Taxes explained in terms of beer

User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 6 days ago.
Number 468
FUR3jr's picture
Conspirator for: 5 years 26 weeks
Posted on: December 20, 2010 - 1:35am

This is in response to Gard's remarks on the podcast dated 12-9-10

In this pod gard discusses how the rich pay a disproportionate amount of tax.  If you applied this to bar tabs for ten people, you would get something like this e-mail which I received at work one day

As an aside, the accredited author denies having written this, and makes no comment as to the validity of this analogy.



Subject: Taxes explained in beer

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 ball. "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 men would 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 a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving). 

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving). 

The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving). 

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving). 

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving). 

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving). 

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 saving," 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 benefit than me!" 

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!" 

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax 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 their 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 government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally 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. 

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. 

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible


User offline. Last seen 2 years 13 weeks ago.
Number 746
Weedwacker's picture
Conspirator for: 3 years 20 weeks
Posted on: December 20, 2010 - 2:57pm #1

I like that analogy.  The rich guy should have pulled a John Galt and disappeared for a night or two and could have avoided the fight!


"Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."

Frank Zappa

User offline. Last seen 31 weeks 4 days ago.
Number 545
mothyspace's picture
Conspirator for: 5 years 7 weeks
Posted on: December 20, 2010 - 5:14pm #2

On this issue, there was a thing called an Alcopops tax mooted here in Oz a few years back.

Basically imposed a taxation unit on the price of sugar based alcopop drinks that are used by youth who are only starting out in the drinking game.

Rationale used was that the revenue raised something in the range of 100-200 million AUD I recall, would be used to improve health services to prevent drinking. Ended up being a bit of a fizzer!


I used to be the man. Until I decided to stick it to myself - mothyspace
A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. – Edward R. Murrow