A Simple Math Lesson

22 10 2012

As a teacher of high school aged students for thirteen years, I taught the same lesson every year, and to my surprise (and theirs) I got the same result. The lesson was on how to calculate percentages and different areas of our lives where we might use this skill.

After teaching the basic operation we would then move to application. I would ask how much you should tip at 20% if your meal was $34.78. We would do this for many different scenarios and talk about how if your base number is higher than your percentage will be higher. To which all the students after seeing the facts agreed.

Then came the moment of surprise! I would then ask the students how much they thought a wealthy person made? Differing from year to year, in general the students said the wealthy make about $300,000 per year. Now the discussion would get really heated lasting for a couple of class periods as I would now state, “Now you see that the wealthy pay more in taxes than everyone else.”

“No way Mr. Leurquin!”

“Your Lying Mr. L!”

“They should pay more but they don’t!”

“Mr. L, what are you smoking!”

These were some of the most repeated responses I received to my statement throughout the years.

I would then proceed to write three examples on the board using Bob, Cindy, and Cliff.

If Bob makes $30,000/year and is taxed at 10% he pays $3,000 in taxes.  If Cindy makes $300,000/year and is taxed at 10% she pays $30,000 in taxes. If Cliff makes $3,000,000/per year and is taxed 10% he pays $300,000 in taxes.

Now usually the room was silent as I would bring attention to the fact that the wealthy (based on their definition of wealthy) do pay more in taxes. Every year the response was the same, “I guess they do pay more in taxes.” What gets me the most is that the kids I taught were generally not that good at math so of course they were not aware of this right? Nope! When I show this to adults I usually get the same stunned response.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were only taxed at 10% freeing up more of our money to spend as we see fit? Wouldn’t it be great if the handcuffs were taken off people so they could go out to become “wealthy” so they could pay the same tax percentage as everyone else yet pay so much more? Thus providing more revenue for this country to provide for the programs that are needed. Let’s encourage people to go out and make a lot of money, tax the heck out of them at the same percentage as everyone else. Raising their tax percentage as they make more only discourages the motivated one from pulling the cart and if nobody is pulling the cart, who will?

It’s crazy that when one just thinks on their own how much clearer things start to become. Enjoy the thinking journey, Steve Leurquin

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25 responses

26 11 2012
Kevin Knuteson

Steve, most people would agree that this example would be considered “simple math.” However, if slightly over half of a given populous…lets say the United States just for an example…didn’t get this simple equation, can it still be considered simple?!

26 11 2012
steveleurquin1

Is that a trick question? 🙂

30 10 2012
Ryan Blakely

Thanks for the post Steve! Yeah it actually gives you a different perspective seeing the numbers written out. Like you said its so obvious but so few people see it! “thinking is the hardest thing to do, thats why so few people do it” love that quote. Trust me i was there and still working on it! Thanks Steve, God bless!

30 10 2012
steveleurquin1

The facts don’t lie.

29 10 2012
Teesa Rossman

Gotta love common sense! Thanks Steve.

30 10 2012
steveleurquin1

The only thing about common sense is that it is not so common.

28 10 2012
adamrossman

This makes me laugh. I told my co-workers the other day that I wanted to pay more in taxes, but they didn’t believe me. When I showed them this same equation that you used – they realized why I would make such a backwards standing statement. Its funny how when something becomes “the norm” it becomes difficult for people to realize that there could possibly be a better way of doing things. I like your idea of a fair tax that actually encourages and makes it easier for people to contribute more to society. As we make make more – we are naturally going to pay more in taxes, even if taxed at the same rate.

Thanks for sharing!

29 10 2012
Teesa Rossman

Your co-workers are not going to believe a lot of the things that are starting to happen in your life! You are awesome.

30 10 2012
steveleurquin1

I second that!

24 10 2012
Kevin Hamm

I wonder what the responses would be if you showed the actual tax the higher incomes paid? Wouldn’t we wish that $300,000 would only pay $30,000.

24 10 2012
steveleurquin1

You are right Kevin. Only one major point at a time. This is where people think the “wealthy” should pay more, in higher tax percentages. Yet at the same percentage they are paying more.

22 10 2012
Kelli Sager

STEVE LEURQUIN FOR PRESIDENT !!!!!!!!!!!!!

22 10 2012
steveleurquin1

No thanks!!! Can change more lives helping people help themselves!

22 10 2012
Greg Streuly

If only. We can hope that one day, that no matter how much money we make, we have an informed society that can guide positive change.
Great points, sir! As always.

22 10 2012
steveleurquin1

An informed society! That is the dream and the goal.

22 10 2012
Shawn Brown

Thank you for the words of wisdom again Steve. You have givin me a great topic to toil over. To bad my mind is branching off into a lot of what if’s and how I can start to fix it. Possible the answers are right in front of me, I just need to learn to see them. Thanks again Steve.

22 10 2012
steveleurquin1

Think away Shawn. Never accept anything you learn until you’ve thought about it for yourself! Thanks for your post.

22 10 2012
Steve Sager

Great post Steve!

Did you hear that France is pushing for a 50% tax on anyone making $300,000 and 75% on making $1 million ? This also includes any company…. Scary stuff!! And the prime minister says that it’s only fair for the wealthy to pick up the tab for their struggling economy? Hello socialism !!

22 10 2012
steveleurquin1

I did not hear that but it should make us all wake up.

26 11 2012
Kevin Knuteson

Talk about backward thinking! How are these companies going to pay their employees?! Oh…let me guess, the government will take care of that. I’m sure they have run about the same number of non-bankrupt programs as ours!

26 11 2012
steveleurquin1

Hopefully we will wake enough people up.

22 10 2012
Beth MacGowan

That is really very true and yet very simple. I think that until you actually draw it out with the numbers the correct way, i.e. 3,000,000 verse 3 million it is easier to see that they do pay more for taxes. I also agree that we need to have lower taxes so that people are able (if they are willing to) create more income for themselves so in return they pay more.

22 10 2012
steveleurquin1

If someone can keep more of their money, maybe they will take care of their aging parents rather than tax money from someone else. I know I will!

23 10 2012
steve sager

That is very true Steve!

28 10 2012
adamrossman

great point! The more oppirtunity we have to succeed, the more we can also help others!

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