s really an issue of government not doing more to address mindless spending. For those who think the wealthy are coddled and that tax cuts are designed to hurt the poor, I give you this little tale to put it all into perspective:
Every Tuesday, five buddies gather at the local bowling alley for their weekly bowling night. They pay their bill – $100 a month – on the last Tuesday. Because their job status spans everything from day-laborer to accountant to the owner of a highly successful small business, they’ve decided to allocate their costs based on U.S. federal income tax liabilities for each class of earners, as tracked by the Congressional Budget Office.
The first two bowlers, the poorest in the group, pay nothing.
The third bowler pays $4.45.
The fourth is responsible for $12.30.
The fifth bowler is on the hook for $83.25 – but he’s the chap who owns the successful small business, so he’s comfortable paying his otherwise outsized portion.
One night, the owner of the bowling alley – also a long-time friend of the group – tells his chums that, because they’re such good customers, he’s giving them a price break. From now on, the monthly fee is just $80.
Over beers, the buddies debate the savings of $4 per bowler and conclude that they can’t just subtract that from what everyone owes because the first two bowlers would effectively be paid to bowl, and that seems preposterous. The alley owner suggests the group reduce each of the paying bowler’s cost according to the same taxation principles they were using … the poorest bowler receives the biggest reduction; the richest bowler the smallest reduction.
The first two still bowl for free.
The third now pays $2.67 a month – saving $1.78 (a 40% price cut).
The fourth pays $9.23 a month – saving $3.08 (a 25% price cut).
And the fifth saw his cost drop to $68.55 – a savings of $14.70 (an 18% price cut).
As the quintet left the bowling alley that night, Bowler #4, the accountant, stopped his friends to insist angrily that Bowler #5 “received nearly $15. I got just $3. That’s not fair that he gets almost five times the benefit I do!”
Bowler #3 did a quick calculation and concurred: “He got nearly seven times what I got. Why should the wealthy get all the breaks?”
Bowlers #1 and #2 piped up to decry a system that gave them none of the savings … even though they’re still bowling for free anyway. “We got nothing,” they screamed in unison. “The rich always screw the poor!”
The four enraged buddies surround Bowler #5 and beat the hell out of him for ripping them off.
Over the next month, four buddies showed up for their weekly bowling night. When the $80 bill arrived on the last Tuesday of the month, the four realized that, combined, they only had enough money to cover a small portion of their costs.
The moral of today’s tale: Bowlers who make the most money will always get the biggest tax breaks in dollar terms because that’s how math works.If you abuse those bowlers enough, they simply go away … taking with them the money that supports those who would otherwise never get to bowl in the first place.
“Murray Priestley has 25 years of commercial and asset management experience having served in board, CEO and senior executive positions with a number of global public and private companies.”