## Wednesday, October 01, 2008

### We, The Public, Ain't So Dumb

My buddy Forbes editor Rich Karlgaard busted on the lumpen masses today. He wrote about that email floating around (we've all gotten it) whose essence is this:

"I'm against the \$85,000,000,000 bailout of AIG. Instead, I'm in favor of giving \$85,000,000,000 to America in a 'We Deserve It Dividend.' To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bona fide U.S. Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/-, counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up. So divide 200 million adults 18+ into \$85 billion. That equals \$425,000. My plan is to give \$425,000 to every person 18+ as a 'We Deserve It Dividend.'"

Rich points out that mathematically, the correct quotient only amounts to \$425 per person. He then goes on to rail about *innumeracy* in our society; how the Chinese are laughing at us; and so on.

But concentrate here. Why were the lumpen masses so eager to believe the bailout would cost 400k per adult?

Well maybe they are aware of the per-pupil costs of their local public schools. (New Jersey's \$15,000 per year exceeds the poverty line for income!)

Maybe they remembered that 'old coots' get \$27,289 in ANNUAL government benefits.

Or maybe the rubes, buffoons, and Joe6Packs recalled that Katrina Relief alone amounted to \$425,000 (or higher) per New Orleans resident.

The taxpaying public KNOWS it's getting screwed by the proposed bank bailout - I'd hesitate to discount their view solely on inarticulation.

Plus, from where I sit, a simple mathematical error is at least on par with the illogic of:

1) Being for a blank check, no-oversight \$700 billion+ bailout for Wall Street.
2) And being for a "strong dollar".

The two are completely irreconcilable. See Rich's other post.

"Criticizing others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves." - Will Durant