Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Everything Wrong with Prager U's "The Progressive Income Tax: A Tale of Three Brothers," Part II

Ok, so we've got the triplet Class brothers who are all carpenters with wives and two kids and make $25 per hour. At this point in the video, they start acting like human beings who aren't following a script and begin to make actual choices:

"Tom chose to work 20 hours per week,  Dick worked 40 hours per week, and Harry worked 60 hours per week."  Harry's wife also worked full-time outside the house, contributing $50,000 to the family income.  Dick's wife worked part-time selling Real Estate and brought in $25,000, while Tom's wife didn't bring in any income (the video actually says "Tom's wife did not work," but this is contradicted by the previous information which included that each family has two children.   I think the narrator meant to say "was not paid for the work she did," unless Prager U. teaches it's "students" that being a parent is not work?

"Tom and Dick spent all of their family income, since they paid into Social Security they figured they didn't need to save...." Wait a minute.  Did they spend all their family income because they thought saving was unnecessary due to the future availability of Social Security, or because given their slack attitudes toward labor (Dick only worked 40 hours a week- what was he doing with all that spare time?) the act of living absorbed their incomes?  We aren't told- it's too important to get to "Harry and his wife, however, over many years, had put away money each month and invested it in stocks and bonds."

Again, wait a minute- Harry and his wife make a lot more money than Tom and Dick, so they have excess funds they can invest.  I get it.  But is it automatically virtuous to invest that money in stocks and bonds?  What if Harry and wife had reached 65 in 2008, when the stock market lost half it's value?  How smart would all their investing have been then?  And again, we still haven't been told if Tom and Dick aren't saving because they don't want to, or because they can't.

Man, I was right to break this up.  This IS going to be a long discussion....

"Here's how it worked out.  Tom made $25,000 per year.  Dick and his wife made $75,000.  And Harry and his wife, $150,000. "  We can tell by the numbers that Harry and his wife are the heroes of this little shpeal already, can't we?  But it's about to get more complicated.

"When a new housing development opened up in their community, the brothers decided to buy equally-priced homes on the same private street."

 Ok, we've just gone off the rails, Prager U.  For this to be true, one of two things had to happen.  Either Tom lied on his mortage application and told the bank that he made a lot more money than he actually does, or Harry and his wife decided that despite their big incomes and savings they'd buy an extremely modest home so they could live near Harry's deadbeat brothers and their pathetic, low-achieving wives.  I don't know, maybe it's the second option and Harry and Wife value that Feeling of Superiority over Relatives more than living in a house they've earned through hard work and savings.  This is definitely a logic speed bump, and I don't know how you're going to rescue yourselves from this, Prager U.  But we'll have to pick this up in Part III.

1 comment:

  1. One of the few things Lynn Johnston ever said that made much sense is that most of the fun of being rich is feeling superior to poor people. That's why Harry lives where he does.