© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taxation Simplified - As explained by an economics professor

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 on 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.

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 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 restaurant, 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!"
"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, 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. 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 University of Georgia

Friday, March 02, 2007

Linguistic Chauvinism

Pretty recently, I came across this new word – Linguistic Chauvinism

For long, I had been trying to describe what had been happening with the 2 south Indian states – Karnataka & Tamilnadu. I am not sure whether this is a new addition to the dictionary, but this clearly, in one word, explains what is happening around.

Indians, traditionally had been known for their tolerant culture and heritage – A history of onslaught by the Aryans first, then the Mughals and finally the Missionaries and even after all these we live in peace and harmony as a global community. Off late, the chaos in the two states, on the basis of a river, on the basis of the language they speak has caught everybody’s attention.

Whose asset is a river anyway? What if Mother Nature decides not to rain the catchments of this river for a couple of years? What have we done to replenish the nature and the river and not end up killing it? Who is talking about forestation? But when it comes to reaping the benefits, everybody needs a piece of the pie.

In my early days of childhood, I had seen a river die. There was a river named “Nila” (also known as Bharathapuzha in the colloquial usage) which was once the largest/longest river in Kerala. It had inspired quite a lot of poets and writers during its pink time. Now, the river is no more… Only the sand dunes exist telling a tale of a dead river. People call it “Nila Highway”; because it is a long broad stretch of sand with bridges and pump stations reminding the new generation that… Once upon a time, a river existed here… And during monsoons, it is more of a storm water drain.

Coming back to the original point, what does language has to do with rivers – other than that the language speaking population who they benefit out of them? Nothing. Then why is all this “hoo haa” created on this issue? The answer is simple. Lack of Vision. Our so called elected leaders do not have a vision beyond setting the stage for winning the next election and in the process accumulate wealth! They need something to keep the public (aam janata) busy so that this would hide their inefficiencies. Why can’t we share the national resources? Is a Kannadiga’s blood different from that of a Tamilian? Or Is a Tamilian’s thirst worse than Kannadiga’s? This realization has to happen. And the only way to do this is education. Educate people; Assist them to have a broader perspective of things.

And why are we electing these people again and again? The voting majority in urban areas is less compared to the rural areas. Why? The answer is simple – Apathy. When asked to choose between a devil and sea, people chose to have a cup of tea at home and enjoy the holiday with family rather than going out to stand in the queue and cast the vote. The recent outburst of a prominent JD(S) leader to the urban populace in Bangalore explains that. His populist drama does not sell with educated people. Hence his frustration.

Somebody told me that there is a provision in the constitution where you can go to the polling booth and decide not to vote for anybody – because there is no eligible candidate. Your vote will be counted as Nil. And if the percentage of Nil votes is more than a certain percentage of the total electoral rolls, the election is considered void. At present, the voting system does not provide the anonymity of such cases and hence people would not turn up; scared of being a political target and other consequences. If the EC can provide this Nil vote as an option in the ballot and provide anonymity in such cases, I am sure lots of the political dirt can be cleaned up.

However, I learned a new word to express the current socio-political situation in South India - Linguistic Chauvinism