Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:20 pm Post subject: Do the rich pay their fair share?
From Charles Adler a must read...
I was having lunch at a great restaurant with one of my favourite clients last week and the conversation turned to the government’s recent round of tax cuts. “I’m opposed to those tax cuts,” the retired university teacher declared, “because they benefit the rich. The rich get much more money back than ordinary taxpayers like you and I and that’s not fair.”
“But the rich pay more in the first place,” I argued, “so it stands to reason that they’d get more money back.” I could tell that my friend was unimpressed by this meager argument. Even university teachers are prisoners of a myth that the “rich” somehow get a free ride in Canada. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day 10 men go to PJ’s for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If it was paid the way we pay our taxes, the first four men 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.
The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until 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. Now dinner for the ten costs only $80.
The first four are unaffected. They still eat for free. Can you figure out how to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets their fair share? The men realize that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33, but if they subtract that from everybody’s share, the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal. The restaurant owner suggested that it would be more 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 in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of $59. Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man pointing to the tenth. “and 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 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 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, boys and girls and college instructors, is how Canada’s 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 any more. There’s lots of good restaurants in Switzerland and the Caribbean.
That is a very good analogy! I'm "poor" and I don't think that the rich are bad or somehow have to pay inordinately more tax than others do.
I like this quote:
"...the untrained administrators play havoc to make the subjects happy in all respects. On the other hand, these untrained administrators gradually become rogues and thieves and increase the taxation to finance a top-heavy administration that is useless for all purposes..."
This question's been around since man discovered how to start a fire with a couple of rocks and a few sticks (is your fire bigger than mine?). Envy and jealousy often distort a person's idea of what is "fair".
For years I have been trying to climb Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid so I could experience that kind of wealth, comfortably, no guilt feelings.
I know a few in that rarefied world.
But I keep sliding down... I keep thinking it's timing... or somthing. What am I missing? Brains? Tenacity? Entrepreneurial spirit? The list is not short. And all the welthy people I have met or read about shared one thing that they have in common — they are not stupid.
But, the journalists and academics, even those who teach business, think they are smarter, better educated. They work for other reasons than just money... yet they want redistribution of wealth any which way possible. To feel more comforatble or to bring down the rich from those lofty heights? They want to turn the pyramid upside down. But if you notice the middle part stays at the same level.
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