The six men 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 end up being PAID to eat
their meal. So the restaurant 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
• as before, the first four men paid nothing;
• now the fifth man also paid nothing;
• the sixth man now paid $2;
• the seventh paid $5;
• the eighth man paid $9;
• the ninth man paid $12;
• leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first
four continued to eat for free.
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare
their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20
reduction," declared the sixth man, but he, pointing to the
tenth. "But 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 $2? 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, a little late what was very important. They were
now Fifty-Two Dollars short of paying the bill. Imagine
And that, boys and girls, journalists, and college
instructors, is how the 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 anymore.
Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing
authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather