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Coffee Shop Economics


At this time of year, Americans have either already done their income taxes or still have about a month and a half to put it off. On top of that, we just heard today about the president's proposed new budget with tax increases for the nation's most wealthy. (We all will have to wait breathlessly to see if there's any chance it can go through.) This all made me think of something that's been aging in my files for the right moment to be posted....

picture of latte

Coffee Shop Economics

Suppose that every weekday ten men go out for lattes. The coffee shop is the best one around and their beverages are not cheap. Each day the total bill for the ten men 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, enjoying the latte and his friends.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men had lattes 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 coffees by $20."

Lattes for the ten now cost just $80. They could continue to enjoy their lattes and their time together, but for a lot less!

The group still wanted to continue to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink coffee 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 coffee.

So, to be fair, the owner suggested reducing each of the six men's bills 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 coffee for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I got only one 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 saved only one 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 man and beat him up.

The next night, as much as he had previously been enjoying coffee with the guys, the tenth man didn't show up for coffee. So the nine sat down and had their lattes 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 to pay even half of the tab! Too late, though, since their wealthy friend had no plans to return.

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, all the while still getting stuck for most of the tax revenues. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might go to other coffee shops where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier and less demanding and where they can drink a latte for the same price everyone else pays and possibly with nicer friends.

(Added 5 March 2009: I just learned that the original idea for the scenario above came from David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, University of Georgia. The original that I received was unattributed and I could not find the source. I changed it quite a bit, turning it into a coffee shop instead of a bar, but I'd like to give credit where credit is due. I was really surprised to find that Muddy Dog Roasting Co. had done almost the same thing with the piece back in October 2008! Great minds....)

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What are your thoughts on the Coffee Shop Economics story above? Do you think it's valid? There's an interesting article about this type of thing called The 2% Illusion in the Opinion Journal of today's Wall Street Journal.

This week has been extremely full, but definitely good. Our church, Hampton Park Baptist Church, has been hosting the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team all week. The messages have been excellent and the music outstanding. Anyone local who would like to attend Friday evening's Irish Sacred Concert, the meeting begins at 7:00. Come a few minutes early to get settled into a seat before it starts.

quotation...

"Every person born since Adam's sin is not God-centered, but self-centered." - Steve Pettit

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The IRS looks at every taxpayer as having what it takes.


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What’s a Billion?


picture comparing numbers
It's hard enough for me to get my mind around one million, but to try to understand the concepts of a billion or a trillion is beyond my finite mind. (You math teachers out there, please be patient with me and thank the Lord that He wanted me to be a French professor instead!)

A million is a hard concept to grasp. Did you know that a stack of a million one dollar bills is about 358 feet tall?! I read somewhere that for a person to count out loud from 1 to 1,000,000 it would take 23 days, counting day and night, without breakfast, lunch or dinner, without sleep, television, a phone call or a bathroom break!

Here are several more concrete comparisons of a million, a billion, and a trillion:

A million seconds is 12 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

A million minutes ago was 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes ago
A billion minutes ago it was the year 107 AD.
A trillion minutes ago was over 1,900,000 years ago!

[added the evening of October 2 - for a really clear comparison of a million and a billion, take a look at Andrew's comment to this post]

Between World War I and World War II, Germans had to deal with astronomic numbers daily because inflation was so high and their currency was so devalued. It cost 200 billion Marks to buy one loaf of bread! Imagine having to deal with numbers like that! You can read a very good article about it by clicking here. Here's a picture of a German one billion Mark bill from 1923:

Whatever you want to say

Evolutionists throw the words million and billion around pretty freely. Here's a story I love that highlights that:

Tourists in the Chicago Museum of Natural History were amazed at the dinosaur bones. One of them asked the guard, "Can you tell me how old the dinosaur bones are?"

The guard replied, "They are three million four years and six months old."

"That's an awfully exact number," said the tourist. "How do you know their age so precisely?"

The guard answered, "Well, I was told that the dinosaur bones were three million years old when I started working here, and that was four and a half years ago."

