Framing the Dialogue


How many of you have attended a high school football game on a fall Friday evening? Have you ever attended a church picnic or a school function?  One of the standard fund-raising activities at these events is the 50/50 raffle.  In case you are not sure what this is, you purchase raffle tickets and the winner gets one half of the total take of the raffle.  I have been to some where the prize is well over one thousand dollars.  The other half of the take is given to the fund-raising group or some charity.  It is all good. 

I went to an event recently and purchased $20 worth of tickets toward the 50/50 raffle.  There were already a lot of tickets in the glass bowl so I thought that the prize should be quite high.  I knew that the more tickets I bought, the better chance I had to win that prize.  I was feeling lucky and almost bought twice as many chances. 

Unfortunately I did not read the rules of the raffle and was dismayed to find out that everyone had an equal chance to win the money.  This even included folks who did not purchase ANY raffle tickets.  You had an equal chance of winning just by being there.  This was a free event so there was not any entrance fee that contributed to the pot.  What should I do?  Should I accept this?  Should I demand my money back?  I felt fleeced!  It did not seem right or fair.

I did not want to make a scene since this was a charitable function and the money went to a good cause.  I took the hit and waited all evening for the raffle.  You can imagine my elation when my ticket was pulled.  The total sales were $2,200 (quick math indicated that I would win $1,050).  YES! 

Once again my failure to completely read the rules bit me in the a#%.   The rules stated that if the winning ticket ended in either an even or odd number, the winning pot was to be divided equally among all the attendees.  I ended up with a crisp $10 bill.  After my initial $20 investment I was only down $10.  I still get steamed when I think about that one. 

What did I learn from my experience?  I learned to listen and look at the specifics so this would not happen to me again. 

Guess what?  It is happening again, but to now it is happening to all of us.  In our government’s bailout-frenzied spending, they are proposing tax cuts to all citizens.  That sounds great, as I would like some of my tax money back.  This time I am looking at the rules (proposals) and they (our elected officials) are proposing to give “cuts” to everyone.  Even folks who do not pay income taxes will get tax “cuts.”

How can something be called a tax cut to someone who does not pay taxes?  I learned long ago in math that 10% of nothing is still nothing.  What would you call giving someone money for doing nothing.  Charity?  No, charity is when you give voluntarily.  This is not voluntary as the government takes our money before we see it.  Gift?  No, we run into that voluntary thing again.

The only word that seems to work is “welfare.”  That seems to be the best way to describe the process where someone takes from you and gives to someone else.  Many argue that this is like Robin Hood who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.  Several problems come to mind about this metaphor.  I am not rich by any standard so that part does not fit.  That does not mean that rich people should suffer because they are rich.  I am not into that class envy thing.  I aspire to be rich some day (so tell lots of people to read my postings and buy from Amazon through my link).

Another failure in the Robin Hood metaphor is the misconception that he robbed the rich to give to the poor.  If you remember the story, Robin Hood stole money from the corrupt government that overtaxed it’s citizens.  I always find it humorous when politicians make the Robin Hood (spreading the wealth) argument when they are actually referencing a character that revolted against high taxation.  Unfortunately many of our fellow citizens buy it. 

I am not doubting that some folks who will receive this “tax cut” need it. 

It is not a tax cut!

Call it what it is!

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