Monday, February 28, 2011

It Might Be Funny If It Had Any Truth To It At All

I mentioned a joke in the last post that was posted by a "liberal" friend.

I didn't realize it was "going around".  My buddy in KC was having a similar argument on FB at practically the same time and the same "joke" was brought up.  Here it is:

"A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party and a Big Corp CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says, "Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."
I re-wrote the "joke".  It's a good illustration of why we conservatives have difficulty getting our message across.  Reality doesn't lend itself to short snarky quips.  And this one doesn't even really have much bearing on reality since in the real world ... the CEO brought the cookies in the first place.  Cookies don't just magically appear on tables.  But I digress.  Here's my long-winded version:

A public union employee, a Tea Partier, a CEO, and a progressive Democrat politician are sitting around a table. The CEO brought a dozen cookies his company made, and hands one to each person. The Tea Partier thanks the CEO for bringing the cookies. The public union employee complains that the CEO still has more cookies than he does, and protests the greediness of the CEO.

The Progressive Democrat says "I will take four of those cookies for the public good, thank you" (corporate tax rate) and hands one to the public union employee and one to the Tea Partier. The public union employee thanks the politician. The Tea Partier, while he probably keeps the second cookie, realizes that it really came from the CEO. He points this out, but is called a "hater" for siding with the CEO.

The public union employee and the Tea Partier now each have two cookies. The politician has three, and the CEO has 5. The public union employee decides that two cookies do not measure up to his "fair share" and protests for another, since the "greedy" CEO has more. The Politician steps in and says the union employee is right, he deserves another cookie. So the politician collects two more cookies from the CEO, keeps one for overhead and his campaign fund, and hands the other to the union member.

The Union member now has three cookies, the Tea Partier two cookies, the CEO has three cookies, and the politician has four cookies. The union member is happy, the Tea Partier is just grateful to have any cookies, but the CEO grumbles that the politician has more cookies than he ever intended to give plus the politician got credit for “generously” handing out the CEO's cookies while the CEO was viewed as "greedy". The politician thinks about this and breaks a cookie in half and hands one half back to the CEO. The Union member screams that the government is giving handouts to the rich. The politician says not to worry, he will take another cookie from the CEO next time they go to lunch if elected.  "Just vote for me."

Then the politician and the union member wonder why the CEO is subsequently reluctant to bring his cookies to lunch.
Yeah, see, it's not funny at all. A darned sight closer to reality, though.


Anonymous said...

Well, if you want to get really accurate, the CEO didn't make the cookies. The CEO had to hire people to make the cookies. The people he hired had to be reasonably well educated in order to make the cookies which took schools. The CEO had to transport the cookies to market which took roads. The CEO had to have laws that protected his making money off his cookies which took politicians and courts. The CEO had to have protection against a fire in the company's bakery, which took firefighters. All paid by the public. So in what way are the cookies all his?

Isn't this accurate analogy thing fun?

philmon said...

In the way that he took the majority of the risk. In the way that he put up the capital that gave the bakers a place to work with steady income and low risk especially relative to the risk the baker would risk trying to make his living baking out of his little oven in his little kitchen at home.

And, in fact, the CEO is probably in the top 5% income bracket and thus he and his peers pay over half of the taxes the government collects anyway -- money that wouldn't be there if people like him weren't successful at creating jobs (including jobs for those truck drivers that drove the cookies over those roads) and providing goods that people wanted enough to be willing to pay for.

See, the government doesn't have any wealth on its own. It must take it from others. And the fact of the matter is, it takes most of it from rich people as it is.

And when it takes too much, entrepreneurs take their cookies and go elsewhere, leaving fewer jobs for our bakers and truck drivers. And advertising agents. And TV stations.

Yeah, it's plenty fun, actually. But you do have to stick to the facts to win.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's fun, if you actually read it.

The writer wrote "The CEO brought a dozen cookies his company made.." He didn't say HE made them.

As for the schools, they are supported by property taxes. People who pay those taxes earn their money at companies. Huh. So having a job pays the taxes- whether for a company or whether you're your own boss/CEO.

The roads are paid by tax dollars taken from folks who, follow me here, EARNED the money. So once again the money trail goes back to a business transaction- ie, a business.

It goes on and on. Taxes don't come from nowhere. They come from earnings. Earnings are made by business- whether you're the owner, or you're the worker. When you say "Public", you act like that's a group that has nothing to do with companies. It has EVERYTHING to do with companies, whether a company of one or one thousand.

philmon said...

That is, of course, the main flaw in the original story. In the story, the cookies just "appear".

This doesn't happen in real life.

It's the old "fixed-size wealth pie" theory. In that theory there's this "wealth", see, and it belongs to everybody equally, and if you have more of it it can only because you're greedy.

Only as the story of The Little Red Hen illustrates pretty well to any 5 year old ... that's really not the case.

Now you COULD have thousands of bakers baking out of their own kitchens, and what you end up with is low efficiency, unstable income, and expensive cookies. If you can get them.

The guy who came up with the idea and put in the effort and capital to build a big cookie factory where people could come work and bake cookies much more efficiently and make money all year round doing it -- and if he were sick for a while, when he got better he wouldn't have to re-build his clientele having lost it to other bakers ... besides, now more people can afford cookies and have easy access to them because they're distributed all over the place. And people can just grab some cookies at the store and go do something else, like take their kids to soccer games or go see their school play.

And not only are the CEO and the Corporation (35% corporate tax rate, remember) paying more taxes to support the state, the employees are making more money so they also pay more (though at a lower rate and on much less money than the CEO or the Corporation) in taxes.

Everybody wins. But the CEO isn't the villian. He is, in fact, the hero. Without him, we're much less well off.

Now you can go try to create your own society where everybody shares equally in whatever wealth is created in it regardless of his ability or effort, you just go right ahead. It's been attempted many times. What happens is, incentive to create wealth plummets, and everybody gets poorer.

philmon said...

Oh, and property taxes ... ever wonder what the difference between your property taxes on your house and the property taxes on, say, a department store or factory is?

I'll bet you wouldn't want to trade bills.