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Lately politicians are throwing the word billion around like it's chump change. The following article is from the website of one of our local TV stations WYFF 4:

If the $700 billion price tag attached to the bailout plan that failed sounds like a lot, well, it is.

You can spend $700 billion in a lot of different ways. For instance, you could buy a war — the U.S. has spent $648 billion on the war in Iraq so far.

That much money could ensure universal health care coverage for six years or upgrade the country's most deficient bridges four times over. Or you could build 1,750 bridges to nowhere. Surely all of those would eventually take you somewhere.

With $700 billion you could easily run Denmark, which had a paltry gross domestic product of $312 billion last year.

That much money could also pay back every single outstanding student loan, fund the national intelligence budget beyond 2020, or help the Gulf Coast recover from five Hurricane Katrinas.

The next time you hear a politician use the word billion in a glib, casual manner, you might want to think about how wisely politicians are spending your tax money. I guess if you can be glib about a billion, what's a measly $700 billion bailout?! It's just 700 of those billion-thingies....

Several people have expressed their thoughts about the bailout in their comments to my post the blame game. I'd be interested in reading what my readers think about the prospect of our government bailing out these failing businesses.

quotation...

"The certainty that Messiah reigns produces calm in the face of current affairs, patience with the events of one's own life, satisfaction with the Lord's management of all things, expectancy that a glorious future is coming, and confidence in the One who sits upon the throne." - Walter Chantry

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

"The god of the 'American Dream' doesn't seem to be coming through right now." - Dr. Drew Conley


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Could Noah Build His Ark Today?


Have you ever visited the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio? This past Friday my wife and I were finally able to, and it is well worth the trip! We had heard good things from many who have visited, and our expectations were exceeded. It was really exciting to see something so well done that glorifies the Creator God of the Bible. There are so many forces at work in today's world trying to tear down faith in the Bible and the God of the Bible. It's a huge blessing to find a place whose goal is just the opposite of that. If you have never visited, we strongly recommend it.

Here's a picture of the display that showed how Noah's ark may have looked during construction.

Noah's ark under construction

Thinking about Noah's ark made me think of something I've been wanting to post.

Could Noah build his ark today?

If Noah lived in the United States today, the story may have gone something like this:

And the Lord spoke to Noah and said, "In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an ark."

God delivered the specifications for the ark. With fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the ark.

"Remember" said the Lord, "You must complete the ark and bring everything aboard in one year."

Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult.

The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping.

"Noah," He said. "Where is the ark?"

"Lord, please forgive me!" cried Noah. "I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not meet the codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans. Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.

"Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

"Then I had problems getting enough wood for the ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me catch any owls. So, no owls.

"The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now I have 16 carpenters on the ark, but still no owls.

"When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me only taking two of each kind aboard. Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.

"Then the Army Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain. I sent them a map.

"Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard.

"The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.

"I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the ark as a "recreational watercraft.

"Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional. I really don't think I can finish the ark for another five or six years!" Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arched across the sky.

Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean You are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?"

"No," said the Lord. "I don't have to. The government is already doing the destruction."

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My wife Becka and I are spending this week at the home of our daughter Megan, son-in-law Jim, and grandson Drew. Grandma and I took Drew for a walk this evening to a nearby park where he enjoyed swinging. Here's a picture of him clapping to show his enjoyment.

Drew enjoying a swing at the park

I'm confident we'll have more pictures to share later this week. 🙂

quotation...

"Evolution is a philosophy, not science." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Did Noah keep his bees in archives?


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Lighten up!


Today I'm posting a few of the myriad "LBJ's" - light bulb jokes - in existence. This whole thing came to mind as we replaced our lighting fixture in our dining room last week. I'll start off with one that is unfortunately not a joke!

Q: How many Congress critters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 400 (314 members of the United States House of Representatives and 86 members of the United States Senate)

Late in 2007 Congress voted for an energy bill to force Americans to change the relatively inexpensive incandescent light bulbs they’re currently using and replace them with expensive new, "energy-efficient" light bulbs, and President Bush did not veto the bill! (I guess he's joined the rest of those belonging to the Global Warming Cult.) This brings to mind the 1992 energy bill, in which Congress banned the 3.5 gallon toilet, mandating that Americans no longer use more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Those new toilets have proven not to be enough to, er, get the job done. Since it sometimes takes two and three flushes per visit, Americans are using the same amount of water, if not more, than they did before Congress stuck its collective nose into our bathrooms.

And I've read that "those who know what's best for the rest of us" are also considering banning top-loading washers and disposable diapers, among other things. The "Progressives" won't be happy until we're virtuously beating cloth diapers on rocks by a steam in pitch darkness!

(Mini-rant ended...)

I guess we'll cope with this news by making "light" of it, so to speak....

Q: How many college students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I dunno, I forgot my calculator at home.

Q: How many philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Define "light bulb"

Q: How many evolutionists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but the bulb change will take billions of years.

Q: How many deconstructionists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: On the contrary, the NILE is the longest river in Africa.

Q: How many folk singers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to change the bulb, and one to write a song about how good the old light bulb was.

Q: How many gorillas does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Just one, but it takes a lot of light bulbs.

Q: How many dyslexics does it change to take a light bulb?
A: Eno

Q: How many stockbrokers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Oh, no! The bulb's out! Let's sell our GE stock NOW!

Q: How many pre-med students does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five: One to change the bulb and four to pull the ladder out from under him.

Q: How many jugglers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, but it takes at least three lightbulbs.

Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: How many can you afford?

Q: How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two, one to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

Q: How many editors of Poor Richard's Almanac does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Many hands make light work.

Q: How many magicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That depends on what you want to change it into.

Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. It's a hardware problem.
A: One, but if he changes it, the whole building will probably fall down.
A: Two. One always leaves in the middle of the project.
A: Five. Two to write the specification program, one to screw it in, and two to explain why the project was late.

Q: How many database programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three: one to write the light bulb removal program, one to write the light bulb insertion program, and one to act as a light bulb administrator to make sure nobody else tries to change the light bulb at the same time.

Q: How many political pollsters/activitists/candidates/recordings does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Way too many, but they have to do it while you're eating dinner.

Q: How many presidential candidates does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It won't ever get done. They only promise change.

Q: How many Amish does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What's a light bulb?

Q: How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb? (I know, I know - dogs can't change light bulbs, but hey, "lighten up" and enjoy!)
A: It depends on the breed (see below)....

Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?

Border Collie: Just one. And I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

Dachshund: I can't reach the dumb lamp!

Toy Poodle: I'll just whisper sweet nothings in the Border Collie's ear and he'll change it for me. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

Rottweiler: Go Ahead! Make me!

Shi-tzu: Puh-leeze, dah-ling. Let the servants take care of such things....

Lab: Oh, me, me!!! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze let *me* change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I?

Malamute: Let the Border Collie do it. You can feed me while he's busy.

Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still wet on the carpet in the dark.

Doberman Pinscher: While it's dark, I'm going to sleep on the couch.

Mastiff: Mastiffs are NOT afraid of the dark.

Hound Dog: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.

Pointer: I see it, there it is, right there....

Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?

Australian Shepherd: Put all the light bulbs in a little circle....

Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb?

special request update...

Thanks to the 200+ people who took our campus son Tim's online survey over the weekend. When I told him that there were 4,963 unique visitors to my blog during the month of January 2008, he was excited that he might get as many as 1,000 take the survey. That would give him a far better sampling for his research. I hope many more of you will take the time to answer the 10 questions on his anonymous survey and submit your answers by clicking the button at the bottom of that page. The link is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=jNTcwcdc_2bUDcECUc3cxt4A_3d_3d

quotation...

"You are the light of the world if you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Some gardeners turn their lights on in the evening so they can watch their phlox by night.


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Another Bad LP Jacket?


I was surfing this evening and found what looks like could be yet another in the series of "really bad album covers."

Though it's from the same era as many of the LP jackets, the picture below is actually of a well-known couple - a couple from the generation whose mantra was "Question authority."

Oh my!

quotation...

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

I'm Rob, the ivman, and I approve of this blog post.


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