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Column: Keeping taxes low is patriotic

Marcus Bowen

Oct. 27, 2008

 John McCain has promised that he will not raise taxes on any Americans. Barack Obama has not. A few weeks ago, Joe Biden called paying higher taxes "patriotic." He may have forgotten that our nation was established in rebellion to excessive British taxation.

Americans do not like to be taxed, and most of us don't think paying high taxes is a form of patriotism. Obama has justified his tax increase plan by saying that it will only affect the rich.

Since I don't plan on being a poor college student for the rest of my life, I was a little scared by Obama's "punish the rich" message. Earlier this week, a friend of mine sent me the following story. This story really put taxes in perspective for me. I hope it helps you, too:

Every day, 10 men go out for dinner and the bill for all 10 comes to $100. These men decide to pay their bill the same way we pay our taxes. The first four men, the poorest, pay nothing. The fifth pays $1. The sixth pays $3. The seventh pays $7. The eighth pays $12. The ninth pays $18. The tenth man, the richest, pays $59.

The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement. All was well 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 meal by $20."

Dinner for the 10 now cost only $80. The group decided to continue paying their bill in the same way we pay our taxes. With the discount, the first four men were unaffected; they still ate free.

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. If they subtracted $3.33 from every share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would be paid to eat their meal. The other eight men didn't like this idea.

The restaurant owner suggested it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing. The sixth paid $2 instead of $3 and saved 33 percent. The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7, saving 28 percent. The eighth paid $9 instead of $12, saving 25 percent. The ninth man paid $14 instead of $18, saving 22 percent. The tenth man now paid $49 instead of $59, and saved 16 percent. Each of the six was better off than before, with the first four still eating free.

Once they were 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 10th 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 10 times more than me!"

"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 10th and beat him up. The next night the 10th man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. When it came time to pay the bill, there was a problem. Without the 10th man, they didn't have enough money to cover even half of the bill!

While this story is simplistic, it does illustrate a good point. Just like the rest of us, rich people work hard for their money. Obama's arguments for massive wealth redistribution will stifle productivity and only drive these successful entrepreneurs overseas. If it's not safe to eat dinner here, they'll simply start dining elsewhere.

Don't just hope for low taxes, don't just wish for more jobs - vote for them. On Nov. 4, vote for the freedom to keep what you earn - vote McCain.


Marcus Bowen is a former vice president of the MU College Republicans and serves with the Jackson County Republican Party. He can be reached at

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